In the wake of last week's on-air resignation of Russia Today (RT) anchor Liz Wahl over the Russian government's actions in the Ukraine, Thom Hartmann announced on his RT program today that he is editorially independent and "we value the relationships" with organizations like RT.
"I own my own show," Hartmann said in an apparently prerecorded segment at the beginning of today's episode of "The Big Picture". Referring to "the drama at RT," he said, "it seems important to clarify my status and position." He claimed that he has "total editorial independence" and "nobody at RT has ever in any way tried to influence our content."
Wahl charged RT with exerting strong if indirect control over the content on the cable news channel, which is widely regarded as pro-Putin. “In order to succeed there you don’t question," Wahl said. "In a way you kind of suppress any concerns that you have and play the game.” Wahl also made her feelings clear. “It actually makes me feel sick that I worked there,” she said. “It’s not a sound news organization, not when your agenda is making America look bad,” Wahl said, adding that RT fools "hipster generation" Americans into believing Kremlin propaganda.
Hartmann did not address the crisis in Ukraine on his television program, but during his radio program earlier in the day he discussed the situation with Stephen Cohen, who has written recent pieces in The Nation magazine entitled "Demonizing Putin" and "Distorting Russia." During the interview, Hartmann and Cohen accepted as fact the conspiracy theory thatsnipers on the side of the new anti-Russia government fired on their own side in the main square in Kiev so that the now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovych would be blamed.
Hartmann and Cohen also referred the new anti-Russian Ukrainian government as "extremists." "The extremists came to power sharing, they are sharing power now," Cohen said, to Hartmann's agreement. "Obama unwisely keeps declaring the government in Kiev as legitimate," Cohen added.
The Ukrainian governing coalition involves power-sharing between several parties, one of which, Svoboda, is ultranationalist with fascist roots.
Hartmann suggested that the new anti-Russia government in Ukraine were neo-Nazis. "If you listen to the words of these guys in the cabinet, if you listen to the words of the party, they are openly antisemitic, they are openly nationalistic, they are open aggressive," Hartmann said. "Some may think calling them Nazis is a slur, some of them wouldn't refer to themselves that way, but some of them embrace swastikas."
Hartmann has in the past defended Russia on issues like gay rights, saying that Russia is not as bad as Saudi Arabia in terms of gay rights while pointing out that the United States did to give women the right to vote until 1920.