Anchor Liz Wahl of Russia Today’s Washington, D.C. bureau abruptly resigned her position during a live broadcast this week because she said she “cannot be part of a network, funded by the Russian government, that whitewashes the actions of Putin.” However, ABC’s Barbara Walters was unimpressed by this young anchor’s brave stand.
On Thursday’s episode of The View, Walters responded to Wahl’s resignation with the haughtiness of a veteran journalist. She huffed, “I think what she did is fine, it's a personal choice, but don't make her a hero for protesting. She is working for the government.”
Her co-hosts were a bit more sympathetic to Wahl, so Walters lectured them:
She is working for a Russian network. Therefore, she is protesting the Russians. It is not like if I were angry at ABC and I came out and said terrible things about ABC, I don’t think I’d be here tomorrow. Maybe I would. She is protesting. She's working for them.
Does Walters not believe people should follow their consciences? Young journalists are often taught to be watchdogs, people who diligently seek the truth and hold those in power accountable. It may have taken Ms. Wahl a while to realize she worked for a propaganda network, but she finally followed her conscience and stood up to her bosses. You would think Walters, as a longtime journalist, might appreciate that.
If, as Ms. Walters saw it, ABC News were egregiously violating journalistic ethics by pumping out propaganda, would Walters not feel a moral obligation to speak out against the corruption? She seems to be suggesting the answer is no. She thinks loyalty to one’s employer is more important than doing the right thing. But when your employer is the corrupt Russian government, should loyalty really be paramount, particularly when the actions of said government could result in needless, avoidable hostilities and with them the inevitable civilian casualties?
Walters has an unfortunate history of telling people to keep quiet. Back in 2012, she told former Kennedy mistress Mimi Alford that she should not have written a tell-all memoir about her affair – even though Walters wrote about her own affair with Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.) in a memoir published four years earlier.
Below is a transcript of the segment:
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: She's the anchor of the Russia Today network's Washington bureau. She cited her family history of fleeing Soviet forces in Hungary, and that’s what she – that’s the entire –
BARBARA WALTERS: But she is working, as she said, she is working for the Russian network.
RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: Barbara, we agree on something!
WALTERS: Why would you make it a battle between you and me?
CAMPOS-DUFFY: No, it's not. I’m just saying you're right, you're right.
GOLDBERG: Here we go, here we go, here we go -- go ahead, baby.
WALTERS: She is working for – [laughs]
GOLDBERG: Don't stop.
WALTERS: No, I'm laughing at you. She is working for a Russian network. Therefore, she is protesting the Russians. It is not like if I were angry at ABC and I came out and said terrible things about ABC, I don’t think I’d be here tomorrow. Maybe I would. She is protesting. She's working for them.
GOLDBERG: Here's my question, she's been there for two years. Putin has been, he’s been -- and so I understand that she felt this need, but I just kind of think if you’re –
JENNY MCCARTHY: Do you think it was outside pressure, Whoopi?
GOLDBERG: No. I just think she thought about her parents and something snapped.
SHERRI SHEPPARD: But that’s what I’m saying – even though she was working for, it was Russian, but she's saying it’s still every day I’ve got to do this, I'm not feeling good inside. It's violating what I'm feeling, so it's okay.
WALTERS: What I'm saying, I think what she did is fine, it's a personal choice, but don't make her a hero for protesting. She is working for the government.
MCCARTHY: Do you think it will hurt her getting another job somewhere or help her?
WALTERS: It depends on what kind of a job she wants
SHEPPARD: She can go do a commencement speech. She'll be all right.
CAMPOS-DUFFY: She's got pretty good publicity.
WALTERS: If you have a job where you give your opinions, then, you know, then you're open to their disagreeing with you. If you have a job the way many people do where you are reading the news off the teleprompter, that's a different thing.
SHEPPARD: Have you ever felt as a journalist when you were doing interviews -- you've done interviews with people you did not agree with what they were saying. Did it make you –
WALTERS: Like Yasser Arafat.
SHEPPARD: Like Yasser Arafat.
WALTERS: Like President Assad.
SHEPPARD: Like President Assad. Did you ever feel like, I can't, this is making me sick inside?
WALTERS: No, because what I do feel is I'm a reporter and it is my job to point out why you may make everybody sick. It's not my job –
[cheers and applause]
GOLDBERG: Got to love that. We will be right back with more hot topics. Well said, Barbara, well said.