The jury is still out on who is responsible for the shooting down of Malayasia Airlines flight MH17, which led to the death of 298 people. But already, the coverage of the incident in Russian media has evoked sharp reactions across the globe. Now a senior journalist working with Russia TV has quit her job citing displeasure at the coverage of the issue in her organisation.
Russia TV's London based correspondent Sara Firth has resigned protesting against the largely lopsided coverage by the state funded media organisation. RT has squarely blamed Ukraine for shooting down the plane, although the overwhelming view is that a Russian made missile was involved in it. Just after the crash, it showed eyewitnesses accusing Ukraine for this heinous incident and the channel raked up past incidents to establish their theory.
Firth who worked for RT for five years minced no words while describing the editorial slant of the organisation. In interviews to other media outlets, she said that the channel is lying to viewers on a daily basis and finding new avenues of spreading its propaganda.
Firth alleged on Twitter that RT's policy was blaming Ukraine for anything by default. According to her, the state backed media has tried to frame stories not only in this case but earlier too, often with scant respect for journalistic ethics. Firth accused that she was pulled out of Syria for exposing the Assad regime, which is supported by the Russian establishment.
Firth claimed that Russia TV indulges in misinformation, which she couldn't endure any more. She also 'exposed' the modus operandi the channel employs while covering big stories. According to her, the channel employs inexperienced hacks who are obedient and ready to toe the line of the top management.
It is not the first time that a high profile journalist has quit RT accusing it of biased presentation of news. US-based anchor Liz Wahl resigned on air in March this year declaring that she could not be associated with a network funded by the Putin government which presents a sanitised version of the truth.
Russia TV though have completely rejected the accusations of Sara Firth. In a statement they said that Firth's version is entirely different to the truth.
Countering Firth's accusation that they have covered the incidence with premeditated intent, the channel stressed that they actually have been open in their presentation without coming to a conclusion even before the start of inquiry. RT may be defiant in this matter, but it is a further blow to its credibility, considered to be the holy grail of any media organisation.
In the plane crash, a former BBC journalist was also killed. Ironically, the BBC is the one RT may consider adopting if it wishes to have a larger footprint to cultivate the soft power of Russia.