The Russian television channel RT has issued an official response to comments made by Editor Edward Lucas of The Economist, who slandered the organization and urged people to "ostracize" its journalists.
Speaking before foreign ministers and senior officials at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Lucas noted that Russian foreign language media is a grave threat to the West. He stated that in a free press and media market, truth cannot "triumph when you’re faced with RT, the former Russia Today, or with Sputnik – the so-called media organizations which are directly plugged into the Kremlin lie machine." In Lucas' view, Western countries "could do a bit more of ostracism" toward media services like RT and Sputnik. "I'm quite happy to say that if anyone puts a CV on my desk, and on that CV I see they worked at RT or Sputnik or one of these things, that CV is going into the bin and not into the intro." As far as Mr. Lucas is concerned, a job at RT is "the last stage on a career latter."
RT's response, published Sunday, notes the organization's indignation over the comments, stating that "it is the height of hypocrisy to come to an event, dedicated to the collective resolution of the multitude of tough security questions the world faces today, [and] to use it as a platform for specious attacks."
The editorial notes that RT's "correspondents risk their lives every day to report on stories and events nobody else dares touch, to show people around the world the side of reality that most other news media either inadvertently or deliberately conceal." In fact, the editorial explains, "while Mr. Lucas was shaming RT journalists from the comfort and security of this conference, our crew was under fire near Donetsk."
The editorial was referring to an RT news crew which had come under sniper fire at a block post outside Uglegorsk in the Donetsk region.
The RT editorial concludes that to attack these journalists "in such a despicable manner is a disgrace to Mr. Lucas, to the journalistic organizations he represents and to the Munich Security Conference."
The Economist editor's commentary about the possible use of regulatory institutions such as OfCom to restrict channels like RT also leads to questions about free speech, as Sputnik's own commentary on the issue noted.
Last week, US Embassy in Russia Spokesman Will Stevens offered his own criticism of RT, asking his followers to comment on who they trusted more, RT or The Economist. Expecting a wave of support for the latter, by Sunday evening RT had been favorited 617 times, with 43 votes in favor of The Economist, something RT had dubbed an "epic fail".