Kremlin’s RT network boots journalist for on-air protest of anti-gay laws

By David Edwards
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 14:12 EDT
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James Kirchick speaks to RT
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A gay journalist was kicked off the Kremlin-backed RT network on Wednesday after he hijacked a segment about Bradley Manning to talk about Russia’s laws banning the promotion of homosexuality.

The Washington Free Beacon first posted the clip that begins with columnist James Kirchick quoting openly gay playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein.

“He said that being silent in the face of evil is something we can’t do,” Kirchick said as he pulled rainbow suspenders over his shoulders. “Being here on a Kremlin-funded propaganda network, I’m gonna wear my gay pride suspenders, and I’m gonna speak out against the horrific anti-gay legislation that Vladimir Putin has signed into law, that was passed by the Russian Duma, that criminalizes homosexual propaganda [and] that effectively makes it illegal to talk about homosexuality in public.”

When the RT host tried to steer the conversation back to Bradley Manning’s 35-year sentence, Kirchick said he was more interested in the “horrific environment of homophobia in Russia right now.”

“And I don’t know how you can go to sleep at night, seeing what happens to journalists in Russia who are routinely harassed, tortured and sometimes killed,” he told the host.

“James, you have to come over here and see for yourself,” the host replied.

“Everyone who works for this network should be ashamed of yourself,” Kirchick insisted.

According to the Free Beacon, Kirchick was removed from the discussion soon after his comments.

But the journalist immediately took to Twitter to talk about his experience.

Kirchick later added: “Don’t worry, Swedish taxi company — whose name I will find– brought me to airport gratis.”

RT denied trying to inconvenience Kirchick by canceling his taxi service mid-trip.

“Mr. Kirkick was invited to appear on RT’s panel as author of article ‘Bradley Manning gets off easy,’ in order to contribute to RT’s discussion of the Bradley Manning verdict – obviously the major international news event. Mr. Kirkick decided to instead use this time to express his opinion on LGBT rights, a matter which, while important, was entirely unrelated to the subject of the panel. Regretfully, RT had no other recourse but to continue the discussion without him,” a spokesperson for the network told Raw Story.

“Regarding Mr. Kirchick’s transportation: In no way did RT try to inconvenience Mr. Kirchick or ‘drop [him] off on the side of the road.’ Logistics management by RT is often part of the agreement when required for a person’s appearance in an RT broadcast. After Mr. Kirchick tried to sabotage RT’s broadcast, it’s rather surprising that he expected us to pay for his taxi ride.”

Watch this video from RT, broadcast Aug. 21, 2013.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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