Kremlin-backed news network Russia Today has already been cited for distributing propaganda as the situation in Ukraine continues to escalate, but it would like viewers to know, "Contrary to the popular opinion, RT doesn't beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air." The assurance comes after Breaking the Set host Abby Martin, an American (and defender of 9/11 truthers), spoke out last night on-air against the Russian presence in Crimea.
"I wanted to say something from my heart," she said. "Just because I work here, for RT, doesn't mean I don't have editorial independence and I can't stress enough how strongly I am against any military intervention in sovereign nations' affairs."
"What Russia did is wrong," Martin continued. "I admittedly don't know as much as I should about Ukraine's history or the cultural dynamics of the region. But what I do know is that military intervention is never the answer. And I will not sit here and apologize or defend military aggression." She called the coverage of the situation "truly disappointing, from all sides of the media spectrum and rife with misinformation."
In a statement this morning to the Huffington Post, RT insisted "there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin."
Instead, she'll be sent to learn. "In her comment Ms. Martin also noted that she does not possess a deep knowledge of reality of the situation in Crimea. As such we'll be sending her to Crimea to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicentre of the story."
It's hard not to read those words as subtly threatening, but that's exactly the reputation the network is hoping to soften here. If she comes back with a changed mind, however, there will be suspicions.
Update: Uh oh. Martin tells the Telegraph, "I am not going to Crimea despite the statement RT has made."