Saturday, August 27, 2016


U.S. Journalist Kicked Off Russian TV For Discussing Antigay Laws

James Kirchick
James Kirchick
By Heather Maher
The Kremlin-funded network RT abruptly pulled an American journalist off the air for talking about the Russian government's antigay laws instead of the topic at hand.

The drama unfolded as James Kirchick, a gay journalist who has written for "The New Republic" and "The Washington Post," among other publications (including RFE/RL), was being interviewed from Stockholm by the Moscow-based television station for a panel discussion about U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning.

When the host turned to Kirchick for his thoughts, he pulled on a pair of rainbow-colored suspenders and quoted the American playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein as saying, "Being silent in the face of evil is something we can't do."

"You know, being here on a Kremlin-funded propaganda network, I'm going to wear my gay-pride suspenders and I'm going to speak out against the horrific antigay legislation that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has signed into law, that was passed unanimously by the Russian Duma, that criminalizes homosexual propaganda, that effectively makes it illegal for people to talk about homosexuality in public," Kirchick says.

The puzzled RT host responds, "Yes..?" and Kirchick continues, saying, "We've seen a spate of violent attacks on gay people..." before the host jumps in again to suggest they get back to the discussion about Manning.

"I'm not really interested in talking about Bradley Manning. I'm interested in talking about the horrific environment of homophobia in Russia right now," Kirchick says. "And to let the Russian gay people know that they have friends and allies and solidarity from people all over the world, and that we're not going to be silent in the face of this horrific repression that is perpetrated by your paymasters, by Vladimir Putin. That's what I'm here to talk about."

WATCH: James Kirchick appears on RT

A Russian law aimed at blocking "homosexual propaganda" that went into effect last month "bars the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it."

For more than two minutes, Kirchick dominated the live broadcast, at one point telling the sputtering anchorwoman, "You have 24 hours a day to lie about America, I am going to tell the truth with my two minutes."

He also got in a swipe at the hostile media environment in Russia, saying he doesn't know how employees of RT can sleep at night, "knowing how journalists in Russia are routinely harassed, tortured, and in some cases, killed by the Russian government."

Reached afterward by RFE/RL at the Stockholm airport where he was about to board a plane to Tallinn, Kirchick said he normally didn't agree to appear on networks like RT, which he called "propaganda channels of dictatorial governments."

"But I thought, because of what's going on in Russia right now, that this would be a really good way to draw attention to this cause," he explained.

No More Taxi Ride

Kirchick said that after RT producers in Moscow abruptly cut off his audio feed, he headed to the airport in a prearranged taxi that the station agreed to pay for as part of his appearance agreement.

"So about halfway down the highway on the way to the airport, my driver gets a phone call from his boss saying that the car ride has been canceled and that he'll have to drop me off on the side of the road," Kirchick said.

"And I told him that I would pick up the tab. But at the end, actually, at the airport, he said that the ride was free, so maybe we have some anti-Putin activists in the Swedish taxi company."

He said RT didn't explain their actions but did call him to tell him his ride was being canceled. Kirchick said he used "adult language and told them where to put it."

RT bureaus in Moscow and Washington did not respond to RFE/RL's e-mailed requests for comment but sent this statement a day after our story came out:

"Mr. Kirchick 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. Kirchick 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."

Kirchick said he planned to keep speaking out against Russia's antigay law, and added that he would "encourage anyone who goes on RT to hijack the forum" and do the same.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Mamuka
August 21, 2013 21:17
So much for "Question More."

(Since practically nobody actually watches RT, I should point out that this is their motto on their ads)

I watch RT sometimes and it seems that most of their stories describe the evil and decadent West rather than Russia. Maybe they should call it Krokodil TV.
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 22, 2013 10:24
look lke the same work that is doing RFE against Russia
In Response

by: Mamuka
August 22, 2013 16:40
Well if RFE/RL is attacking Russia, at least that would be in their area of interest. Why should I watch a channel called "Russia Today" to see attack on the US?

By the way, when RT does do stories about Russia, they are pretty good. I wish they would do more!!!
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 22, 2013 21:35
difficult to understand what you want tell
In Response

by: Question more
August 22, 2013 13:59
RT did not do their home work on Kirchick, talk about bad "journalism" they were just interested in having another person on there sit and slam America and it back fired on them.

Bad research is to blame here and it is funny how RT really thought they could get away with this. They did this to them selves but we are going to see the "Putin Spin" on what happened, and the hiding behind children excuse. To the taxi driver that helped James out good for you hope you make a lot of tips today .

Time for RT to change their slogan that also put them in the spot they are in. You talk the talk you walk the walk, RT apparently you are just baby stepping. And messing in your diapers.
In Response

by: Mike
August 22, 2013 22:39
Things there don't seem to have gotten better since Larry King joined them.

They're closer to Western mass media than some think.

They were way too tame with Kirchick.

by: Penny Duff from: St. Petersburg, FL
August 21, 2013 23:32
This is all the more reason that reasonable and civil-rights minded countries should boycott the Olympics in Russia. To attend is to give approbation to their severely discriminatory laws, and to put some of our athletes and US travelers at serious risk.

In Response

by: Mike
August 22, 2013 14:31
Not happening on account of the lies and hypocrisy exhibited by Kirchick and some others.
In Response

by: Averko buster
August 24, 2013 12:19
Where was the lie, mikey? Everything Kirchick said was true. You just have to defend Putin's Kremlin at all costs, don't you, with your garbled sentences. The Kremlin's attempt at legalizing gay-bashing is just part of the inevitable turn to ugly populism and knee-jerk flag waving antidemocratic regimes always fall into.
In Response

by: shmuck buster
August 24, 2013 13:14

He lied about RT not covering gay issues, only to then back pedal in a still inaccurate way. His characterization of RT's staff on MSNBC is false as well.

In a calculated way, he deceitfully hijacked a segment on an other topic from what he sought.

The Russian law in question doesn't condone violence or discrimination against gays. Rather, it's a socially conservative position on how minors should be raised.

In time, it'll probably be changed.

by: no censura please
August 22, 2013 21:43
here is it the matter !

this is exactly what makes a gay .... different

A gay is not a ....
or an artist
or a fashion designer
or a lawyer
or what you want


a gay is always and only
a gay journalist
or a gay artist
or a gay fashion designer
or a gay lawyer
or wat you want

every where and every time first of all a gay .

But to be a gay is not a problem for everybody
is only his problem

by: no censura please
August 22, 2013 21:46
"Kicked Off" ... " "abruptly pulled" ?!?!?!
But if he speak for half an hour !

by: santasa from: Laibach
August 24, 2013 01:30
You kidding me !

He went on CNN to unmask "propaganda", and talk about morality of western vs. eastern journalism !?!

He tells us how should we consider journalist who decide to work for RT, and all that from CNN, really !? Now you people from RFE !?

How about this incident for humongous cynicism and irony !

Bravo James Kirchick - aka "I Look Like Giant Lower Jaw With An Ass" or short "Lower Jo" - he really brought us to light, slimy peace of s., why shouldn't he bravely sabotaged CNN too, for example with a story about Israeli apartheid lunatic state, and maniacal war mongering government, lead by another Russian, but this one Zionist racist maniac, Avigdor Lieberman, and then ask them and himself why did they (CNN) and rest of the US media completely blacked-out genocide against Palestinians, perpetrated by lunatic state of Israel for almost century ?!?

The moment he "stepped" into CNN program with intention to talk about evil propaganda against the "west", he became disgusting troll, and I hope I won't stumble upon his ugly face, & even uglier mindset, ever again !
In Response

by: Mike
August 24, 2013 11:25
RT gave a pretty good answer back to his deceit:

He comes across as creepy hack - the exact opposite of a hero.
In Response

by: Danny
August 25, 2013 07:48
Great point. Kirchick is/was also a writer for FRE/FL...go figure. Also this
In Response

by: Danny
August 27, 2013 07:49
Apparently I misread your comment before posting, santasa. Zionists? No, no, no...

Still, Kirchick is a fool.

by: KxWaal from: Canada
August 24, 2013 13:48
That's weird... I used to watch RT America all the time - the Alyona show and Thom Hartmann in particular (Alyona's on Huff Post TV now) - Both shows were EXTREMELY progressive for American media (I'm an Anarcho-Commie, so it was still to the right of me - But certainly to the left of say MSNBC or CNN) - They were certainly in favour of gay marriage/gay rights in general.... Is RT America different from the original RT? I'm pretty shocked to see this...

by: KrazyRuskie from: Moscow
August 25, 2013 00:01
Kicked off, you say? They gave him FULL TWO MINUTES for his self-advertising "brave" rant that was totally OFFTOPIC.

Regarding braveness, I may have missed the NKVD firing squad behind him. Did you?

In Response

by: Mike
August 25, 2013 15:27
He did that while in Sweden. There's nothing particularly brave about what he did. The mass media people giving him props is a tell all sign of the sorry state evident in journalism.

by: Spinozza from: France
August 30, 2013 18:51
Very good job James Kirchick! Honest man, honest journalist!

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