Anchors on Russia Today, the international news network funded by the Russian government, found themselves in an uncomfortable situation when reporter James Kirchick challenged them and their network over the country’s anti-gay laws. Kirchick, who is gay, was on the panel to discuss the sentencing of WikiLeaks conspirator Bradley Manning.
“Being here on a Kremlin-funded propaganda network, I’m going to wear my gay-pride suspenders and speak out against the horrific, anti-gay legislation that Vladimir Putin has signed into law,” Kirchick said as he pulled up rainbow-colored braces. He told the network’s reporters they should be “ashamed” of themselves for not covering the “horrific abuse” against the LGBT community in Russia.
The two clearly uncomfortable anchors tried to redirect the conversation back to Manning, but Kirchick, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Initiative and a former reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, refused to budge. “You have 24 hours a day to lie about the United States and to ignore what’s happening in Russia. . . . I’m going to take my two minutes and tell people the truth,” Kirchick asserted.
Before his appearance, Kirchick subtly forecasted his plans to discuss gay rights when he tweeted, “Need a rainbow flag in Stockholm, fast. Can anyone help?” After his appearance, he tweeted that RT had told the taxi that was supposed to drive him from the studio to the Stockholm airport to “drop me off on the side of the highway.”