March 20, 2014

​The recent on-air resignation by former RT news anchor Liz Wahl was just the latest stunt orchestrated by a neo-conservative think tank, according to a new investigative report shedding light on the group’s role in an ongoing Cold War revival campaign.

An extensive account of the days and minutes leading up to Wahl’s remarks and public denunciation of “propaganda” tactics during her news segment on March 5 by authors Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek via truthdig has revealed connections with the little known neoconservative think-tank Foreign Policy Initiative.

FPI was founded in 2009 by a group of high-profile neo-conservative figures, including Robert Kagan and William Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard, who themselves were cofounders of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) — an organization that played a key role in advocating for the US invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration following the 9/11 terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda.

According to the authors, as well as evidence readily available online via the group’s Twitter feed, FPI was privy to what would take place at RT on-air that day.

Close to twenty minutes prior to Wahl’s last appearance on RT, FPI announced that “something big”would be “going down” on RT, and directed followers to RT’s live web feed.

FPI then began a tweet-storm linking to RT’s live web feed and promising their followers a it would be worth their while to stay tuned:

Just over an hour later, an exclusive interview with Wahl was posted to The Daily Beast, authored by James Kirchick, a 31-year-old writer who had appeared regularly on the pages of conservative publications such as Commentary and the Weekly Standard.

As the truthdig report points out, Kirchick, a senior fellow with FPI, considered by most beltway insiders as a rebrand of PNAC, had been in contact with Wahl since last August.

Kirchick had himself appeared on RT around the same time after accepting an invitation to participate in a panel and discuss his recent op-ed calling for Bradley Manning’s execution.

The panel was derailed when Kirchick took the opportunity to denounce recent “gay propaganda” laws ratified by Russia’s government. As Khalek and Blumenthal write, moments after the uncomfortable appearance Kirchick had removed his microphone and remarked “I only go on that station to f*** with the Russians.”

Several days after Wahl’s resignation, after she appeared on a number of networks, Kirchick camped out outside of RT’s DC studios, apparently on a self-assigned mission to “find out more about RT.”

Kirchick, after befuddling random office workers with questions on Pussy Riot, was approached by building security, who eventually contacted local police. Though the resulting piece posted by Kirchick for the Daily Beast had denounced “the wannabe thugs” at RT’s DC headquarters who had contacted police, the piece was later quietly updated to clarify that it had been building security who had contacted authorities, not RT staff members.

Beyond the extensive analysis of FPI and James Kirchick’s political purpose, the investigation also delved into Wahl’s tenure at RT. Six employees were contacted by the authors, all of whom professed“qualms with the network’s coverage of Russia-related issues,” though they also portrayed Wahl, who had previously been demoted from anchor to correspondent and suspended without pay, as “apolitical and without any clear principles.”

“Wahl expressed her outrage at co-workers, often berating them, according to her former colleagues, and by ‘screaming’ at management,” write Blumenthal and Khalek.

Other interviewed employees professed knowledge of Wahl’s association with Kirchick.

[Kirchick’s] obviously been trying to charm her into doing this for a while,” said one, adding that Wahl had confided that she had been approached by an unnamed individual to “take down RT.”

Certainly Wahl’s and Kirchick’s behavior the day of her resignation alluded to a close relationship, evidenced by a photo posted by Kirchick to his Twitter feed the day following her resignation entitled ‘#freedomselfie’.

Ultimately, Wahl’s public outcry seemed to echo “the cold warrior themes familiar to neoconservatives like Kirchick” and the FPI, write Blumenthal and Khalek.

The seemingly coordinated stunt appears to have met with some success, winning praise from MSNBC’s prime-time pundit Chris Hayes, who described Wahl as “remarkably badass,” along with conservative writers such as Amanda Carpenter, who noted that the former anchor was “proud to be an American.”

The Emergency Election Sale is now live! Get 30% to 60% off our most popular products today!

Related Articles