Kremlin-backed Russia Today is covering the shoot down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane in the only way it knows how: Blaming everyone except for the Russian government.
Leading its website just one day after the plane was downed in pro-Russian rebel-held territory with 298 people onboard, RT’s main headline is to a video of the U.N. Security Council discussion on the topic, along with other headlines that insinuate it was Malaysia Airlines fault for flying over the area.
“Questions over why Malaysia plane flew over Ukrainian warzone,” one headline reads. Another, under their military vertical “Op-Edge,” asks “Why was MH17 flying through a war zone where 10 aircraft have been shot down?”
Noticeably absent is any mention of Russian support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine believed responsible, who were caught on an audio recording talking about the plane, after they apparently realised they had shot it down.
In one leaked call, one militant asks, “What was it doing in Ukraine’s territory?” Another, identified as Nikolay Kozitsin, responds, “That means they were carrying spies. F— them, got it? … They shouldn’t be f—ing flying. There is a war going on.”
On the route, according to a Malaysia Airlines spokesman speaking to the Telegraph: “This route is an approved route. 15 out of 16 airlines use this route. It’s a safe route – most other countries use this route. So we were not given any notice to change this.”
RT’s coverage shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course. Soon after the crash, Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to blame the government of Ukraine for the disaster.
An interview on the site published today parroted this line under the headline, “Malaysia aeroplane tragedy is a wakeup call to the Ukrainian govt to stop what it is doing.”
In response to what she called a “total disregard for the facts,” RT Correspondent Sarah Firth resigned from the channel on Thursday, according to BuzzFeed. “When this story broke I ran back into the newsroom and saw how we were covering it already and I just knew I had to go,” she said.
The channel also had a very similar record in the coverage of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
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