A Farewell to RT’s ‘The Alyona Show’
The final edition of RT’s “The Alyona Show” hosted by Alyona Minkovski aired today. Alyona is going to Los Angeles to join HuffPost Live, a video network set to launch August 13. As the show picks up and heads cross-country, I would like to take a moment to share a few memories about a program that I will never forget.
PBS had just aired FRONTLINE‘s “WikiSecrets” documentary. I published a scathing review of the production. At the time, I was an intern for The Nation magazine. I received a request that day, the first request in my life, to appear on television. I asked my supervisor if I could leave the office early because I had gotten an interview request. It was one of the most validating moments. (Watch the interview here.)
Over the next year, I would appear just about every other month on the program. I wrote about one of the appearances in the book I co-authored with The Nation‘s Greg Mitchell, Truth & Consequences: The US vs. Bradley Manning. In December 2011, I was covering Pfc. Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing, before the charges against him had been referred to a court martial. I drove Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower known for publishing the Pentagon Papers, from Fort Meade, Maryland, to Washington, DC, for a segment where we both appeared together.
I needed to give Ellsberg a ride into DC and, knowing how awkward it would be to take Ellsberg to my appearance and not have him go on camera, I asked a producer if Alyona would like to have Ellsberg and I on at the same time. And, during the segment, there was a great moment when Ellsberg stopped the conversation to interject that he thought I looked like Manning. (I don’t know if I would agree, though it did give me a good laugh.)
The show gave me a platform and experience doing television when I had none, and I am sure that my first appearance was not unique. A number of people wrote blog posts while the show was on air and were contacted by producers and given a chance to share their perspectives on TV. That is because, unlike many other news programs, the show did not really rely on a cadre of people that it always turned to for commentary on stories. It invited people who were actually doing the reporting or writing and had done coverage—the work—to come on the show and share their viewpoint.
Aside from the attention given to stories that corporate or establishment media would never touch, “The Alyona Show” was remarkable because, on every other show, one was likely to see someone they had never seen on TV before. It gave the show a grassroots spirit and made the show authentic. It complemented Alyona’s ability to expertly interview a person and get to the root of an issue being discussed on the show.
While there will certainly be regulars on the program when it resumes on HuffPost Live, I hope that “The Alyona Show” continues to invite people who write posts that happen to cover a story in a better way than any individual you may have seen on the show before.
Both FDL editor-in-chief Jane Hamsher and Salon’s Glenn Greenwald appeared on the final edition of the show. Here’s their appearance: