... virtually shuttering the main independent television station, removing a news editor deemed insufficiently loyal, shutting opposition websites and continuing to brand nongovernmental organizations receiving money from abroad as "foreign agents."
One or two outspoken critics, including Andrei Zubov, a history professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, were fired after speaking out against Russia's Ukraine policy.
How we remember Phil Donahue being fired from MSNBC in the 2003 lead up to the invasion of Iraq because he questioned the wisdom of Bush's neocon agenda. Phil's show was the top rated show on MSNBC at the time. He also turned out to be absolutely right.
In July 2002, Phil Donahue returned to television after seven years of retirement to host a show called Donahue on MSNBC. On February 25, 2003, MSNBC canceled the show, citing his opposition to the imminent invasion of Iraq by the United States military. Donahue was the highest rated show on MSNBC at the time it was canceled, managing to beat Chris Matthews' MSNBC show Hardball in the ratings. But Matthews was a big proponent of the Iraq invasion and he cultivated a good relationship with MSNBC's management before Donahue came to the network. He played a crucial role in procuring the firing of Donahue and "saw himself as MSNBC's biggest star, and he was upset that the network was pumping significant resources into Donahue's show." In the fall of 2002, U.S. News & World Report ran a gossip item that had Matthews saying over lunch in Washington that if Donahue stays on the air, he could bring down the network.
Soon after the show's cancellation, an internal MSNBC memo was leaked to the press stating that Donahue should be fired because he opposed the imminent U.S. invasion of Iraq and that he would be a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war." Donahue commented in 2007 that the management of MSNBC, owned by General Electric and Microsoft, required that "we have two conservative (guests) for every liberal. I was counted as two liberals."
Donahue continued to oppose the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq after MSNBC fired him. He participated in public marches and rallies against the occupation and even debated Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, who strongly supported the war. During his 2005 appearance on O'Reilly's show, he told O'Reilly, "In the last year, two things have doubled. The number of dead American troops in Iraq has doubled from over a thousand to almost two thousand. You know what also doubled, Billy? The price of Halliburton stock—from thirty-three to sixty-six dollars. That doesn't shame you? That doesn't make you wonder whether this is an enterprise that is worth the support of the American people?" (Halliburton Company, through its subsidiary KBR, received billions of dollars in government contracts to help manage the military's occupation of Iraq.) Donahue continued, "There is no democracy without dissent."