“What would you do if we asked you to write something that wasn’t true?”

I was sitting in a 10th-floor conference room in the K Street offices of “RIA Global,” otherwise known as the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Russian-owned Sputnik News Service, where I’d come for a job interview. It was in mid-December, just over a month after Donald Trump’s upset election victory, and I’d applied to the company looking to escape from what I like to call “freelance hell,” a period in my life during which I never knew where my next paycheck would come from or whether it would be enough to keep me going.

The question took me by surprise. Sure, I knew Sputnik was state-owned and had a reputation for sometimes playing fast and loose with facts, but was my interviewer probing my willingness to lie or did he want to know whether I possessed the honest-to-goodness ethics that are prized at most news agencies?