The New York Times and Russian ‘dizinformaziya’

The US daily assault on the Russian media more to deal with the US presidential campaign
The New York Times and Russian ‘dizinformaziya’
29 August 13:57 2016 Print This Article

The so called ‘dezinformatziya’, or Russian disinformation, has become a widely used term in American journalism. On Sunday the New York Times published an assault on Russian media, citing particularly Russia Today and Sputnik, entitled A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories by Neil MacFarquhar (Moscow bureau chief of The New York Times). The article argues that Mr Putin uses in a hidden way both conventional media and ‘weaponized information’ to plant false stories.

According to the 2,000 word article, this ‘disinformation’ strategy is part of the Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed against target countries with great sophistication. In particular, Mr MacFarquhar argues that the Kremlin has heavily invested in a programme of ‘weaponized’ information to “sow doubt and division” weakening cohesion among the EU MSs, stir discord in their domestic politics and “blunt opposition to Russia”. To support this argument the author cites the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Maria Zakharova, editor in chief of RT Margarita Simonyan. There is also a declaration of Gleb Pavlovsky, who was an adviser to the Presidential Administration of Russia until April, 2011, and the man who “helped in establishing the Kremlin’s information machine before 2008”. That’s pretty much it.

The article introduces this discourse starting from a vigorous national debate in Sweden over the entry to the NATO that was accompanied with a flood of “distorted and outright false information on social media” that confused public perceptions of the issue.

“As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports. But they, numerous analysts and experts in American and European intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Vladimir V. Putin, who invaded Georgia in 2008 largely to forestall that possibility,” Mr MacFarquhar writes explains in his article.

The article also points at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the Ukrainian issue, the refugee crisis as to back the argument that Moscow spreads false stories to influence the EU media. However, the primary argument is mainly based on the Mr Pavlovsky as saying “I am sure that there are a lot of centers, some linked to the state, that are involved in inventing these kinds of fake stories”.

Apparently the assault has more to do with the American election campaign that is challenging the White House to decide between the two candidates  – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Infact, Mr MacFarquhar writes “RT often seems obsessed with the United States […]. Its coverage of the Democratic National Convention, for example, skipped the speeches and focused instead on scattered demonstrations.” He believes that Russia Today “defends the Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, as an underdog maligned by the established news media”.

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Andrea Piersanti
Andrea Piersanti

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