- Research Programs
- Regions & Topics
- All Publications
A nation must think before it acts.
Post by Rachel Chernaskey
April 20, 2020
The field for the U.S. 2020 presidential election has narrowed significantly since FIE’s last update on March 2, 2020 about Russian state media mentions. Senator Bernie Sanders’s recent concession leaves just two candidates in the race: President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Both Trump and Biden have received extensive coverage from RT and Sputnik News, though Russia’s coverage of each is rather different.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been the subject of some of the Kremlin’s most outwardly biased stories and is consistently portrayed negatively. President Trump’s coverage is more varied, both negative and positive at times, depending on the issue at hand. As a presidential candidate, Trump is often depicted as unfairly victimized by the American media and the political elite.
The most significant change since our last update, no surprise, is not how the Kremlin messages about Trump or Biden, but how the COVID-19 pandemic will converge with election 2020 in Russian propaganda. Calls for precautionary election modifications like mail-in voting have only fueled Russian suggestions of a rigged U.S. election and dubious results. With COVID-19, the greatest Kremlin threat to election 2020 may not be so much about the individual campaigns but the electoral process as a whole.
As of March 23, 2020, the FIE 2020 team has analyzed 4,136 articles and 7,170 mentions of 2020 presidential candidates since January 1, 2019. Below are the narratives observed in Russian state-sponsored media about President Trump and Vice President Biden from March 2 to March 23, 2020.
President Donald Trump
President Trump received an additional 150 mentions in RT and Sputnik News since our last update. While the favorability of Trump’s mentions didn’t change since then (see Figure 15 above), there were a number of new narratives Russian media pushed or amplified about the president:
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Biden’s favorability distribution barely shifted since our last analysis (his positive mentions increased by one percent), but he remains a fixture of Russian media criticism. Since our last update, there have been 100 additional mentions of Biden in RT and Sputnik News. Below are narratives about Biden pushed or amplified in March:
As November nears, Russian state election 2020 coverage will likely continue to follow many of the same trends that FIE 2020’s analysis has covered thus far. Expect to see some of the following narratives emerge more prominently in Russian media over the coming weeks or months:
FIE will continue to analyze state-sponsored media until election day, though we’ll focus on issue-based coverage and examining the online reach of Russian, Iranian and Chinese state-sponsored media stories.