In the wake of the riots and violent storming of the U.S. capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 6, foreign state-sponsored media outlets from Russia, Iran and China took the opportunity to criticize the U.S. in coverage and, in the case of Russia and China, vilify Big Tech’s response to the day’s events.
The lead-up to Election Day in 2020 has had many twists and turns. Throughout the past year, however, we’ve seen a steady drumbeat of disinformation from foreign actors who continue to try and interfere in U.S. elections, their goals evident through the themes and narratives they promote on their state-backed media outlets.
Four years ago, Russian state-sponsored disinformation operations weaponized “Big Tech” platforms as tools to attempt to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In 2020, however, Kremlin-backed media outlets have turned against “Big Tech” itself.
Preferences for one candidate or the other in 2020 have been critical to understanding any foreign interference efforts in the lead-up to November—and for understanding potential influence efforts post-Election Day.
The first U.S. 2020 presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was filled with shouting, interruption and general on-stage chaos. RT and Sputnik News took the opportunity to highlight it as such.
Amid the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Russian state-sponsored news outlets RT and Sputnik News published a number of stories and opinion pieces covering both conventions. RT portrayed the DNC and former Vice President Biden especially negatively, while Sputnik News coverage was more mixed.