Why Putin must be loving Comrade Matt Drudge
The mainstream media has (justifiably) been scrutinizing, and Congress and federal investigattors have been examining, Facebook’s role in Russia’s plan to tamper with the 2016 presidential election in an effort that put former media darling Donald Trump in the White House,
Meanwhile, Media Matters‘ Matt Gertz has been looking at another of Vladimir Putin’s long-term propaganda comrades, one that has been looming largely under the mainstream media’s radar:
On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew. The next day, President Barack Obama alleged that the responsible parties were Russian-backed separatists seizing territory in the region following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Obama’s statement came amid a furious effort by Russian propaganda outlets to foster confusion about the act. In their telling, the tragedy had actually been a failed attempt by Ukrainians to shoot down President Vladimir Putin’s plane.
The Russian propaganda effort received a substantial boost when right-wing internet journalist Matt Drudge highlighted a story on the topic from RT.com, the website of the Russian government-backed English-language news channel RT. Drudge titled the resulting item on the Drudge Report, his highly trafficked link aggregation website, “RT: Putin’s plane might have been target…” in bright red text.
After Drudge propelled the RT story to his massive audience, it was picked up by right-wing U.S. conspiracy websites. (Others on the right warned that Drudge had gone too far by aiding a Russian disinformation campaign.)
Yet the right generally is forgiving of such behavior from Drudge Report because he is a hero at catapulting their propaganda. Gertz continues:
This was not an anomaly. Drudge has for years used his site as a web traffic pipeline for Russian propaganda sites, directing his massive audience to nearly 400 stories from RT.com and fellow Russian-government-run English-language news sites SputnikNews.com and TASS.com since the beginning of 2012, according to a Media Matters review. Those numbers spiked in 2016, when Drudge collectively linked to the three sites 122 times.
Drudge’s increasing affinity for and proliferation of Russian propaganda comes amid what The New York Times calls “a new information war Russia is waging against the West.”
And if you missed Jim Rutenberg’s article in The NYT Magazine, here’s just a taste:
Officials in Germany and at NATO headquarters in Brussels view the Lisa case, as it is now known, as an early strike in a new information war Russia is waging against the West. In the months that followed, politicians perceived by the Russian government as hostile to its interests would find themselves caught up in media storms that, in their broad contours, resembled the one that gathered around Merkel. They often involved conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods — sometimes with a tenuous connection to fact, as in the Lisa case, sometimes with no connection at all — amplified until they broke through into domestic politics. In other cases, they simply helped promote nationalist, far-left or far-right views that put pressure on the political center. What the efforts had in common was their agents: a loose network of Russian-government-run or -financed media outlets and apparently coordinated social-media accounts.
The whole enchilada is worth a read.
Drudge Report‘s penchant for promoting Putin’s propaganda makes him as inportant a component of the “fake news” media ecosystem as InfoWars or Breitbart “News” [sic].