This is how Russia's leading TV news channel covered allegations that the Kremlin hacked the DNC
As the Democratic National Convention kicks off in the United States, the focus of the American media is shifting suddenly to Russia, where two of the Kremlin's intelligence agencies have allegedly orchestrated a bold cyberattack against the Democratic Party. On Sunday morning, July 24, Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, went on national television and said bluntly that thousands of Democratic National Committee emails were stolen and leaked “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.” Meduza looks at how Russia's biggest TV news station handled this story.
The emails in question show that DNC figures discussed ways to reduce Bernie Sanders' chances of defeating Clinton in the party's primaries. Since Mook's allegations, the US news media has been flooded with reports and speculation about the evidence suggesting Russian state involvement. Donald Trump himself weighed in on the subject, calling Mook's claim “the new joke in town.”
Given the seriousness of the allegations, as well as the fact that the Russian media typically demonstrates great interest in the US presidential election, you might expect the story to be headline news in Moscow. It is not, however, and even Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's official spokesperson, declined to comment on the matter this morning, when asked by reporters.
According to the agency “Medialogiya,” Rossiya 24 (formerly known as Vesti) is far and away the most cited television news network in Russia, attracting twice as many citations as the runner up, another state-controlled station, Channel One. On the front page of Rossiya 24's website, at the time of this writing (when it is evening in Moscow on Monday, July 25), there is only one news report about Trump or Clinton: a short story about Trump overtaking Clinton in national polls by five percent.
Much earlier on Monday, however, the network did report the Clinton campaign's hacking allegations. Dated at 1:20 a.m. on Monday, July 25, Rossiya 24 reported the allegations, though the broadcast focused more on what was revealed in the leaked emails than the cyberattack charges. Rossiya 24 also aired a looping video of Hillary Clinton doing a doubletake while meeting with journalists at a cafe. The channel's anchor mocked her reaction, and claimed that she had evaded reporters' questions about the leaked DNC emails.
Rossiya 24 says the video was published by the Republican Party in response to Clinton's allegations that Russia orchestrated the cyberattack on the DNC, but the footage is actually six weeks old—recorded on June 10 at a cafe in Washington, DC.
“The Trump rival starts doing a doubletake right in the middle of an interview [sic], apparently in an effort to make a joke. Judging by the reaction of journalists, the attempt to play to the crowd didn't really work. And nobody understood the joke,” explains the Rossiya 24 anchor. The segment then cuts to Clinton telling the reporters, “You guys have got to try the cold chai” (though the Russian narrator translates this as “cold chocolate”).
In reality, Clinton was deflecting questions about whether she would choose Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. It's also apparent from other videos that Clinton's doubletake joke, as well as the obvious refusal to talk about Warren, actually elicited a good deal of laughter among the press.