MOSCOW — Russians weren’t waiting for Robert Mueller’s report with quite the same excitement as Americans.Remember that the famous Jan. 2017 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was the basis for alleging that Russia interfered with the 2016 American election. It consisted mostly of complaints about Russian news media stories, and said:
Russian state media’s coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency has vacillated between breathless adoration, mockery and outrage, but one thing has been consistent: The idea of Russia electing and controlling an American president has always been deemed absurd. Most references to the Mueller inquiry and the Trump-Russia story in state media are preceded by a qualifier: “the so-called Russia investigation,” as the prominent TV host Dmitry Kiselyov puts it.
It’s not just the state media that has rejected the idea that Mr. Trump colluded with Russia. Even liberals and opponents of President Vladimir Putin have been deeply skeptical, pointing out that Russia’s ruling circles are barely competent enough to prop themselves up, let alone manipulate a superpower.
When the news broke last week that Mr. Mueller had finished his report, Moscow’s political and media circles reacted with a mixture of contempt and derision.
We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 ...
We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence. ...The NSA was not sure that the negative Clinton coverage was intended to help Trump. Maybe Russia was expecting Clinton to win the election and was simply putting out anti-American propaganda.
Starting in March 2016, Russian Government- linked actors began openly supporting President-elect Trump's candidacy in media aimed at English-speaking audiences. RT and Sputnik-another government-funded outlet producing pro-Kremlin radio and online content in a variety of languages for international audiences - consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional US media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.
Russian media hailed President-elect Trump's victory as a vindication of Putin's advocacy of global populist movements ...
Putin's chief propagandist Dmitriy Kiselev used his flagship weekly newsmagazine program this fall to cast President-elect Trump as an outsider victimized by a corrupt political establishment and faulty democratic election process that aimed to prevent his election because of his desire to work with Moscow. ...
Russia used trolls as well as RT as part of its influence efforts to denigrate Secretary Clinton. This effort amplified stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton and the role of WikiLeaks in the election campaign. ...
RT's coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism. Some Russian officials echoed Russian lines for the influence campaign that Secretary Clinton's election could lead to a war between the United States and Russia.
Or maybe the Russians were just reporting the facts. The American news media were overwhelmingly opposed to Trump, and were preoccupied with denigrating him with weirdo conspiracy theories. There were a few exceptions like Hannity and Limbaugh, but the American news media appeared to be more under partisan political control than the Russian's.
I am not endorsing Russian news. Russia just passed a law against "blatant disrespect" of the state, and against "fake news". Repeat offenders face up to 15 days in jail. But sometimes Russia reports stories that are hard to find elsewhere. See for example this video today of Trump, where YouTube attaches a disclaimer that RT is funded by the Russians.
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