In the last full week of coverage prior to Election Day, Russian state media continued to advance several familiar themes, including promotion of Hunter Biden allegations, claims of media bias, criticism of the two-party system, and claims of improprieties in the voting process. Of note, a tweet from RT amplifying voter fraud claims was labelled by Twitter under its Civic Integrity Policy, resulting in a predictable backlash and a series of “Big Tech censorship” articles from the outlet. RT also published a small number of articles pushing back on Biden’s statements regarding the threat that Russia poses to U.S. national security. As per usual, Chinese and Iranian state media were less focused on the U.S. elections, though both took time to loft criticism at the democratic process and reiterate their neutrality in the election. Global Times’ Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin, for example, compared President Trump and former Vice President Biden’s exchanges to Errenzhuan, a traditional Chinese folk song/dance that involves funny dialogue and profanities. Meanwhile, multiple Iranian state media outlets cast doubt on allegations of Iranian interference. Outside of election coverage, Russian state media featured substantial coverage of the diplomatic fallout surrounding French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial statements on Islam and related political cartoons following terrorist attacks in France, highlighting criticism of Macron from various predominantly Muslim countries. Iranian coverage was similarly critical of Macron, with #Islamaphobia and #Islamaphobic used in more than 30 tweets mentioning the French president. On the China dashboard, Chinese government officials and state media figures criticized the United States’ record on race and human rights to deflect criticism of state-sponsored labor camps in Xinjiang. Finally, unusually for the Russian Twitter network tracked on Hamilton, the most engaged-with tweet last week came from a diplomatic account: the Russian embassy in Madrid. The embassy mocked a Spanish judge’s assertion that an offer of Russian military support had been made to Catalonian independence movement figures, and Russian state media furthered absurdist takes on the alleged plot.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.