Hamilton Weekly Report: July 11-July 17, 2020

Overview Coronavirus coverage was again the primary through line in messaging from Russia, Iran, and China last week, with Russian state media and diplomats touting an alleged breakthrough in the country’s development of a vaccine (a claim boosted by Iran), and Chinese messengers hammering the Trump administration for botching its response to the pandemic. Outside of coronavirus coverage, Russia took aim at Ukraine, levelling familiar accusations against its neighbor for supporting far-right extremism and discriminating against Russian-language speakers. China lashed out at both the United States and United Kingdom over the latter’s decision to ban Huawei from its domestic networks an

Hamilton Weekly Report: July 4-July 10, 2020

Overview The United States and its allies were, once again, the primary targets of negative messaging from Russia, China, and Iran’s diplomats and state media last week. Kremlin-funded media hammered the Baltic states for a second straight week after Lithuania joined Latvia in banning several Kremlin-funded media outlets, and attacked various transatlantic countries on issues related to Huawei, Nord Stream 2, and arms control. China’s messengers continued their months-long criticism of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus (which included a renewed effort to promote a conspiracy theory related to the origins of the virus), while also attacking Canada, Australia, and

Hamilton Weekly Report: June 27-July 3, 2020

Overview Besides the ubiquitous coverage of the coronavirus, Russia, China, and Iran’s state media and government messengers last week hit on familiar themes for each of their respective countries. For Russia, that meant elevating claims of “Russophobia” in relation both to The New York Times’ reporting on U.S. intelligence’s conclusion that Russian military intelligence offered bounties to the Taliban to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan, as well as Latvia’s decision to ban seven RT channels from its airwaves. For China, that meant warnings to adversaries challenging the party state—whether in the context of foreign criticism over Hong Kong’s new national security law

Hamilton Weekly Report: June 20-26, 2020

Overview Besides ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, there was little narrative overlap in messaging from Russian, Chinese, and Iranian government officials and state media, besides the ever-present strain of anti-Americanism. For most of the week, Russia’s messengers covered topics closer to home, with Victory Day celebrations receiving significant coverage, particularly on Twitter. Russian state media also continued to stir up controversies related to Joe Biden and Ukraine, with a series of tweets and articles alleging malfeasance by the former vice president and presumptive democratic presidential nominee. The big news of the week, of course, was the allegation made by The

Hamilton Weekly Report: June 13-19, 2020

Overview For the first time since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, coverage of racism, police brutality, and related protests did not feature among the top ten hashtags or key phrases (in aggregate) used by Russian, Chinese, and Iranian diplomatic and state-funded media accounts last week. That said, anti-racism protests and additional cases of police brutality in the United States continued to be widely covered, particularly by Iranian media and diplomats on Twitter and on CGTN America’s YouTube channel. As is customary, pandemic coverage dominated the outputs of all three countries, though coverage last week was less antagonistic than noted in weeks past. Outside of pandemi

Hamilton Weekly Report: June 6-12, 2020

Overview As with the past four months, the coronavirus was yet again the primary topic discussed by Russian, Chinese, and Iranian messengers, though the specific narratives differed depending on the country. China’s diplomats and state media, for example, attacked a Harvard report suggesting that the coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan as early as August 2019, Russian messengers touted advances from Russian scientists in the development of a coronavirus vaccine, and Iranian state media promoted its humanitarian aid to Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanction. In addition to coronavirus coverage, protests in the United States and other democratic countries were again a focus, though the vo

Hamilton Weekly Report: May 30-June 5, 2020

Overview Russian and Chinese government officials and state media continued to use the ongoing protests and unrest following the killing of George Floyd to portray the United States as a country that is at once repressive and lawless. Beyond highlighting incidents of looting and police brutality (particularly against foreign journalists), both countries also sought to cast the U.S. response to protestors as hypocritical in light of past and present criticisms of human rights abuses in other countries. In the past week, “hypocrisy,” “double standard,” and related search terms appeared in nearly 200 tweets and 20 articles across the two dashboards. Analysis of those tweets and artic

Hamilton Weekly Report: May 23-29, 2020

Overview The steady drumbeat of coronavirus coverage that has dominated Russian and Chinese messaging over the past four months gave way over the weekend to coverage of the George Floyd protests in the United States. Although most of the coverage occurred outside the timeline of this week’s report, the focus on social, political, and racial unrest in the United States signifies a return to form for Russia and, perhaps, a tactical shift for China, whose government officials and state media have typically avoided or limited their coverage of issues that do not directly touch on China’s core strategic interests. In the 48-hour period from Friday to Sunday night, #GeorgeFloyd was the most

Hamilton Weekly Report: May 16-22, 2020

Russia Toplines The coronavirus remained the most dominant topic for the Russian media ecosystem last week, with no change in the amount of coverage from the previous week. In non-coronavirus coverage, two other topics of interest emerged: messaging (largely from government and diplomatic Twitter accounts) highlighted reports of rising anti-Semitism in the West, and coverage of the Biden-Poroshenko tapes sought to cast doubt on Ukrainian independence and the legitimacy of former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s efforts to remove a former Ukrainian prosecutor general. Meanwhile on YouTube, RT America covered privacy and surveillance concerns sur

Hamilton Weekly Report: May 9-15, 2020

Russia Toplines The coronavirus, while still the most prominent topic in the Russian media ecosystem last week, continued to decline in prominence for the third week in a row. At the same time, World War II Victory Day messaging predictably reached its zenith on the day itself (May 9). Like in previous years, it largely emphasized the Soviet Union’s role in the war, general celebratory themes, and cooperation with Allied countries. However, accusations that the United States was rewriting history by downplaying the Soviet contribution trended—a familiar theme emanating from the highest levels of the Russian government. Finally, a small amount of coverage addressed the week’s develop