Wednesday 10 March 2021

Western propaganda about ‘vaccine disinformation’ is just another Russiagate

 Department of State accuses Russia of disinformation campaign against US vaccines

Moscow has strongly rejected such accusations, and, on numerous occasions, suggested to cooperate in the development of vaccines

8 March, 2021

WASHINGTON, March 9. /TASS/. Four Russian websites, allegedly directed by Russia’s intelligence services, are spreading false information against US anti-coronavirus vaccines, US Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Monday.

When asked to comment on a Wall Street Journal article claiming that Russia is waging a disinformation campaign against US vaccines, Price replied: "We can in fact confirm that our Global Engagement Center has identified four Russian online platforms that are directed by Russian intelligence services and spread disinformation."

"These sites have, in fact, included disinformation about two of the vaccines that have now been approved by the FDA in this country," he said, without giving the exact names of those websites.

"It is very clear that Russia is up to its old tricks, and in doing so is potentially putting people at risk by spreading disinformation about vaccines that we know to be saving lives every day," he continued. "The Global Engagement Center, other entities here is focused on countering disinformation and propaganda globally, not only in the Russian context, but, of course, the Russians have been engaged in this effort for some time now, as we know."

Moscow has strongly rejected such accusations, and, on numerous occasions, suggested to cooperate in the development of vaccines.

What happened to facts and science? Western propaganda about ‘vaccine disinformation’ is just another Russiagate

Nebojsa Malic


8 March, 2021

By accusing Moscow of spreading disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, US propagandists that spread the original ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy are doing it again, stoking fear and hatred and projecting amid a pandemic.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed State Department official to claim that Russia is using four websites “linked to” intelligence agencies to “inject false narratives” about Western vaccines against Covid-19 that “can be amplified” by other media. 

Asked about this on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is “monitoring” and “taking steps to address” these efforts. Meanwhile, the WSJ report was being, well, amplified on Twitter by prolific influencers declaring the alleged Russian behavior to be a “crime against humanity.”

Thing is, all of this amounts to a disinformation and influence operation itself – by the very methodology the people involved are using. The WSJ source is someone from the Global Engagement Center, set up in 2016 as a propaganda shop against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists, which was later expanded to advancing “fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests” and countering “Russian disinformation.” 

The claim that the four websites were Russian spy cutouts was “a result of a joint interagency conclusion,” the Journal cited an unnamed State Department spokesman as saying. In other words, just like the infamous ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ that made Russiagate official.

The WSJ article also previews a “report” – published Monday – by the Alliance For Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund NGO notorious for their 'Hamilton68 dashboard' that promoted and amplified Russiagate by seeing ‘Kremlin bots and trolls’ everywhere.  

Now we’re getting somewhere! Except the report itself ends up being full of qualifications, weasel-words and hair-splitting parsing of how certain headlines in the media are “coded,” in an effort to, well, promote a narrative. 

ASD analyzed tweets – of course they did – from Russian, Chinese and Iranian media and concluded that “there were few instances of any studied country promoting verifiably false information about vaccines” but that reports about certain Western vaccines “were often sensationalized while downplaying or completely omitting key contextual information.”

Keep in mind that demanding “context” is a favorite trick of so-called fact-checkers to argue that something is false even when factually true. 

As ASD itself admits, Russia, China and Iran sought to persuade their own public that their vaccines were “safer, more effective, and more affordable than certain vaccines produced in the West.”

Except, that’s what clinical trial results published in reputable Western medical journals such as Lancet literally say when it comes to Sputnik V. Doesn’t matter, it’s now “disinformation” to point out facts that the Russian vaccine costs less than the mRNA vaccines made in the West, or doesn’t require their expensive cold storage.

ASD even admits in a tweet that they believe “info strategies” of Russia, China and Iran “represent a balancing of public health needs, economic pursuits, geopolitical posturing, & other strategic interests” rather than targeting Western vaccines with negative messaging – which is itself a strawman of ASD’s own construction, but whatever.

By now it should be obvious that the allegations of a ‘Russian disinformation campaign’ are about as dishonest as the original Russiagate, which isn’t surprising considering it’s coming from the same quarters. It is also reminiscent of last year’s attempt by the EU’s propaganda shop to allege the same thing, only to be torched by independent academics as “border[ing] on disinformation” by their own definition of the term.

To the Wall Street Journal’s credit, they did reach out to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, and quoted his dismissal of the State Department and ASD claims as “nonsense.” Peskov also said that Russian intelligence has “nothing to do with any criticism against vaccines.” 

If Russia treated every negative story about Sputnik V as a result of Western spy efforts “we would go crazy,” Peskov added, because such stories are published daily. That’s a verifiable fact, and the examples are legion.

In his inaugural speech, Joe Biden told Americans he would value facts and science. The science on Sputnik V is pretty clear, while even “troll hunters” admit the reports of side effects of certain other vaccines are factual as well. So why defy both facts and science to allege some sort of Russian conspiracy – again?

Could it be that Biden and his VP Kamala Harris have spent the past year demonizing President Donald Trump’s coronavirus policies and even vaccines, only to do a 180 now that they’re in charge? So we get things like making up stories about “starting from scratch” or accusing Russia of “amplifying narratives” or some such nonsense, to deflect blame from their own statements sowing vaccine skepticism among Americans.

While both hypocrisy and scapegoating come as easily as breathing to someone who’s been in politics for 50 years now, there’s a pandemic on and people are dying. So c’mon man, kindly knock it off.

On Monday, The New York Times cited unnamed US government sources as saying that the Biden administration is considering retaliating for the alleged Russian hacking of American government agencies and corporations discovered in late 2020.

The Kremlin is seriously concerned over media reports about a possible US cyberattack against Russia, the Russian president's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday. 

“This is alarming information because a rather influential American news outlet admits the possibility of such cyberattacks. Actually, this is nothing but international cybercrime and, of course, the fact that this news outlet acknowledges the possibility of the US being involved in this cybercrime is a reason for our extreme concern”, Peskov pointed out.

He also recalled that as far as Russia is concerned, it has never been involved in cybercrimes.

"In this context, it is important to recall that we have repeatedly stated and still insist that the Russian side, the Russian state has never had and has nothing to do with any manifestations of such cybercrime and cyberterrorism”, the Russian president’s spokesman underscored.

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