Russian Media’s Final Election Push For Trump: Livescreening Hunter Biden ‘Sex Videos’ – The Daily Beast

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Moscow’s domestic propaganda apparatus—which targets Russian-speakers all over the world, including the United States—has blatantly disregarded the Kremlin’s stringent broadcast regulations and started airing excerpts of the so-called “Hunter Biden sex tapes” during primetime, almost daily.

As Election Day in America draws ever nearer, Russian state media is covering events in the United States with dogged determination—acting as though the U.S. was one of Russia’s provinces or colonies. The never-ending stream of news about American elections follows the same pattern as Fox News: all pro-Trump, all the time.

President Donald J. Trump remains Russia’s preferred candidate for a number of reasons, many of which are frequently articulated by pro-Kremlin analysts, pundits, and foreign policy specialists. Appearing on Russia’s state TV show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, the deputy dean of world politics at Moscow’s State University, Andrey Sidorov, explained that Trump’s re-election would undoubtedly benefit Russia. Sidorov concluded that the election of former Vice President Joe Biden would lead to the consolidation of the West—restoring NATO alliances badly undermined by Trump—and thus resulting in a united front, with additional sanctions against Russia for its ongoing malign activities.

Sidorov surmised that Moscow can’t help but be concerned with the outcome of the U.S. election, since it will directly affect the Kremlin. The host of the popular state TV show 60 Minutes, Evgeny Popov, worried out loud that the Biden presidency would mean “the administration and the White House filled with Russophobes.” Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is viewed through the same lens and a potential Harris presidency, following the Biden years, is another unwelcome prospect for the Kremlin.

Concerned with Trump lagging in the polls, Moscow is pulling out all the stops and throwing caution to the wind in a continued effort to help “Russia’s candidate.” One way to help the incumbent is the drumbeat of the alleged Hunter Biden laptop kompromat, which was widely perceived by Russian state media and various political figures as the 2020 equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s email controversy. Trump’s allies have long pushed conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden, with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his pal Andriy Derkachidentified as an “active Russian agent” by the U.S. Treasury department—flogging claims that Joe Biden interfered in an investigation of Burisma to help his son. (Biden has denied this charge.) A recent inquiry by the House Foreign Affairs Committee pinpointed “the specific origins of the Biden-Burisma conspiracy theory: a Russian disinformation effort launched in late 2015 by pro-Kremlin media.”

Weeks before the election, Giuliani and Steve Bannon leaked what they said were the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop to American media, claiming the hard drive held compromising emails and videos of the Democrat nominee’s son.

Appearing on 60 Minutes, Leonid Kalashnikov, chairman of a powerful Russian State Duma committee on relations with ex-Soviet states, opined that if the Hunter Biden scandal is aggressively promoted by the media, it has the potential to “seriously influence” the outcome of the presidential elections. Kalashnikov predicted that the controversy targeting Joe Biden’s son could help Donald Trump “to get back on the horse” and get re-elected.

Russia’s largest state news agency, TASS, made an inquiry to the FBI, attempting to obtain information about the bureau’s alleged investigation of Hunter Biden’s activities.

Russian state TV is also enthusiastically broadcasting what it claims are the “Hunter Biden sex tapes” during prime time.

Evgeny Popov, the 60 Minutes host, described the material, which is unverified and of questionable provenance, as video of “Hunter Biden’s orgies,” baselessly accusing Joe Biden’s son of incest, pedophilia, and even bestiality. Later, Popov bitterly complained when YouTube reportedly marked the video of the program as unsuitable for some audiences, describing the actions of the U.S. media giant as “repressions.” Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-funded propaganda networks RT and Sputnik, chimed in and suggested that Russia should be more aggressive towards Google and others.

In an ongoing attempt to sway American voters on their own soil, RT and Sputnik repeatedly publicized the unauthorized glimpse into Hunter Biden’s alleged private sex life, directly linking to the content on the web. Popov of 60 Minutes seemed deeply aggravated that the Russian attempts to draw attention to the videos failed to produce the desired effect: “There is no reaction!”

Popov and his co-host, Olga Skabeeva, were likewise irked by The Daily Beast’s coverage of the Russian state media that routinely exposes the strategy and the analysis behind Russia’s ongoing influence operations. Appearing on 60 Minutes in 2018, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov cautioned the hosts to be careful with their words: “Over here [in the United States], they are very attentively watching what you’re doing. They’re carefully following the topics you cover on your program.”

This Tuesday, when one of the panelists of 60 Minutes attempted to bring up The Daily Beast’s column that covers Russian state media and the Kremlin’s influence operations, both hosts promptly and loudly stopped him. This tactic is reminiscent of the Russian state media’s near-moratorium on uttering the name of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, aside from the time when his poisoning became a story too big to ignore.

Hunter Biden laptop kompromat was widely perceived by Russian state media and various political figures as the 2020 equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s email controversy.

Since the smears targeting Joe and Hunter Biden—boosted by the Russian state media—failed to produce the desired effect, Vladimir Putin stepped out of the shadows and jumped into action. During the broadcast of the Russian state TV program Moscow-Kremlin-Putin, the Russian president was asked about Trump’s claim that “Russia is still paying Biden.” Instead of dismissing this ridiculous notion outright, Putin grinned coyly and replied, “No comment.”

“I can’t remember the last time Putin replied ‘no comment,’” noted state media host Vladimir Soloviev during his Sunday evening show. He posed a question to the former KGB spy Andrei Bezrukov, who often appears on the program: “As a professional, how do you appraise such a response?” Bezrukov replied: “It’s explosive.” And yet, Putin’s tenuous subterfuge designed to harm Biden failed to land a punch. Nonetheless, with elections underway, Russian efforts most certainly won’t stop at that.

Appearing on 60 Minutes, Sergey Filatov, an assistant professor who teaches international journalism to members of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addressed the outcome of isolationist policies pursued by Donald Trump: “America is no longer the first. It’s all the way in the back.” The Kremlin continues to interfere in the U.S. elections in order to keep it that way.

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