So-called Experts from the Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute concluded(1) Western media were systematically manipulated to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda and disinformation as part of a large-scale influence operation. British media outlets such as BBC, Sky News, The Times and others cover the report’s publication on the web.
According to researchers, the operation has targeted 32 media outlets in 16 countries, including The Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Times, Fox News and The Washington Post, Le Figaro, Der Spiegel and Die Welt, La Stampa etc.
The team identified 242 articles to contain pro-Kremlin or anti-Western sentiments in the comments sections about matters of relevance to Russia. The comments were fed back into Russian-language media outlets as the basis for stories.
The “study” was even commented on by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. In his opinion, “this report highlighted the threat to democracy from Russian state-backed misinformation on the Internet.”
Perhaps this material could really make a splash and demonstrate to European citizens the fact of the disinformation campaign against Great Britain, France and Germany…However, in February 2021, Anonymous released(2) documents showing the British Foreign Office financing Reuters and BBC, involving them in the implementation of secret programs with the aim of changing power in Russia and undermining its influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In addition, the Thomson Reuters Foundation and BBC Media Action are involved in a covert information war program to counter Russia. Through the “mysterious counter disinformation and media development department” within the UK Foreign Office, the aforementioned media worked hand in hand with various intelligence agencies in a secret alliance known as the Consortium. Moreover, a large-scale propaganda campaign, funded by London, aimed at changing the government in Syria, had already been exposed. Meanwhile, Bellingcat has been shown to have interfered with the 2019 elections in North Macedonia by backing the pro-NATO candidate. And there are dozens of such examples.
It turns out that the media, claiming to be “impeccable, impartial and authoritative sources of international news,” were completely compromised.
Returning to the Cardiff University’s report, I would like to ask the question “what in the end can do more harm: comments allegedly written on behalf of pro-Russian trolls, or a targeted, millions-worth information campaign, conducted under the auspices of the leading special services?” As for me, the answer is more than obvious.