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27 Aug, 2018 19:45

Atlantic Council accuses RT of pro-Republican bias in midterm election coverage: That’s fake news

Atlantic Council accuses RT of pro-Republican bias in midterm election coverage: That’s fake news

The Atlantic Council ‘think tank’ has taken aim at RT for what it claims is a “systematic” pro-Republican bias in the run up to the midterm congressional elections, due to take place in the United States in November.

According to the think tank’s ‘Digital Forensic Research Lab’ (DFRLab), RT has produced a string of articles “biased against the Democrats and sympathetic towards the GOP” and “appears to have bias in coverage favorable to the Republican Party” as the midterm elections approach.

But, speaking of bias, it’s worth noting at the outset that the Atlantic Council essentially operates as NATO’s lobbying wing and is funded by a bevy of arms manufacturers and western governments – so it’s not too surprising that they’re out to gain a bit of publicity for themselves by pointing to some kind of Russian conspiracy at RT.

To reach the conclusion that RT is biased in its coverage of the midterm elections, DFRLab analyzed 31 articles published by RT between mid-June and mid-August. Of those, the lab decided that 19 were “strongly negative” towards the Democratic party.

Over the same period, they claim, RT “published no articles that were critical of the Republican party” and claimed that this “bias” was in fact so “systematic that it appeared to constitute an editorial policy of attacking the Democrats while boosting the Republicans”.

This, frankly, was a surprise to us, because it does not take too long to debunk the notion that RT is ‘pro-GOP’ –or pro-anyone, for that matter. We can understand, however, that if you go looking explicitly for the articles critical of Democrats, you will find them. At the same time, if you go looking for articles critical or mocking of Republicans –which DFRLab apparently didn’t bother to do– you will also find them.

It is revealing though, that the ‘Lab’ has decided to equate anything “anti-Democrat” with being “pro-Republican” by default. At RT, we just like to call it journalism. We cover the news and, if a Democrat happens to do something stupid, we’ll report it – even if it makes Democrats and their supporters upset. Likewise, we report the news if Republicans do something stupid or foolish.

Case in point: The series of articles we published in recent weeks critical of Republicans who fell for hard-to-believe pranks by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen – including Dick Cheney’s willingness to sign a “waterboarding kit” on camera, Roy Moore being tricked with a “pedohile detector” machine, a group of Republican lawmakers enthusiastically backing the notion of giving guns to preschool children, Sarah Palin mistaking Cohen for a war veteran and, last but certainly not least, Georgia Republican Jason Spencer, voluntarily running around half-naked after being told that his bare butt would scare off terrorists by turning them into homosexuals.

But let’s break it all down a bit more.

You see, DFRLab seem a little bereft of objectivity themselves when it comes to RT. In one of multiple weak jabs, the Lab scolds RT for being “negative toward” former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who plans to throw about $80 million behind Democratic candidates in the run up to the elections. Forgive us for not being nicer to the billionaire media mogul.

An objective analysis of RT’s coverage would reveal that a healthy dose of criticism has been dished out to both parties between June and August. This might be hard for the Atlantic Council to understand, given its own determined and unceasing efforts to go after RT with all manner of ridiculous claims. Projection, anyone?

Many of the articles DFRLab point to as evidence of anti-Democrat bias are simply instances of reporting on comments Democrats actually made and which were widely criticized – not just by RT. Like the time House Minority Leader suggested it was “a little bit sexist” to want younger Democratic leadership or the time she suggested“civilization as we know it” was at risk in the midterm elections.

DFRLab was also upset that we reported on how Hillary Clinton was widely mocked online for wearing a 'Simpsons-style' dress to a speaking event. They didn't mention that we give Republicans the same treatment when necessary.

Like the time a GOP Senate candidate was mocked online for tweeting that Michigan almost elected "a far left ISIS commie,” or the time former Trump advisor Roger Stone posted a picture of himself and a group of administration officials posing in 'space force' costumes adorned with swastikas. DFRLab also failed to mention articles like the one we published about the Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, who raised eyebrows after releasing a campaign ad in which he teaches his young child to "build a wall" with toy bricks.

DFRLab also claims that one RT article “suggests Twitter is supporting Democrats” in the midterms – which is fairly odd, because at no point in the article does RT say that Twitter is supporting Democrats. Instead, we reported on censorship of conservatives, some which even Vice News has done, so this is hardly an RT phenomenon.

In the timeframe that the Atlantic Council has suggested RT published “no articles that were critical of the Republican party,” we reported on the campaign of a holocaust-denying Republican nazi on the ballot in Illinois’ third district, Iowa Republican congressman Steve King’s seeming endorsement of a British far-right white supremacist, and Trump-supporting lawmakers embroiled in financial scandals.

We will continue to keep covering the elections as we always have – looking for stories that others don’t cover and providing an alternative perspective to mainstream media’s. DFRLab has promised to “continue monitoring” our coverage to sniff out our alleged biases. We invite them to look a bit deeper next time, but we won’t be holding our breath.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.