The “October Surprise” unleashed by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has turned out to be a dud of epic proportions—so sketchy that the author of the New York Post’s article reportedly refused to add his name to the byline. Despite glaring credibility issues, Giuliani argued the story should be widely disseminated. “Even if it isn’t accurate, the American people are entitled to know it,” he said.
The Trump administration’s trusty bedfellows at the Kremlin apparently adhere to the same philosophy. Russian state media outlets are going overboard to promote and legitimize the Hunter Biden allegations. Their desire to see Donald J. Trump re-elected is unwavering.
It seems their increasingly overt support for Trump is motivated by fear. 60 Minutes, which is broadcast on Russia’s most prominent state media channel Rossiya-1, reported that Trump is trailing behind Joe Biden in the polls and “will most likely lose the election.” They played the clip of the American president threatening to leave the country in the event he isn’t re-elected. “To Moscow, he’ll come to Moscow,” sniped co-host Olga Skabeeva. Tuning in from the United States, correspondent Denis Davydov weighed in: “Will the agent return to Moscow? Most likely not.”
Back in 2019, Russian state media commentators pointed out that “sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power," and joked about offering Trump asylum. In 2020, Trump supplied more fodder for the same line of thinking with his own commentary about his floundering campaign.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and pro-Trump actors all over the globe are working to ratchet up the pressure against his opponent. Pro-Kremlin channel NTV, which recently aired a multi-part series, "Bidengate," filled to the brim with outlandish allegations against the former vice president, opined that the alleged revelations pertaining to Hunter Biden may end up costing his father the election. Program Vesti on channel Rossiya-1 likewise predicted that Hunter Biden’s alleged email scandal could influence the outcome of the U.S. elections, describing the release of materials as the best possible pre-election gift for Trump and his campaign.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the Hunter Biden laptop stories are part of a Russia-spawned disinformation campaign targeting Biden. The FBI is currently investigating whether the materials in question were released as part of a possible foreign disinformation operation. More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have expressed their belief that the dump of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
Russian state media’s extensive multilingual coverage of the allegations emits the familiar stench of Moscow’s ongoing interference in U.S. elections. Based on past propaganda successes, there was the unspoken anticipation that the alleged Biden kompromat would gain as much traction as Hillary Clinton’s email controversy in 2016.
When the mainstream U.S. media outlets didn’t take the Hunter bait and the sharing of the story was temporarily curtailed on social media, Kremlin-controlled news channels couldn’t hide their frustration—and jumped into action.
Over the last seven days, English-speaking RT published more than 20 stories mentioning Hunter Biden’s alleged emails. RT’s sister outlet, Sputnik managed to shovel out 24 such pieces—and counting. Russia’s Moscow-based broadcasters rivaled the coverage, targeting not only domestic audiences, but hundreds of thousands of Russian-speakers living in the United States, many of whom continue to consume the Kremlin’s propaganda in their native language.
Multiple op-eds and articles, pumped out by RT in rapid succession, openly cheered for Joe Biden’s downfall. One of them angrily described the former intelligence community officials who voiced their belief that Russia was involved in the latest attempts to denigrate Biden as “a gaggle of proven liars who bear at least some of the blame for four years of Russia hoaxing against President Donald Trump,” concluding that “the U.S. political and media systems” are “broken.” Other RT pieces proclaimed: “No escape for Biden” and “Disaster for Joe,” describing the release as “a damaging story for Joe Biden, who has seen his national poll numbers slip” and bitterly complaining that “a story so explosive it should have reverberated from sea to shining sea for many weeks” was instead “squashed.”
Moscow’s state media coverage of the allegations betrays the remarkable alignment with President Trump’s de-facto state media outlets like Fox News and OAN, as well as the president himself. On the flipside, Russian propagandists cover Biden with undisguised displeasure and even rage. The thought of a Biden presidency followed by four or eight years of Kamala Harris fills pro-Kremlin analysts with dread.
In 2011, during his visit to the Kremlin, Biden told Putin: “I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.” In response, Putin smirked: “We understand each other.” The Russian president prefers to interface with world leaders who are either subservient or clueless. In Trump, he has both. Russian media is unabashedly boosting the U.S. president who advocates for better relations with Russia, while Moscow continues its underhanded efforts to sink the United States.
Favorable coverage of any sitting U.S. president by Kremlin-funded networks is unprecedented in modern history. Russian politicians, talk-show hosts, media pundits and analysts make no attempt to hide the Kremlin’s preference for Trump’s re-election. The statement by White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, “We've put so many sanctions on Russia there's almost nothing left to sanction," was perceived in Moscow as the white flag of surrender. “There won’t be any more sanctions, they have nothing left to impose,” concluded Skabeeva, the 60 Minutes co-host.
With nothing left to sanction, there is nothing left to fear—and no need to hide the Kremlin’s brazen election interference, some of which continues to unfold in plain sight. During Monday’s live airing of 60 Minutes, co-host Evgeny Popov comforted the viewers with a reminder that the outcome of the U.S. elections didn’t turn out according to the polls four years ago. At the conclusion of the show, Popov smugly surmised: “Our candidate still has a chance.”