A former editor at Russia’s biggest state-run media company has admitted that he and his colleagues got direct orders from above to give President Donald Trump positive coverage during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza reports that Russian journalist Dimitri Skorobutov gave a talk at a conference for journalists in the Netherlands earlier this month in which he talked about the ways the Russian media worked relentlessly to boost Trump’s candidacy and to disparage the candidacy of his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Me and my colleagues, we were given a clear instruction: to show Donald Trump in a positive way, and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in a negative way,” he said.
Skorobutov elaborated on these instructions in a followup interview with Lizza after the conference.
“Sometimes it was a phone call. Sometimes it was a conversation,” he explained. “If Donald Trump has a successful press conference, we broadcast it for sure. And if something goes wrong with Clinton, we underline it.”
As an example of how this would work, Skorobutov pointed out that Russian media pounced on footage of Clinton stumbling as she walked up stairs to promote a narrative that she was hiding some debilitating illness. This narrative was eventually taken up by the Trump campaign to show that Clinton did not have enough “stamina” to be president.