US Media Publishes Vaccine Disinformation Straight from Kremlin-Controlled Outlet

State-controlled outlet RIA Novosti now has a “Pfizer, Inc.” tag so readers can easily find negative press concerning the vaccine.

On Jan 15th, Zero Hedge, a hyper-partisan media outlettweeted a vaccine disinformation article. A total of 9 original tweets led to 119 quotes, 148 replies, and 1,068 retweets.

At least 6500 Twitter users retweeted the story to their followers. The story, republished by Zero Hedge, had first appeared on the Russian website RIA Novosti, warning about deaths linked to the Pfizer vaccine.

Ironic though it may be, disinformation spreads much like coronavirus. A minority of cases, or sources if its information, drive most of the cases in the next generation.

American news outlets recycled the disinformation and acted as super-spreaders. These US-based outlets concealed the story’s origin, thereby laundering the information into our country to unsuspecting readers. 

Outlets that published the story:

This highlights the danger of poor journalistic practices, which make it easier for adversaries to get stories to the American public where they sow doubt. Think of poor journalism like going to choir practice in a room with no windows and no masks. 

You won’t be spreading the gospel alone; that’s for sure. 

Outlets: Sputnik and RT bear a striking similarity in bias and reliability to right-leaning American Media. AP/Reuters for comparison. Publishing mostly reliable reporting is part of the disinformation model where RT and Sputnik do excellent reporting. This lends credibility to the 10–20% of propaganda generated.

State-controlled outlet RIA Novosti now has a “Pfizer, Inc.” tag so readers can easily find negative press concerning the vaccine.

These stories have already harmed both our public health and national security and it can get worse. 

Russia Saves Everybody, Says Russia

The other side of this disinformation coin is building up Russia. One columnist suggested that the Pfizer vaccine is a fiasco: “Russia Saves Everybody Again.” The article continues:

[Western pundits] would rather die than admit that Russia has made another scientific break-through and now, without expecting anything in return, are helping everybody. The West prefers to declare a war of vaccines, despite the fact that their own citizens are dying in masses.

The Kremlin disinformation machine has been casting doubt on the safety of Western vaccines using the decades-worn “big pharma“ trope. This narrative goes all the way back to the 80s and was a part of the famous influence operation “Operation Infektion,” which pushed stories about the US engineering HIV in Fort Detrick, MD.

Other Related Fake News Stories:

Side Effects Can Happen, So When Should We Worry?

Mistrust of your healthcare provider is yet another consequence of disinformation. The American medical community voiced concern that such focus on the negative consequences of vaccines paired with disinformation casting doubt on safety, would skew Americans’ perception. It appears those fears were justified. Anti-vaccine hucksters met in October 2020, before they could know whether the vaccines were safe, to strategize their messaging.

When we hear the same message over and over, we’re more likely to believe it, regardless of whether it’s true. This is called the illusory effect and it is a frequently used tactic of — you guessed it — Russia.

A summary of the known vaccine disinformation campaigns can be found in the graphic below with information from the First Draft Report, “Under the surface: Covid-19 vaccine narratives, misinformation and data deficits on social media.

Other trending stories a la Kremlin: