Russia’s propagandists on the Biden-Trump debate

The Bell

A presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was always going to be too tasty an affair to pass up for Russia’s hoard of propagandists. While the coverage on state TV was surprisingly calm, focused mainly on Biden’s health, columns published on pro-Kremlin sites were far more charged.

  • The main line on state TV boiled down to: Biden is physically weak and finds it tough to compete with the healthier Trump. “The important thing is not what was said, but how. And here, you wouldn’t envy Biden,” said a presenter on Channel 1. “In general, a clearly destructive process is underway in America. And the presidential debate was a clear example of that,” added one of Russia’s leading propagandists, Dmitry Kiselyov. That was pretty much it in terms of editorializing on the Russian airwaves — with many state TV programs instead simply picking up on reports in the US liberal media, which offered enough of a damning verdict of Biden’s performance. 
  • It was different when it came to the reaction online. Influential Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin (often inaccurately dubbed “Putin’s brain” in Western media) used his RIA Novosti column to compare the debate to an episode of Beavis and Butthead. “As a result of the debate, the great superpower of idiots acknowledged Trump’s victory. He carried himself better, his hairstyle was more convincing and more aggressive than that of sleepy Butthead, whose batteries ran out towards the end when he began groaning monotonously,” Dugin wrote. If these candidates and the US electorate “determine the fate of humanity … we have to admit that we’re finished,” he wrote. 
  • The author of another RIA column suggested that Biden was being propped up by “certain forces” that had “grabbed onto power and are prepared to cling onto it to the bitter end.” A columnist for Rossisskaya Gazeta, the government’s official newspaper, wrote simply: “How wretched it all looked.”

Support The Bell!

The Bell's Newsletter

An inside look at the Russian economy and politics. Exclusively in your inbox every week.