Russia’s state-run media is gung-ho for Tulsi Gabbard. Joe Biden? Not so much.
That’s according to a new report released Tuesday by a research team at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The FPRI team parsed through 1,711 Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik News articles from Jan. 1 to Nov. 10 that pertained to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, then analyzed if the coverage of candidates was favorable, unfavorable, or neutral.
Both RT and Sputnik are funded by the Russian government, and they’ve been cited by the U.S. intelligence community as playing an insidious role promoting Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Among the 20-plus Democrats in the 2020 primary field during the period covered in the new report, Gabbard received far and away the most positive coverage, according to FPRI. Forty-six percent of her coverage was favorable, 44 percent was neutral, and just 10 percent was unfavorable. Compare that to Biden: Just 3 percent of the coverage was favorable vs. 53 percent unfavorable. He was also brought up by the Russian media a whopping 331 times, which was 127 more mentions than the next-closest candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Biden received the most mentions of any Democratic candidate and is the only candidate in the entire presidential field to receive more negative mentions than neutral mentions, or than neutral mentions and positive mentions combined,” the report read. “For Russia thus far, Biden is to 2020 what Hillary Clinton was to 2016.”
For other Democratic front-runners, the disparity between positive and negative coverage was less drastic. Eleven percent of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s mentions were favorable, while 59 percent was neutral and 30 percent was unfavorable. For Sanders, the breakdown was 19 percent favorable, 62 percent neutral, and 19 percent unfavorable.
The research team at FPRI said more than half the mentions involved President Donald Trump. Analysis on those mentions is set to be released in a separate, upcoming post.
But among the Dems, Gabbard was the only candidate to receive more positive mentions than negative or neutral ones. Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who led the research effort, offered his theories on why Gabbard earned positive Russian coverage.
“Her anti-war stance as a military member and shaming of U.S. establishment leaders is a wonderful vehicle for the Kremlin to divide the political left and pit populists against the establishment," he told NBC News.
Cover: In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during a news conference in New York. Gabbard’s fellow Democrats are nervous that she will mount a third-party bid for president. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)