American Spring: How Russian State Media Translate American Protests for an Arab Audience
Media coverage of protests following the murder of George Floyd on May 26, 2020, tended to ascribe to the demonstrations two faces: One, presented by organizers and supporters, was a decentralized movement for peaceful change; the other was a violent conspiracy for the disruption of order. Good analysis has flowed into the question of domestic media bias in the coverage of Summer 2020’s historical events. Less attention, however, has been directed to the ways foreign media covered the protests. One of the most powerful voices in framing the story of the protests to a global audience was Russia’s state-sponsored media behemoth RT. And nowhere was RT’s particular take on the demonstrations more pronounced than its Arabic-language broadcast RT Arabic or RT3. Through the lens of discourse analysis, I focus on a small sample of quintessential reports to explore how RT3 covered Summer 2020’s momentous events, what their reporting tells us about Kremlin disinformation strategies, and how RT3’s coverage of the protests factors into the Kremlin’s greater geopolitical agenda vis-à-vis the Middle East and North Africa.