Conservative media outfits are so desperate for news stories that comport with their worldview that they’re willing to gobble up and regurgitate even the most transparent, dishonest propaganda.
Recently, numerous right-wing outlets including The Blaze and The Daily Wire (rising conservative star Ben Shapiro’s website) ran stories on a viral video which claims to show a feminist activist in Russia pouring bleach on men in subway cars for “manspreading,” a term used to describe men taking up too much space in public places. It’s already racked up over 6.5 million views on Facebook.
The video has stirred up outrage from the toxic men’s rights and anti-feminist segments of the internet, who have seized on it of an example of how women are apparently collectively losing their minds. There’s just one major problem with the video.
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According to EU vs Disinfo, a website dedicated to debunking and combatting Russia’s countless disinformation campaigns, the “manspreading” video is really a staged project starring paid actors. It first rose to viral prominence after being shared by a tentacle of Russia Today, the state media network of the Russian Federation which regularly spreads propaganda.
One of the men in the video has since admitted that he was paid to appear in it. EU vs Disinfo explains that stirring up misogynist sentiment was likely the goal of the video and that it fits the “modus operandi” of the “troll factory” that Putin’s regime runs in St. Petersburg.
The factory regularly sows extreme, opposite political and social views in order to spread disagreement and instability. The anti-feminist backlash created by the video is also in keeping with propaganda regularly spewed by the Russian state media. Such efforts to divide were weaponized during the 2016 election and used to turn Americans against each other.
To summarize: it seems that American conservative outlets took a prepackaged piece of Kremlin-backed propaganda, failed to thoroughly vet it, and blasted it out to their followers. It’s journalistic malpractice, hurts the United States, and helps our adversaries.
Below, you’ll find a Youtube video from Rebel Media that dissects the video at face value, showing just how gullible some conservative can be.