The German Marshall Fund (GMF), a US think tank, is reporting that Russia’s German-language channel RT Deutsch did not disproportionately cover the far-right AfD party compared to traditional German media outlets. However, the GMF did find that the channel’s coverage of controversial topics showed significant congruence with the political and social positions promoted by the AfD. According to the GMF report:
November 9, 2021 The alignment of interests between the German right-wing party, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), and Russia’s flagship German-language media outlet, RT Deutsch, is both well-documented and unsurprising, given the Kremlin’s penchant for supporting divisive, radical, or fringe political movements in the West. However, analysis of data collected by ASD’s German 2021 Election Dashboard found that in the months leading up to the election RT Deutsch did not disproportionately cover the AfD compared to traditional German media outlets (though an accurate count of mentions proved difficult due to false positives and the use of full party names versus abbreviations). Additionally, while RT Deutsch’s coverage of the AfD was more positive than that provided by German domestic media outlets, overt support for the AfD and its political leaders was rare. At the same time, RT Deutsch’s editorialized coverage of controversial topics ranging from vaccine mandates to refugee policies showed significant congruence with the political and social positions promoted by the AfD. This de facto support for the AfD’s political platform, if not the party itself, helped boost RT Deutsch’s popularity among AfD supporters, as evidenced by the fact that public AfD affinity groups and pages on Facebook were more likely to share RT Deutsch content than groups and pages associated with every other German political party combined.
Read the full report here.
In October, YouTube blocked RT Deutsch’s YouTube channels over Covid-19 misinformation.