Tsargrad.tv, a conservative Orthodox Christian TV channel in Russia, reported on July 4 -- U.S. Independence Day -- that only 47 percent of Americans are proud of their country.
The report, headlined, “In the last 15 years the number of patriots in the US fell three-fold,” concluded that “such results speak for themselves” and are “visual proof” that the “latest political turmoil in the U.S. is forcing Americans to be less proud of their country.”
While the tsargar.tv report accurately cites the number of poll respondents who said they were “extremely proud” of their country, it entirely misrepresents the overall poll results, leaving out key details like the scale Gallup used to show the different levels of pride expressed by the Americans who were polled.
Indeed, while 47% of the poll respondents by tsargrad.tv said they are “extremely proud” of their country, the combined number of respondents who said they are “extremely,” or “very,” or “moderately,” or “only a little” proud of their country was 95%.
The original Gallup poll states: “While the 47% who are extremely proud to be Americans is a new low, the vast majority of Americans do express some level of pride, including 25% who say they are ‘very proud’ and 16% who are ‘moderately proud’. That leaves one in 10 who are ‘only a little’ (7%) or ‘not at all’ proud (3%).”
“The Russian media’s willful misinterpretation of the Gallup poll reveals a common and consistent tactic used in disinformation: the use of factually accurate but manipulated or incomplete information to support a position,” Bret Schafer, social media analyst at the German Marshall Fund, told Polygraph.info.
Schafer said the tactic is an example of “classic information manipulation,” which employs a partly true narrative rather than a wholesale fabrication or “fake news,” making it far more difficult to debunk.
“Of course, RT and other propaganda outlets want to paint a picture of America that is unflattering, so ignoring context and key details is clearly a strategic editorial decision,” Bret Schafer said.
The tsargar.tv reference to “political turmoil” as the reason for the drop in patriotism among Americans seems to be an accurate reflection of the conclusions drawn in the Gallup report.
Summarizing the implications of the recent poll, Gallup stated: “Fewer than half of U.S. adults are extremely proud to be Americans, something that had not been seen in the prior 17 years Gallup has asked the public about its national pride. Politics appears to be a factor, with sharp declines evident among Democrats and political liberals and no decrease among Republicans and conservatives.”
According to Schafer, the exploitation of the existing societal divisions is another traditional part of Russia’s disinformation strategy.
“Going back to the Cold War, Russian information operations have long preyed upon real and existing societal divisions in America, from racial strife to political polarization. It is important to stress that Russia did not create these divisions, but they have effectively exploited them. The strategy, in essence, is to turn the cracks in our system into chasms,” Schafer said.
Tsargrad.tv is owned by Konstantin Malofeev, an oligarch targeted by U.S. Treasury sanctions for his role in the Ukraine conflict and annexation of Crimea, as well as accusations of involvement in a failed coup in Montenegro, and Russia’s active measures in the Balkans.
The TV channel is popular among Russian nationalists worldwide.