After the August 20 car-bomb assassination of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a Russian ultranationalist political philosopher, US media outlets quickly branded the 29-year-old as an agent in Russia’s “disinformation war.” Rather than treating her as a member of the civilian press, they seemed to downplay her death as a casualty of war.
CNN (8/27/22) ran an article to this effect, failing to characterize her murder as an assassination, instead stating Dugina was “on the front lines” of Russia’s war effort, linking her to “Russia’s vast disinformation machine.” NPR (8/24/22) reported that Dugina was a “Russian propagandist” whose killing signaled the war was coming to Russian elites in their own territory. Foreign Policy (8/26/22) called Dugina a “dead propagandist” whose “martyrdom” did more to achieve her goals in death than she could have hoped for in life.
It is certainly true that during her life, Dugina, who espoused the philosophy of Russian Eurasianism, an expansionist political doctrine veiled as an objective analysis of Russian interests, had very little impact on Western audiences. This is true of most Russian journalists, despite the frequent warnings in US corporate media about the threat posed by Russian media messages. For instance, RT, often considered the foremost Russian outlet in the West, accounted for only 0.04% of Britain’s total viewing audience in 2017 (New Statesman, 2/25/22), and reached about 0.6% of the UK’s online population from February 2021 to the start of 2022—and this was before Western media platforms sharply restricted access to RT and other pro-Moscow outlets in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.