Far-right website and conspiracy theorist The Gateway Pundit spent the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pumping out propaganda material and narratives from the Kremlin.
Founded in 2004 by Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit is a voraciously pro-Trump blog that has spread conspiracy theories about everything from the 2018 Parkland school shooting to former President Barack’s birth certificate. Obama, the Las Vegas mass shooting and the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. , Virginia. More recently, the blog served as a promotional platform for Russian propaganda in the month following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Between March 6 and March 9, Hoft published three articles promoting the repeatedly debunked – and Russian-created – conspiracy theory that the United States was funding biological weapons in Ukraine. Two of these articles relied on Russian state media. The conspiracy theory quickly spread through the right-wing media ecosystem.
In the second half of March alone, the blog based its coverage of the war in Ukraine on Russian propaganda at least four times:
- In a March 29 article, Gateway Pundit questioned “Western media” and their portrayal of Russia’s stance on the war in Ukraine. The site also said that Russia succeeded in destroying a “Ukrainian neo-Nazi entity that controlled Mariupol”, a claim that originally came from a Russian colonel general and was reported by Russian state media. CASS. Russia justified its invasion of Ukraine by promising to “denazify” the country and relied on the existence of a far-right movement as proof. But the movement, active in Mariupol between 2014 and 2015, separated its political and military wings in 2016. Its military wing has since been integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard.
- In the same March 29 article, Gateway Pundit also tried to throw cold water on reports that Russia was suffering “massive losses” in Ukraine. Although the article does not mention concrete figures, on March 25 the Russian Ministry of Defense told RT that the country had lost 1,351 military personnel, a far cry from Western and Ukrainian estimates of between 7,000 and 15,000.
- On March 14, a Gateway Pundit article embedded a video of the Russian representative to the United Nations telling the UN Security Council that a US biological research program in Ukraine had led to the spread of dangerous pathogens. Along with the video, the article included a transcript but, naturally, no mention that the whole narrative around the infamous bio-research labs and weaponizing pathogens has been debunked.
- On March 29, a Gateway Pundit article linked to a timeline from a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson claiming to show about 30 years of “U.S.-Ukrainian bioresearch.” The existence of the research labs was never a secret, but including the timeline involved some type of discovery. And the play includes pro-Russian language that characterizes Ukraine’s 2014 “Dignity Revolution” as an “unconstitutional coup in Ukraine.” The article included a warning to view the information with “extreme caution”, before reprinting the entire timeline without additional information.
In addition to relying on Russian disinformation and state media, Gateway Pundit has published several articles that advance Russian interests, including calling Ukraine a “former Soviet satellite”, claiming that the situation in Ukraine is “desperate” and “empire”. claiming that President Joe Biden is in a state of cognitive decline and claiming that Ukrainian refugees on the US southern border are being turned away because of COVID-19. (Russia has waged an anti-vaccine campaign in Ukraine.)
This is not the first time the website has repeated Russian propaganda. In 2016, articles promoted misinformation about alleged Democratic Party election fraud originating from the Russian troll farm the Internet Research Agency.
The Gateway Pundit has long been a far-right cesspool of conspiracy theories and hoaxes. The site called for violence against Democrats, supported white nationalists and celebrated the insurgents who stormed the Capitol on January 6. And now he is actively aiding an unprovoked, unjustified and inhumane invasion by giving a platform to Russian propaganda and propaganda.