The three governments are pushing a host of matching messages: that the novel coronavirus was an American bioweapon, that the U.S. was scoring political points off the crisis, that the virus didn’t come from China, that U.S. troops spread it, that America’s sanctions are killing Iranians, that China’s response was great while the U.S.’s was negligent, that all three governments are managing the crisis well, and that the U.S. economy can’t bear the toll of the virus.
The report, which is not public, was produced by the department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) — a fledgling office focused on the global information wars — and reviewed by POLITICO. It makes the case that propaganda and disinformation narratives from those country’s governments have converged as coronavirus has spread. And it says that while the three governments have pushed out the same messages in the past, the global pandemic has seen the convergence of their messaging accelerate.
Some of the disinformation is produced by state-run media outlets, and some has been put out by the governments themselves. A website run by Russia’s Defense Ministry, for instance, highlighted the conspiracy theory that billionaire Bill Gates played a role in creating the virus.