Russian State-media Shifts Away From Fawning Coverage of Trump, Observers Say

The critical attitude is even reflected in comments by a commentator said to have been hand-picked by President Vladimir Putin.

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The Kremlin, as seen through Moscow fog, Mar. 6, 2017.
The Kremlin, as seen through Moscow fog, Mar. 6, 2017.Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Kremlin-funded media in Russia, which had been showing what the Bloomberg news service described as "fawning coverage of President Donald Trump," have been scaling back the positive reporting on the American president, a number of analysts are now saying.

Amid allegations that Russian authorities had interfered in the U.S. election campaign in an effort to get Trump elected, the elation over Trump in Moscow seems to be waning, observers say, adding that it is also reflected in what viewers of the English-language broadcasts of the government-funded station Russia Today (RT) get to see.

"Kremlin-controlled news outlets used to root for Donald Trump’s election. Now they’re reveling in the chaos and division of his early presidency," writes Michael Crowley on the Politico website. "It’s not that the Kremlin-controlled outlets, which all but explicitly rooted for Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton last fall, have changed their view of the New York mogul. It’s that Moscow’s main goal was always to undermine the U.S. political system, regardless of who is in the White House, experts said."

Crowley cites, for example, a headline in the Russian government funded Sputnik English-language news outlet on March 3 that read: “Immigrants See American Dream Fade in Wake of Surge Hate Crimes.” And then there are the comments of a Russian television commentator, Dimitry Kiselyov, who was reportedly personally appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and whom Crowley quotes him as saying that “America is in the grips of hatred.”

Even the Kremlin itself has apparently changed its tune. CNN reported that President Vladimir Putin's deputy spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, made the following lukewarm comment about the U.S. president about a week ago: ""We have heard various statements by President Trump. We are full of patience and we are waiting for the moment when the statements are followed by actions."

This is all coming at a time when questions are being raised over alleged contacts prior to Trump's inauguration between people who have become senior officials in his administration and the Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak.

For his part, Politico's Crowley added: "Shifts in how Russia reports on U.S. politics can offer important clues about Putin's latest views of America. And at the moment, Putin seems to be reveling in the sense of crisis gripping U.S. politics."