Why this story matters:
A fictitious account of Denzel Washington's support for Trump was republished by portals from all over the Balkans with spectacular titles like "Denzel Washington uncovers the Democrats' diabolical plan" and "The legendary Denzel Washington unmasks the Clintons".
Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman was under fire in the region after doing a piece on Srebrenica in his series "The story of us". He was immediately lambasted for using the word genocide -- the ultimate taboo in Serbia when it comes to Srebrenica.
Shortly afterwards, the Russian-owned site Sputnik merged the two stories in a spectacular pseudo-analysis entitled "Hollywood's war on Serbia and Russia". Washington and Freeman were juxtaposed as good and bad celebrities through a series of fabricated anecdotes.
It is interesting to note that the initial article that subsequently snowballed in the Balkans had been published by Your News Wire, which has been described as "a proxy for Russian propaganda" by the The European Union’s East StratCom Task Force. As it turns out, their writing proved an effective bait in areas vulnerable to Russian politcal influence.
Details from the story:
- The inspiration for repeatedly choosing Washington as a subject of these stories was probably found in his refusal to answer a reporter's question about who he supported in the 2016 elections. Washington's "None of your business" was hardly a statement of support for anyone, but it clearly didn't go unnoticed in Hollywood celebrities' almost unison criticism of Donald Trump.
- The latest installment of "Denzel supports Trump" originated from YourNewsWire, a website which has gained notoriety for promoting fake news stories.
- On February 3, the website published an article where it quotes Denzel Washington saying that Nunes memo is absolutely reliable and indicative of a larger plan by the Democrats to turn the U.S. into an "Orwellian police state".
- Some of the words they put in his mouth are incredibly detailed in presenting the memo as valid evidence of "anti-Trump bias" of the intelligence community: “Hell yeah, it’s reliable. We don’t need to know the nitty gritty to understand exactly what’s happened here. We know that a warrant to spy on the Trump team was issued based on media reports, and these media reports were based on information provided by an opposition research firm being paid by the DNC and Hillary Clinton. You guys can’t see what is wrong with this? You’re kidding me. Well I guess you are reporters. How many reporters was it that got caught colluding with the Clinton campaign?”
- The article goes on to assign more accusations against the Democrats, Clinton and the media -- none of which were ever really stated by Washington himself.
- "Sputnik" is also described as a media that regularly publishes false or unverified information which fall in line with the official state narrative. This routine has already prompted several European countries to classify it as "propaganda outlet, rather than news media", as quoted in the report.
- The same sources popped up in other fake stories of similar persuasion, like the one on "desecrated graves of Serbs in Sarajevo", Noam Chomsky's fabricated statements about Kosovo Albanians", or the U.S. "planning a war against Serbs"