The post-election developments in the USA through the lenses of the Serbian media

Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election but its echo is not dying away even twenty days after the polling stations had closed. We were waiting quite a long time for the winner to be announced since the counting was additionally slowed down due to a high number of mail-in-ballots. Besides, the epilogue of the court proceedings that the campaign headquarters of the current president Donald Trump initiated was waited upon.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris announced the victory on November 10. The U.S. mainstream media did the same, including Fox News, close to the Republicans. The world leaders, including the ones from the Western Balkans, congratulated the President-elect on his victory.

Besides, Donald Trump did not accept the defeat for a long time. In his first address after the closure of the polling stations, Trump stated that he won the election, then that the election was rigged and that he would seek justice before the court. His social media posts were regularly flagged as containing false, disputed, or misleading information.

For Trump and his campaign headquarters, the mail-in-ballots were debatable. They thought that the majority of the votes in the states where Trump had lost should be annulled. Trump used the same narrative on the election fraud during the election campaign on the occasion of this but also the previous presidential election, which the DFC already analyzed. What posed a problem for Trump is the fact that the Republican officials from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan – states in which the result was debatable, according to Trump – claimed that there were no irregularities. Equally, the courts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona rejected a lot of complaints initiated by Trump’s legal team.

Trump’s PR team from Serbia

Who will take over the White House for the following four years is of huge significance for the whole world, including the Western Balkans. That is one of the reasons why the media from the region were carefully monitoring and reporting on the post-election developments in the USA.

Donald Trump may have lost the uncompromising support of Fox News but one can conclude that he is still enjoying the support of the Serbia media corpus. And while it is understandable that the developments in the USA were one of the main topics in the Serbian media, it is certainly less understandable why the majority of them accepted wholeheartedly Trump’s claims on the rigged election and started defending him.

Besides the key narrative on the rigged election, the media wrote about the unrest in the USA, the crash of the U.S. democracy as well as the groups and persons behind the election fraud. Also, a part of the media directly attacked Biden, trying to present him as a threat not only to Serbia but to the whole world. The analysis of the Serbian media content in relation to the U.S. election displays a clear gradation of sensationalism. Suspicious developments on Election Day in a week turned into the epic fraud plotted by the deep state, mainstream media, and George Soros himself.

The Second American Civil War and the crash of democracy

After Trump’s statement that he would go to court, the supporters of both candidates started gathering in multiple U.S. cities. The President’s supporters gathered around the polling stations seeking that the counting be stopped, while Biden’s supporters celebrated and requested that the votes be counted. The protests were generally peaceful with a small number of isolated incidents. However, the news portals Alo, Sputnik Serbia, and presented the developments in the USA as a start of the new Civil War and hereby tried to depict the USA as a country in turmoil. Interestingly, Sputnik Serbia published a video from Minneapolis made at the protests Black Lives Matter held in May this year in a text about the unrest after the presidential election.

Half of Trump’s posts on social media were marked as false or incomplete information, while his address from the White House was cut away by the media outlets ABC, CBS, and NBC for the same reasons. Republika, Informer, Sputnjik Srbija, and immediately started defending Trump, not taking into account the misleading claims and accusations that the outgoing US President made without any proof. For them, the US developments were obstruction, censure, and the end to the freedom of speech, scandal, and new totalitarianism. The main message of these media was that the powerful Western mainstream media and social media owners undermined democracy and abolished the freedom of speech and that their sole mission was to oust Donald Trump.

Biden, an enemy of Serbs, will destabilize the world

Since the 2016 Presidential election, Donald Trump has been portrayed as a friend of the Serbs in most of the Serbian media, while his challenger has had the role of villain. The narrative that Joe Biden is one of the biggest enemies of Serbs, which has been present on social networks and in the Serbian media for more than a decade, has been brought to the fore again before, after, and during the November election. Referring to the comments of the journalist and political critic Milan Jovanovic, the news portals Kurir, Srbija Danas, Nacionalist and wrote, without providing any evidence, that Biden has been financially supported over the years by the Albanian lobby in the US.

Another narrative that could be found in the Serbian media presents Biden as a person who will start another armed conflict. As his victory in the election was just around the corner, the news portals Sputnjik Srbija and Novi Standard were announcing the new Cold War and the return of the United States to the aggressive war policy, while referring to the statements of Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov and Willy Wimmer, a former Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE. After the General Service Administration, the first official institution, had declared Biden’s victory, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg talked to the newly elected president and congratulated him on his victory. The Alo news portal entitled the news with the following headline: IT HAS BEGUN! Biden met the General, they are planning news strikes!¸with the article not corresponding to headline.

Election fraud, deep state, and Soros

The most visible narrative in the Serbian media was the one supporting Trump’s claims that the U.S. election was allegedly rigged. On the very first day of the election, Informer published a text reading that something strange is going on in the key states, while in the days that followed, something strange became the greatest election fraud and a coup d’état. The background of the election fraud that the Serbian news portals and tabloids were buzzing about had been uncovered. Different conspiracy theories entered the scene, with the main role allocated to George Soros and the deep state. Besides, the media have always used individuals’ claims and overall developments in the United States to modify them with their interpretations. For example, after the courts had dismissed a large number of lawsuits that Donald Trump’s team had filed, the Serbian version of Sputnik published a couple of days later that George Soros has been buying the American judiciary for years.

Donald Trump’s legal team headed by Rudy Giuliani has dropped the lawsuits filed to the court in Michigan. The same day, Giuliani presented a conspiracy theory at the press conference that George Soros and the deceased president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez were behind the election fraud. Sputnik Serbia, AloInformer, and Espreso republished the news without previously challenging it or questioning Giuliani’s assumptions.

Pro-Serbian media and news portals in Montenegro

Pro-Serbian media and news portals in Montenegro were also following the developments after the U.S. election with much attention, presenting similar or almost the same narratives as the ones found in the Serbian media. Even though the articles of IN4S, Borba, and Pogled were less sensational, they resembled the Serbian articles almost to the bone and they were mostly republishing the articles from Sputnik Serbia.

From the above-mentioned media, IN4S dealt with the U.S. election the most. Analyst Igor Damjanovic talked for IN4S about coup d’état in the United States and the influence of the deep state on the U.S. Election. Danilo Tvrdisic, a journalist and a publicist, talked about the election fraud and different conspiracy theories while appearing in the Serbian world TV show on the National IN4S TV. In that TV show, Tvrdisic consolidated all the narratives related to the U.S. election, which were emphasized both in the Serbian media and on social networks.