Experts note muted media reaction to alleged Russia-linked cyberattack on pipeline

Media top headlines May 13

The lack of media outcry over a possible Russian government link to the attack by a Russia-based ransomware gang on the Colonial Pipeline is another example of the Biden administration getting a “pass,” experts tell Fox News.

President Biden has told the press there is no evidence “so far” that Russia is involved in the cyberattack by the group DarkSide. Outlets have mentioned DarkSide’s Russian roots but rampant speculation about possible involvement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former spy with keen interest in disrupting U.S. operations, has been absent in coverage.

And now, despite the Biden administration response being “muted and non-confrontational,” Jacobson observes, the same media “that pushed the Russia collusion conspiracy claim is downplaying the impact and mostly ignoring the Biden non-reaction.” If these media outlets were “consistent,” he says, they would be asking “what does Putin have on Biden?” and they would be “throwing fits.” 

“This is just another example of media giving the Biden administration a pass,” Jacobson said.

Jeffrey McCall, a media studies professor at DePauw University, agreed that it’s been “curious” to watch the media ignore Russia’s potential involvement.

BIDEN REFUSES TO SAY IF HE KNEW COLONIAL PIPELINE PAID HACKERS $4M-$5M TO GET PIPELINE BACK ONLINE, PER REPORTS

“Some news accounts simply reference ‘the ransomware attack’ without a specific origin, or point the blame generically at ‘a criminal group in Russia,’” he says. “It is curious to see this coverage appear to downplay the Russian connection, particularly whether this cyberattack could have happened without nodding approval from the Russian government.” 

The media, McCall adds, is much more intent on running with the gas shortages angle, or a different news cycle altogether.

“The establishment media seems unwilling to investigate the story from the standpoint of international relations, but finds it easier to look at gas lines and gas prices,” he said. “While it is true that there are other news items taking space in the news agenda, this cyberattack has many high impact implications that are missing from the reporting thus far.  The media seem more interested in the GOP squabble over Liz Cheney, for example, than this more impactful cyberattack story.”

Some social media users were in agreement on both factors – that Russia was likely more involved than it is letting on, and that the media is guilty of another double standard when it comes to how outlets covered the Biden and Trump administrations.

Wednesday intended to strengthen U.S. cyber defenses and improve the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Although the Colonial Pipeline is back up and running, many states are still experiencing long lines at the gas pumps.

Biden urged Americans Thursday to not panic over the shortages.

Cortney O’Brien is Editor, Flash at Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @obrienc2.
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