Last updated on February 9th, 2020 at 11:54 am
A questionable source exhibits one or more of the following: extreme bias, consistent promotion of propaganda/conspiracies, poor or no sourcing to credible information, a complete lack of transparency and/or is fake news. Fake News is the deliberate attempt to publish hoaxes and/or disinformation for the purpose of profit or influence (Learn More). Sources listed in the Questionable Category may be very untrustworthy and should be fact checked on a per article basis. Please note sources on this list are not considered fake news unless specifically written in the reasoning section for that source. See all Questionable sources.
- Overall, we rate Sputnik Questionable based on frequent promotion of conspiracies and pro-Russian propaganda, as well as use of poor sources and numerous failed fact checks.
Reasoning: Russian Propaganda, Conspiracy, Poor Sourcing, Some Fake News
World Press Freedom Rank: Russia 148/180
Sputnik is a Russian news agency and radio broadcaster which publishes online stories and radio shows, as well as videos. In 2013, via a presidential decree by Vladimir Putin, the radio station Voice of Russia and RIA Novosti news service was abolished and replaced by Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today, not to be confused with RT). In 2014, Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) launched Sputnik and conservative news anchor, Dmitry Kiselyov was appointed as Director General of Rossiya Segodnya. Kiselyov is known for ultra conservative views and anti-gay comments.
According to their about page, Sputnik describes itself as “The agency covers global political and economic news targeting an international audience.” Sputnik is based in Moscow.
Funded by / Ownership
Sputnik is owned and funded by the Russian Government to promote Russia’s image abroad. The Sputnik news service produces over 1,500 news items daily and around the clock that are available to subscribers via the web terminal and mobile app. The website also serves online advertising.
Analysis / Bias
Sputnik is often accused of reporting ‘fake news, spreading misinformation and being a “Kremlin Propaganda Machine” by European and American media outlets. In 2017, the FBI launched an investigation into Sputnik for a potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
In review, Sputnik’s coverage regarding American Politics leans right and is consistently pro-Trump: “FBI Memo Implies Dossier on Trump Russian Collusion Funded by Clinton.” Sputnik also frequently uses strongly loaded emotional wording in headlines such as this: “WATCH: Philly’s New Year Parade Act Sees Trump, Putin Fight Over ‘Pee Tape’”
Sputnik routinely publishes articles that promote conspiracy theories such as those about the murder of Seth Rich, which fact checker Snopes has debunked. Sputnik also employs conspiracy theorists such as former Breitbart writer Lee Stranahan, who was hired as co-host of a radio show for Sputnik Radio, called “Fault Lines with Nixon and Stranahan”. Lee Stranahan also appears as a guest on Alex Jones’ Infowars program, which is famous for promoting outrageous right-wing conspiracies.
When it comes to sourcing, Sputnik occasionally uses credible sources such as Reuters and CNN, however they also source to known conspiracy sites such as Infowars: “InfoWars Alex Jones Talks Brexit, Freedom of Speech in US, Political Correctness” and “Anonymous Exposes UK’s Hybrid Warfare Project”. Further, they frequently source to their own articles or they use large blocks of quotes.
According to Google Fact Check Explorer, Sputnik has a very poor fact check record with 17 misleading or false claims. Below is a small sampling of their many failed fact checks:
- Sputnik Falsely Blames India’s Sell-Off of US Securities on ‘Weaponization of the Dollar’ – FALSE
- Sputnik Falsely Accuses UN of Supporting the White Helmet Disinfo Campaign Sputnik, Itself, Spreads – FALSE
- Sputnik and Zvezda Falsely Claim Hitler’s Mein Kampf is more popular than Harry Potter in Latvia – FALSE
- Is the US Evacuating IS Members from Syria? – FALSE
- Sputnik: Nevada Declared ‘State of Emergency’ Over Marijuana Shortage – FALSE