- That ballot-stuffing takes place in Russia is not seriously in doubt
- however, BBC News used footage of the same two women ‘ballot stuffing’ in two different elections to substantiate claims of extent Russian vote-rigging
- coincidence or otherwise, revelation reflects poorly on BBC editorial practices
- BBC fails to respond to question whether it knew it had done so, or to concerns its choice was inadequate to support claims
Last month, the BBC showed footage of alleged ‘ballot stuffing’ in the Russian presidential election, which returned Vladimir Putin to office with a share of almost 77%. The footage, taken by CCTV, was described as showing one of ‘hundreds’ of locations across Russia – apparently captured by the Russian ‘Central Election Commission’ (CEC) – where such tampering with the election process had taken place.
The footage shown includes a striking coincidence – because it appeared to show the same two women stuffing ballots that the BBC had shown in a similar feature in the Russian legislative elections in 2016:
This may, of course, genuinely be a coincidence – but based on the banks of CCTV screens shown behind the BBC’s Russia correspondent Steve Rosenberg, it’s certainly a remarkable one as the CEC monitoring appears to have been extensive, as supported also by the ‘hundreds of violations’ line in the voice-over of the 2018 clip.
The SKWAWKBOX asked the BBC:
The footage you showed on today’s news bulletins of ballot stuffing (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09vl2d0/bbc-news-at-one-19032018 from 12 mins) appears to show the same two women stuffing ballots shown in the BBC footage of ballot-stuffing at an earlier presidential election embedded here https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/leaked-videos-clinton-voter-fraud/.
Did the BBC realise it was showing the same two women as in the last presidential election? Which other footage of such stuffing from the 2018 Russian election did you have and not show? Do you recognise the potential concern that such limited footage of alleged vote tampering is not adequate to support the implied widespread tampering alleged in your programming?
The BBC’s response did not address most of the specific questions raised. A BBC spokesperson said:
We stand by our report that there have been multiple violations and cases of rigging during Sunday’s Russian election, reported and confirmed by Golos, an election watchdog independent of government in Russia. The video footage shown on BBC News of rigging has been verified by our own user-generated content team for accuracy.
The SKWAWKBOX, of course, did not challenge the reality of vote-tampering in Russia, but rather the BBC’s reliance on video showing the same two women in different years – along with a handful of other clips showing similar behaviour – to substantiate the claim and how this might appear to sceptics.
The 2018 video was originally shown on the 1pm BBC News broadcast of 19 March 2018 (and possibly later programmes). This is no longer available on iplayer, but is still available on YouTube. The 2016 footage was taken from a 2016 Snopes article.
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