- Narratives furthest below zero saw rhetorical choices more closely aligned with the emotion of fear. Narratives furthest above zero saw rhetorical choices more closely aligned with the emotion of trust.
- Narratives furthest below zero were based on reporting that was more subjective while those furthest above zero were based on reporting that was more objective.
Traditional Chinese Medicine helps fight COVID-19 ● Fear vs Trust: 5.5 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 2 A smaller but significant theme that emerged in the data was emphasis on Chinese traditional medicine (TCM) to combat COVID-19. While TCM narratives had high values for trust, they also had relatively low values for objectivity since there was little evidence to suggest that TCM was actually helpful in fighting COVID-19.
China is a leader in providing medical assistance to struggling nations ● Fear vs Trust: 6 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 3 China used rhetoric more closely associated with trust than fear to discuss its assistance to struggling nations. While much of China's aid was sold as exports instead of given away freely and was often sent from private organizations instead of the government, this narrative was mostly propaganda instead of conspiratorial disinformation.
Speculation on the origins of COVID-19 ● Fear vs Trust: 7 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 1 With limited objective reporting, the CCP and state-backed scientists highlighted research suggesting that COVID-19 was imported to China on frozen food and that it didn’t originate in Wuhan. Nonetheless, this narrative had high values for trust since the CCP wanted readers to believe the credible scientific reports on natural origins of the virus.
Chinese vaccine development ● Fear vs Trust: 5.5 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 4 Highlighting the trust that the world could place in Chinese vaccines to help end the pandemic, these tests frequently employed the word “cold” to showcase the difficulty of using Western mRNA vaccines compared to Chinese vaccines which didn't require advanced cold-storage freezers.
CCP brings unparalleled resources and organization to combatting COVID-19 ● Fear vs Trust: 3 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 3.5 Amplification was given to experts or international bodies, like the World Health Organization, who commented on successful aspects of China’s pandemic response. Significant attention was also given to forecasts of a full successful economic recovery and later improvements in China's economic situation.
Criticizing US blame of China ● Fear vs Trust: -2 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 4 This was China’s only narrative with a higher score for fear than trust. While most Chinese narratives centered around self-promotion, this narrative demonstrated an outward looking perspective. “Blame” emerged as a keyword with the CCP arguing that the US should stop blaming China for its public health crisis.
Lockdowns trigger violence and misery, infringe on personal liberties, and are largely ineffective ● Fear vs Trust: -10 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: -1 This narrative used fear-inducing language centered on anti-lockdown rhetoric. These messages presented global lockdowns as an infringement on personal liberties, argued that they triggered violent behavior, and caused general misery. Anti-lockdown protests received significant coverage.
Russian vaccine development ● Fear vs Trust: 4 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 5 Coverage centered around reports of the vaccine’s high efficacy as well as documentation of other nations ordering and receiving the inoculation. This type of messaging ensured that this narrative had Russia’s highest values for trust compared with fear-based rhetoric.
The West derails global efforts to combat COVID-19 ● Fear vs Trust: -4 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: -0.5 Unsurprisingly, messaging that western governments, in particular the US government, hindered the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was largely based on rhetoric associated with fear. US sanctions against Iran and Cuba received special attention.
Western governments are not be trusted and are massively incompetent ● Fear vs Trust: -9 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 0 Russia used fear-based rhetoric to portray the Western response to COVID-19 as massively incompetent. Because the US and the West more broadly is incompetent, Russian messaging argued that they shouldn’t be trusted by the rest of the world.
COVID-19 has sent the US into an irreversible downward spiral ● Fear vs Trust: 0.5 / Subjectivty vs Objectivity: 1.5 While focusing on a myriad of issues that was pushing the US into irreversible decline, this narrative was actually Russia’s second most objective since much of the reporting was on factual events including Black Lives Matter protests, upticks in firearm purchases, and covid-induced economic challenges.
|● China||Total Texts for Topic|
|1.||Traditional Chinese Medicine helps fight COVID-19||350|
|2.||China is a leader in providing medical assistance to struggling nations||5746|
|3.||Speculation on the origins of COVID-19||685|
|4.||Chinese vaccine development||1636|
|5.||CCP brings unparalleled resources and organization to combatting COVID-19||11325|
|6.||Criticizing US blame of China||1352|
|● Russia||Total Texts for Topic|
|7.||Lockdowns trigger violence and misery, infringe on personal liberties, and are largely ineffective||1534|
|8.||Russian vaccine development||2965|
|9.||The West derails global efforts to combat COVID-19||9463|
|10.||Western governments are not be trusted and are massively incompetent||7330|
|11.||COVID-19 has sent the US into an irreversible downward spiral||2696|