The Anatomy of a Moral Panic: Western Mainstream Media’s Russia Scapegoat


Since 2014, there has been a very concerted campaign launched by the neo-liberal Western mainstream mass media against Russia. The format and content suggest that this is an attempt to induce a moral panic among the Western publics. It seems to be intended to create a sense of fear and to switch the logic to a series of emotionallybased reactions to assertion propaganda. Russia has been variously blamed for many different events and trends around the world, such as the “destroying” of Western “democracy”, and democratic values. In many regards, Russia is projected as being an existential threat in both the physical and intangible realms. This paper traces the strategic messages and narratives of the “Russia threat” as it is presented in Western mainstream media. Russia is connoted as a scapegoat for the failings of the neo-liberal democratic political order to maintain its global hegemony; therefore, Russia is viewed as the “menacing” other and a desperate measure to halt this gradual decline and loss of power and influence. This ultimately means that this type of journalism fails in its supposed fourth estate role, by directly aiding the hegemonic political power.

Author Biography

Greg Simons, Uppsala University, Sweden; Turiba University, Latvia; Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Greg Simons, Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden, the Department of Communication Sciences and Business Technology Institute at Turiba University in Latvia, and the Centre for Comparative Studies of Toleration and Recognition of the Ural Humanitarian Institute, Ural Federal University, Russia, is associate professor that engages in research into different aspects and areas of global mass communication, such as public diplomacy, journalism, crisis, and conflict situations. He also analyses the current global transformations in global politics and international relations.


How to Cite
Simons, G. (2019). The Anatomy of a Moral Panic: Western Mainstream Media’s Russia Scapegoat. Changing Societies & Personalities, 3(3), 189–206. doi:10.15826/csp.2019.3.3.071