It has emerged that an article posted on the personal blog of Matthew Gordon-Banks, a former British MP, appears to have been plagiarised from Russian state-owned news agency TASS.
A match of such magnitude raises questions of journalistic and ethical integrity. When substantial portions of an article mirror another source, it raises concerns about originality and the content’s authenticity.
A closer examination of the two articles reveals that while the initial section of Gordon-Banks’ piece appears to be reworded, the remainder is nearly identical to the TASS publication. Additionally, the TASS article’s use of American English is also mirrored in Gordon-Banks’ work, further fueling the allegations.
A 77.4% match suggests that a significant portion of the content is identical between what Gordon-Banks has published and what TASS has published. While it’s possible for two different articles on the same topic to have some overlap in phrasing or facts, such a high degree of similarity demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the same article.
According to Lisa, an expert in media and communications that I spoke to, “It’s highly unethical for anyone to plagiarize work, especially from a Russian state-owned news agency, and present it as their own. Such actions can lead many to perceive it as promoting Russian propaganda.”
Lisa also commented, “It’s ironic that while Mr. Gordon-Banks asserts he doesn’t typically quote Russian diplomats or figures, there seem to be instances where Russian state positions are replicated verbatim in his work.”
Why Do I Believe It’s Russian Propaganda?
It’s vital to discern potential biases or propagandist tendencies when examining an article online. As I looked at the article from TASS which was republished by Gordon-Banks, several characteristics seemed indicative of typical propaganda.
Here’s my reasoning:
- Emotionally-Charged Language: Propaganda frequently employs emotionally-laden language to guide readers towards a particular viewpoint. In this piece, phrases like “Ukraine is fated either to capitulate on Moscow’s terms or cease to exist as a state” are evidently crafted to provoke strong reactions, indicating a lack of impartiality.
- One-Sided Perspective: Balanced journalism strives to present various sides of a story. In stark contrast, the TASS article primarily paints a negative image of Ukraine, the U.S., and European nations, without affording any counter-arguments or alternative views. This singular approach often aims to reinforce a specific narrative.
- Grandiose and Unsupported Claims: Propaganda often hinges on bold statements that may not be underpinned by solid evidence. Assertions in the article, such as “Ukraine has lost 53.7% of its population since 2014” or drawing direct links between Ukraine’s actions and European financial woes, are dramatic and require thorough verification.
- Absence of Source Verification: Trustworthy journalism is rooted in verifiable sources. As such, the statistics and quotes in the article should be corroborated with other reputable news agencies. In the absence of such cross-checking, readers risk being swayed by potentially skewed information.
- Agency’s Reputation and Ownership: Recognising the origins of news is paramount. TASS is a state-affiliated Russian news agency. Like many such agencies around the world, its content might bear influences or align with governmental stances. While not every article they produce is propaganda, it’s wise to approach their pieces with a degree of caution, always seeking secondary verification from neutral outlets.
Taking these factors into account, there’s a convincing argument that the TASS article exhibits propagandist tendencies.
The Track Record
As of publication, there hasn’t been an official statement or clarification from Matthew Gordon-Banks regarding these allegations, but last time we asked for comment we received abuse. You can read more on that here.
Update – When challenged, well, this happened. Gordon-Banks added an attribution and pretended it was there all along.
Matthew, this is false. We archived the original version of this article before we contacted you. It did not include what you have only now added at the bottom, it made no mention of or reference to TASS. You added this and are now pretending it was there all along. Here is a… pic.twitter.com/wolZuCQ8WK
— UK Defence Journal (@UKDefJournal) October 2, 2023