‘Press 2 if hackers needed’: Russian FM April Fools voicemail leaves US media unamused
On April 1, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a spoof voicemail offering “Russian hackers services” and “election interference.” And the mainstream US media appears not amused.
“You have reached the Russian embassy, your call is very important to us. To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponents, press one,” the message posted on the ministry’s official Facebook page says, playing first in Russian, then in English.
“To use the services of Russian hackers press two,” it goes on.
“To request election interference, press three and wait until the next election campaign. Please note that all calls are recorded for quality improvement and training purposes.”
The tongue-in-cheek prank is in response to the claims of Russia’s alleged meddling in the last year’s US elections, as well as accusations of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russian officials.
However, not everyone seems to be into April Fools mood, as Matthew Chance, a senior CNN reporter called it an “attempt to sort of laugh off the very serious allegations” during a live interview on the network.
Russia Foreign Ministry posts April Fools' Day gag…. or is it?https://t.co/WgSN2oXfxh
— Matthew Chance (@mchancecnn) April 1, 2017
“After living there for a few years I do know the Russians actually have a very wicked sense of humor. I think the problem is some Americans may not take this as being so funny,” another commentator on CNN said.
The Associated Press news agency wasn’t quite sure how to react to the April Fools stunt, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. An AP correspondent had contacted the ministry and asked to “officially confirm that the recorded message was a joke,” the ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook.
“It’s quite simply a spoof, it’s quite simply funny. There is a serious message underneath it, though, because none of these allegations have been investigated correctly, or substantiated. So why shouldn’t the Russians take their proverbial, have a joke, take the mickey out of the Americans? I think they should, I think we should all lighten up, it’s once a year, it’s just a bit of fun,” Jon Gaunt from the UK’s Referendum Party, a famous British TV and radio personality and also a social commentator told RT.
“I didn’t realize the Russians have such a good sense of humor,” he added.
'Read my lips – NO!' #Putin slams allegations of Russian meddling in US election https://t.co/JCZB1TsRip pic.twitter.com/NShiZKck9F
— RT (@RT_com) March 30, 2017
Earlier this week, another American network, ABC News, broadcast an interview with Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. Only nine percent of Americans think of Putin favorably, the ABC host told Peskov, who wasn’t surprised with such attitude.
“The US public have been a target for severe anti-Russian propaganda, and they felt victims of that propaganda, and because of that, the American people think that yes, Russian hackers are everywhere, in every fridge, iron, and so on and so forth,” the Russian official said.
On Friday, WikiLeaks released a batch of documents detailing CIA hacking tactics and how the US agency can divert forensic investigators from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the spy agency. One of the documents revealed that the framework supports the ability to “add foreign languages” to malware, listing Chinese, Russian and Korean in the example code, indicating the potential for the CIA to focus attention on another party to be blamed for the hack.
CNN, however, decided to not cover the story, Gaunt told RT.
“CNN is the so-called news network that gave questions to Hillary Clinton during the debate. So we shouldn’t really take them seriously. When it comes to laughing matters, they are now the laughing stock of the news world,” the British commentator and politician said.