To an untrained eye, USAReally might look like any other fledgling news organization vying for attention in a crowded media landscape. Its website publishes a steady stream of stories on hot-button political issues like race, immigration and income inequality. It has reader polls, a video section and a daily podcast.
But this is no ordinary media start-up. USAReally is based in Moscow and has received funding from the Federal News Agency, a Russian media conglomerate with ties to the Internet Research Agency, the “troll farm” whose employees were indicted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Caught flat-footed by the influence campaigns of 2016, intelligence agencies and tech companies in the United States have spent months looking for hidden Russian footprints ahead of the midterm elections.
USAReally’s website, which began publishing in May, does not advertise its Russian roots. But in many ways, it is operating in plain sight.