The New York Times reported today that "A story about
protesters burning Bibles drew condemnation from conservatives. It now
appears to have been wildly exaggerated — and the first viral hit in
Russia’s 2020 disinformation campaign." It turns out that a small fire at the Portland protests used a Bible as kindling. The story was exaggerated by the Russian video website, Rutly, associated with RT and Russian government intelligence, and then circulated by American conservative media.
Accusations of desecrating scriptures are, in fact, rather traditional means of stirring outrage and persecuting opponents, especially in countries with strict blasphemy laws. Western news media also capitalized on such stories in the first decade of the 20th century, before realizing that they were part of the problem. Now they usually treat such stories with more restraint (see "Desecrated Scriptures and the News Media"). Today's conservative media does not, nor does it seem to care that it lets itself be used for propaganda.