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GOP funds messaging sites that look remarkably like trusted local news

By anonymous following x   2019 Mar 12, 12:37pm 206 views   4 comments   watch   nsfw   quote     share    

Local news is trusted more than national news, but that could change.

A variety of Republican Party messaging websites have been popping up, styled after local news sites. These sites claim to be "unbiased," but they are actually funded by Republican donors, candidates, and organizations. Politico has been chronicling the appearance of these sites, and an investigation from Snopes published last week reveals GOP funding sources for three similar sites: The Tennessee Star, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun.

The trend started gaining steam in 2017. In Maine, a website called the Maine Examiner was revealed to be owned by a top Maine Republican Party official after the site had reportedly influenced a contentious mayoral election. Democrats lodged an ethics complaint, but the party official, Jason Savage, said his work on the website was not related to his work for the party.

The Maine Ethics Committee declined to investigate the Democratic Party's complaint, but recent news of leaked emails that were passed to Savage and the Maine Examiner during the election could reopen the possibility of an investigation.

The tactic marks an aggressive shift in how politically motivated information is distributed. Poynter notes that Americans across the political spectrum trust local news media more than any other kind of media, whereas Americans trust online-only news sites the least. Making an online-only media site look like an extension of a truly well-established local newspaper or TV station is a way to capitalize (or prey) on some of that trust.

California's Devin Nunes, a Republican US Representative, tried a similar tactic in recent years. In February 2018, he started a blog called the California Republican—an obvious enough name—although the website described itself as a "media/news company" that focused on "the best of US, California, and Central Valley news, sports, and analysis." Like any local news site, it broke headlines down by region and had some limited sports coverage. Still, the site accurately notes at the bottom (albeit in very small print) that it is "Paid for by the Devin Nunes Campaign Committee."

Most of these politically motivated sites do not disclose who is paying for them, and in many cases, the content does not include bylines.

In 2018, Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward extensively promoted an endorsement from The Arizona Monitor (which no longer exists). Soon, however, the Monitor was revealed to be a blog that had been set up just a few weeks before it published the endorsement. The Arizona Monitor classified itself as a "news site" on Facebook, according to Politico. Like the Maine Examiner, it operated anonymously, without any disclosure of who was working for it or where its funds were coming from.

Local? Or local-like?

The latest spate of GOP messaging sites masquerading as local news sites is more subtle. The Tennessee Star looks like a local news site, though it is allegedly funded and run by people with close ties to the GOP, with advertisers that have a history of making large donations to GOP candidates.

In April 2018, Politico noted that the stories on the Tennessee Star rarely had bylines, and no masthead was published, although the site did publish a masthead after Politico's story ran. The owners of the site include Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy. The former is "a conservative commentator and radio host," according to Politico, and the latter is a "local political activist who also writes for Breitbart, though Breitbart is not itself involved in the Star."

According to a story published last week by Snopes, Gill "owns a media consulting company that at least one candidate and one Political Action Committee (PAC) paid before receiving positive coverage in The Tennessee Star." Other writers for the site have worked for PACs that they write positively about, without disclosing that fact, according to Snopes.

Still, the site claims in its Google text that it is the "Most reliable local newspaper across Tennessee." The Tennessee Star claims it "provides unbiased updates on Investigative Reports, Thoughtful Opinion, Sports, Lifestyle."

Leahy claimed to Snopes that The Tennessee Star was funded by advertising, as traditional local news sites are, but Snopes only found three advertisers on the site.

"All three are owned by prominent Tennessee conservatives who have donated significantly to conservative candidates, causes, and PACs in the past," Snopes wrote.

Replicating the model

Gill and Leahy, along with conservative activist Christina Botteri, have recently started two more sites that appear to be local news sites despite essentially being GOP messaging sites: The Ohio Star and The Minnesota Sun. These sites include stories about Ohio and Minnesota politics, but the sites have a lot of content in common.

Gill, Leahy, and Botteri have also apparently started an umbrella company, Star News Digital Media Inc., that aims to replicate this "local news" format in other battleground states, despite an opaque funding situation.

Besides leveraging the trust that Americans have for local news sites to spread Republican Party messaging, they also may serve a financial purpose. These so-called news sites can act as a vehicle for essentially unrestricted campaign advertising. Snopes notes that "because Star News Digital Media is neither a candidate nor a PAC," campaign contributors can buy ads on these sites without limit, which "blurs the line between journalism and political campaigning."


#GOP #FakeNewsSites #Propganda

1   TrumpingTits   ignore (1)   2019 Mar 12, 9:07pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

About time the GOP fights fire with fire.

Kakistocracy says
These... act as a vehicle for essentially unrestricted campaign advertising.

Like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS do each and every hour of each and every day.
2   d6rB   ignore (1)   2019 Mar 13, 8:39am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Kakistocracy says
Local news is trusted more than national news

unfortunately, nearly all local news are owned by

TrumpingTits says

They are no different than CNNPC, other than they have harder time hiding local issues that PTB do not want to advertise
3   jazz_music   ignore (6)   2019 Mar 13, 6:04pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

d6rB says
They are no different than CNNPC, other than they have harder time hiding local issues that PTB do not want to advertise

They are VERY DIFFERENT from CNNPC in that CNNPC is not even relevent and GOP already dictates contents to nationwide talk radio, Cable TV/ Associated Web Opinion "political and current events" LOL PLUS Sinclair local TV channels contractually obligated to never criticize Trump PLUS run mandatory nationally distributed segments.

GOP's charity to the wealthy is gaining control of most sources available even after already dominating the majority of audiences.

THAT'S NOT EVEN ALL EITHER. After all the encouraging results of GOP control of narratives, they are introducing NewsGuard which is initially a plugin. They are experimenting with the power to completely shut down anti-propaganda narratives.

NewsGuard markets to the general public is a browser plugin which advises online media consumers whether a news media outlet is trustworthy or untrustworthy based on a formula with a very pro-establishment bias which sees outlets like Fox News and the US propaganda outlet Voice of America getting trustworthy ratings while outlets like RT get very low ratings for trustworthiness. This plugin dominates the bulk of what comes up when you start researching NewsGuard, but circulating a plugin which individual internet users can voluntarily download to help their rulers control their minds is not one of the more nefarious agendas being pursued by this company. The full MintPress article gives a thorough breakdown of the yucky things NewsGuard has its fingers in, but here’s a summary of five of its more disturbing revelations:

1. The company has created a service called BrandGuard, billed as a “brand safety tool aimed at helping advertisers keep their brands off of unreliable news and information sites while giving them the assurance they need to support thousands of Green-rated [i.e., Newsguard-approved] news and information sites, big and small.” Popularizing the use of this service will attack the advertising revenue of unapproved alternative media outlets which run ads. NewsGuard is aggressively marketing this service to “ad tech firms, leading agencies, and major advertisers”.

2. NewsGuard’s advisory board reads like the fellowships list of a neocon think tank, and indeed one of its CEOs, Louis Gordon Crovitz, is a Council on Foreign Relations member who has worked with the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation. Members of the advisory board include George W Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, deep intelligence community insider Michael Hayden, and the Obama administration’s Richard Stengel, who once publicly supported the need for domestic propaganda in the US. All of these men have appeared in influential think tanks geared toward putting a public smiley face on sociopathic warmongering agendas.

At a Council on Foreign Relations forum about "fake news," former Editor at Time Magazine Richard Stengel directly states that he supports the use of propaganda on American citizens - then shuts the session down when challenged about how propaganda is used against the third world https://t.co/ClAT5POv7G

 — @williamcraddick

3. Despite one of its criteria for trustworthy sources being whether or not they are transparent about their funding, the specifics of NewsGuard’s financing is kept secret.

4. NewsGuard is also planning to get its news-ranking system integrated into social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, pursuing a partnership which will make pro-establishment media consumption a part of your experience at those sites regardless of whether or not you download a NewsGuard app or plugin.

5. NewsGuard markets itself to state governments in order to get its plugin installed in all of that state’s public schools and libraries to keep internet users from consuming unauthorized narratives. It has already succeeded in accomplishing this in the state of Hawaii, with all of its library branches now running the NewsGuard plugin.

Really excited to see NewsGuard now built into the latest beta of Edge on iOS 👍👍. Smart service. There's also an extension for Edge on Windows 10.

 — @Daniel_Rubino

We may be absolutely certain that NewsGuard will continue giving a positive, trustworthy ranking to the New York Times no matter how many spectacular flubs it makes in its coverage of the establishment Russia narrative, because the agenda to popularize anti-Russia narratives lines up perfectly with the neoconservative, government agency-serving agendas of the powers behind NewsGuard. Any attempt to advance the hegemony of the US-centralized power establishment will be rewarded by its lackeys, and any skepticism of it will be punished.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Ruling power’s desire to regulate people’s access to information is so desperate that it has become as clumsy and ham-fisted as a teenager pawing at his date in the back seat of a car, and it feels about as enjoyable. They’re barely even concealing their desire to control our minds anymore, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to wake everyone up to their manipulations. We need to use every inch of our ability to communicate with each other before it gets shut down for good.
4   jazz_music   ignore (6)   2019 Mar 13, 6:09pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

All GOP pandering to evangelists and gun-nuts is camouflage for their reason for existence: to enrich the rich donor class.

It's good you already hate liberals because you are not going to mind handing everything valuable to shareholders and who knows, maybe you will do a mass shooting of gays or a WalMart when you finally lose everything. (because you'll still want to suck up to the wealthy like a good robot)

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