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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Right-Wing Media

The Epoch Times is a right-wing newspaper affiliated with the secretive Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, Kevin Roose at NYT:

The publication and its affiliates employed a novel strategy that involved creating dozens of Facebook pages, filling them with feel-good videos and viral clickbait, and using them to sell subscriptions and drive traffic back to its partisan news coverage.

In an April 2017 email to the staff obtained by The New York Times, the paper’s leadership envisioned that the Facebook strategy could help turn The Epoch Times into “the world’s largest and most authoritative media.” It could also introduce millions of people to the teachings of Falun Gong, fulfilling the group’s mission of “saving sentient beings.”

Today, The Epoch Times and its affiliates are a force in right-wing media, with tens of millions of social media followers spread across dozens of pages and an online audience that rivals those of The Daily Caller and Breitbart News, and with a similar willingness to feed the online fever swamps of the far right.


 It is a remarkable success story for Falun Gong, which has long struggled to establish its bona fides against Beijing’s efforts to demonize it as an “evil cult,” partly because its strident accounts of persecution in China can sometimes be difficult to substantiate or veer into exaggeration. In 2006, an Epoch Times reporter disrupted a White House visit by the Chinese president by shouting, “Evil people will die early.”

Stephen K. Bannon... former chairman of Breitbart, said in an interview in July that The Epoch Times’s fast growth had impressed him.

“They’ll be the top conservative news site in two years,” said Mr. Bannon, who was arrested on fraud charges in August. “They punch way above their weight, they have the readers, and they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast:

It seems Newsmax TV—the decade-old, also-ran, right-wing cable channel hoping to compete with Fox News—may have finally found a way to boost its dismal ratings.

In recent months, Newsmax chief Chris Ruddy has gone on a hiring spree, snapping up a bevy of former Fox News personalities ... and right-wing media hangers-on to reshape and fill out the channel’s lineup. Furthermore, the network has made it a point to embrace disgraced TV hosts or heretofore unemployable pundits mired in scandal.

Benny Johnson, a serial plagiarist who abandoned his notorious career as a clickbait writer to become a “meme lord” for right-wing student group TPUSA, now hosts a Saturday program titled The Benny Report. Johnson’s most recent prior media gig was as a writer for The Daily Caller, where he landed after being fired by BuzzFeed over at least 40 instances of plagiarism and then ousted from conservative news site Independent Journal Review following a series of incidents including publishing baseless conspiracies and, naturally, more plagiarism.


And then there’s Michelle Malkin. Once a right-wing media superstar and a fixture on Fox News for more than a decade before she leaned hard into supporting the “groyper” movement and white nationalists last year, she now hosts a Saturday evening show for Newsmax. The program’s title, Sovereign Nation, underscores how Malkin, always an anti-immigration hardliner, has repositioned herself as a leading voice of the xenophobic fever swamp. (She was fired from the Young America’s Foundation in Nov. 2019 over her support for Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic internet personality Nick Fuentes.)