Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times

  
Via:  john-russell  •  one month ago  •  12 comments

Trump, QAnon and an impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times
One such show is “Edge of Wonder,” a verified YouTube channel that releases new NTD-produced videos twice every week and now has more than 33 million views. In addition to claims that alien abductions are real and the drug epidemic was engineered by the “deep state,” the channel pushes the QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely posits that the same “Spygate” cabal is a front for a global pedophile ring being taken down by Trump.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



KEY POINTS




  • The Epoch Times has spent more than $1.5 million on pro-Trump Facebook ads in the last six months, more than than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself. 

  • The publication’s recent ad strategy, coupled with a broader campaign to embrace social media and conservative U.S. politics — Trump in particular — has doubled The Epoch Times’ revenue and pushed it to greater prominence in the broader conservative media world.

  • The Epoch Times has increasingly become a favorite of the Trump family and a key component of the president’s re-election campaign.




By the numbers, there is no bigger advocate of President Donald Trump on  Facebook  than The Epoch Times.

The small New York-based nonprofit news outlet has spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months, according to data from Facebook’s advertising archive — more than any organization outside of the Trump campaign itself, and more than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns.




Those video ads — in which unidentified spokespeople thumb through a newspaper to praise Trump, peddle conspiracy theories about the “Deep State,” and criticize “fake news” media — strike a familiar tone in the online conservative news ecosystem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years.

But it isn’t.

Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government.



It’s that motivation that helped drive the organization toward Trump, according to interviews with former Epoch Times staffers, a move that has been both lucrative and beneficial for its message.

Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said.


In part because of that unusual background, The Epoch Times has had trouble finding a foothold in the  broader conservative movement .

“It seems like an interloper — not well integrated socially within the movement network, and not terribly well-circulating among right-wingers,” said A.J. Bauer, a visiting professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, who is part of an ongoing study in which he and his colleagues interview  conservative  journalists.

“Even when discussing more fringe-y sites, conservative journalists tend to reference Gateway Pundit or Infowars,” Bauer said. “The Epoch Times doesn’t tend to come up.”

That seems to be changing.

Before 2016, The Epoch Times generally stayed out of U.S. politics, unless they dovetailed with Chinese interests. The publication’s recent ad strategy, coupled with a broader campaign to embrace social media and conservative U.S. politics — Trump in particular — has doubled The Epoch Times’ revenue, according to the organization’s tax filings, and pushed it to greater prominence in the broader conservative media world.

Started almost two decades ago as a free newspaper and website with a stated mission to “provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet.






The content



The Epoch Times, digital production company NTD and the heavily advertised dance troupe Shen Yun make up the nonprofit network that  Li calls  “our media.” Financial documents paint a complicated picture of more than a dozen technically separate organizations that appear to share missions, money and executives. Though the source of their revenue is unclear, the most recent financial records from each organization paint a picture of an overall business thriving in the Trump era.

The Epoch Times brought in $8.1 million in revenue in 2017 — double what it had the previous year — and reported spending $7.2 million on “printing newspaper and creating web and media programs.” Most of its revenue comes from advertising and “web and media income,” according to the group’s annual tax filings, while individual donations and subscriptions to the paper make up less than 10 percent of its revenue.

New Tang Dynasty’s 2017 revenue,  according to IRS records , was $18 million, a 150 percent increase over the year before. It spent $16.2 million.

That exponential growth came around the same time The Epoch Times expanded its online presence and increased its ad spending, honing its message on two basic themes: enthusiastic support for Trump’s agenda, and the exposure of what the publication claims is a labyrinthian, global conspiracy led by Clinton and former President Barack Obama to tear down Trump. One such conspiracy theory, loosely called “Spygate,” has become a common talking point for Fox News host Sean Hannity and conservative news websites like Breitbart.

The paper’s “Spygate Special Coverage” section, which frequently sits atop its website, theorizes about a grand, yearslong plot in which former Obama and Clinton staffers, a handful of magazines and newspapers, private investigators and government bureaucrats plan to take down the Trump presidency.

In his published response, publisher Gregory said the media outlet’s ads “have no political agenda.”

While The Epoch Times usually straddles the line between an ultraconservative news outlet and a conspiracy warehouse, some popular online shows created by Epoch Times employees and produced by NTD cross the line completely, and spread far and wide.









One such show is “Edge of Wonder,” a verified YouTube channel that releases new NTD-produced videos twice every week and now has more than 33 million views. In addition to claims that alien abductions are real and the drug epidemic was engineered by the “deep state,” the channel pushes the QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely posits that the same “Spygate” cabal is a front for a global pedophile ring being taken down by Trump.

One QAnon video, titled ”#QANON - 7 facts the MEDIA (MSM) Won’t Admit” has almost 1 million views on YouTube. Other videos in the channel’s QAnon playlist, which include videos about 9/11 conspiracy theories and one titled “13 BLOODLINES & their Diabolical End Game,” gained hundreds of thousands of views each.

Travis View, a researcher and podcaster who studies the QAnon movement, said The Epoch Times has sanitized the conspiracy theory by pushing Spygate, which drops the wildest and more prurient details of QAnon while retaining its conspiratorial elements.

“QAnon is highly stigmatized among people trying to push the Spygate message. They know how toxic QAnon is,” View said. “Spygate leaves out the spiritual elements, the child sex trafficking, but it’s certainly integral to the QAnon narrative.”

Gregory denied any connection with “Edge of Wonder,” writing in a statement that his organization was “aware of the entertainment show,” but “is in no way connected with it.”

But The Epoch Times has itself published several  credulous reports on QAnon and for years, the webseries hosts Rob Counts and Benjamin Chasteen were employed as the company’s creative director and chief photo editor, respectively. In August 2018, six months after the creation of “Edge of Wonder,” Counts  tweeted  that he still worked for Epoch Times. Counts and Chasteen did not respond to an email seeking clarification on their roles.

Meanwhile The Epoch Times has promoted “Edge of Wonder” content in dozens of Facebook posts,  still visible on its official Facebook page . That page is currently topped with a pinned ad for its Trump coverage that reads, “Where can you get real news that doesn’t push any hidden agendas?”

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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    one month ago

Why are nutty ass conspiracies attracted to Trump, and vice versa ? 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  seeder  JohnRussell    one month ago
Former practitioners of Falun Gong told NBC News that believers think the world is headed toward a judgment day, where those labeled “communists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sympathetic to the spiritual community will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, former Epoch Times employees said
 
 
 
katrix
2.1  katrix  replied to  JohnRussell @2    one month ago

That's a weird group. I do realize they're persecuted by the Chinese government - apparently they were jailed and used as forced organ donors in thousands of cases. Which, of course, generally ended with their deaths. And I can see why they hate communism.

But they're a bunch of nut jobs.

They think atheism is evil, so I don't know why they would be pro-Trump - who is clearly neither religious nor spiritual.

That page is currently topped with a pinned ad for its Trump coverage that reads, “Where can you get real news that doesn’t push any hidden agendas?”

Sounds like a perfect ad for a pro-Trump site. It works for many idiots who believe that Fox is "fair and unbalanced" - Trump's base isn't known for its intelligence.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  katrix @2.1    one month ago

We have a president that is enthusiastically supported by fringe conspiracy groups and other weirdos, and he is a full fledged conspiracy nut himself.

What the hell is happening to our country? 

 
 
 
CB
2.1.2  CB   replied to  katrix @2.1    one month ago

Hi Katrix! So here's the deal: A year out from the election of 2020, we have another set of Chinese outsiders spending heavily to interfere in our national elections for president. I wish to know where largely atheists come down on this; and, are critical thinkers "down" with seeing that what happened to Hillary in the news, online, and in 'all parts' in 2016 don't happen to the democrat presidential candidate specifically this cycle around.

What is your position on this article and Chinese AstroTurfing, please?

 
 
 
bbl-1
2.1.3  bbl-1  replied to  CB @2.1.2    one month ago

Atheist and religion have nothing to do with any of this. 

The purveyors of fear and division backed by the even more afraid controllers of wealth are moving to cement their security and power.

The oligarchy is real.

 
 
 
CB
2.1.4  CB   replied to  bbl-1 @2.1.3    one month ago

Hi bbl-1! We are going to need to utilize 'concerted' help. All 'hands' on-board! Trump is getting international help through omission.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  JohnRussell @2    one month ago
How did a publication founded on a spiritual movement the Chinese government has labeled a “cult” gain enough traction to be scoring interviews with influential Republican lawmakers and bringing in millions of revenue each year?

NBC News  did a deep dive into  The Epoch Times  to find out.

The New York-based nonprofit news outlet was founded in 2000 with the stated goal of to “provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society.”  What follows are the four biggest takeaways from the over 3,000-word piece:

1. The Epoch Times believe President Donald Trump was heaven-sent to defeat communism.

The publication spends more money on pro-Trump ads on Facebook than any other — it’s spent over $1.5 million on 11,000 Trump advertisements in the last six months alone. “More than most Democratic presidential candidates have spent on their own campaigns,” according to NBC.

Ben Hurley , an Australian former Falun Gong practitioner who wrote for the paper from 2005-2013, said that the paper’s target audience of Falun gong followers “believe that Trump was sent by heaven to destroy the Communist Party.”

Members of the Trump family have frequently posted  The Epoch Times  content, and some have sat been interviewed by the paper.

According to former  The Epoch Times  employees, Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-communist fight, which leads back to the paper’s close associations with spiritual community Falun Gong.

2. Falun Gong is a community dedicated to the takedown of China’s government, which explains why  The Epoch Times  is blocked in mainland China.

Believers think the world is headed towards “judgment day” when those they label “communists” will be damned to hell.

Hurley said that practitioners saw communism everywhere: “former Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton , movie star  Jackie Chan,  and former United Nations Secretary General  Kofi Annan  were all considered to have sold themselves out to the Chinese government.”

The NBC report describes Falun Gong as, “a relatively new spiritual practice that combines ancient Chinese meditative exercises, mysticism, and often ultraconservative cultural world views.” Falun Gong’s founder referred to Epoch Media as “our media” and former employees confirmed that its practice heavily influences coverage.

In China there has been a crackdown on Falun Gong as well, with authorities outlawing the practice, arresting and even torturing those who refuse to give it up.

3. It’s only in recent days that  The Epoch Times  has wielded such influence; it had struggled to stand out among other fringe conservative sites.

And up until 2016, it mostly stuck to Chinese politics. But a new aggressive ad strategy combined with an embrace of conservative US politics has doubled its revenue. In April, videos from the Epoch Media Group had around 3 billion views on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.

Also in 2016,  The Epoch Times  heeded a call from Li to run more like a typical news organization. They placed job ads on Indeed.com and hired seven reporters not associated with Falun Gong. These new reporters were told “their content was to be critical of communist China, clear-eyed about the threat of Islamic terrorism, focused on illegal immigration and at all times rooted in ‘traditional’ values, they said. This meant no content about drugs, gay people or popular music.”

The Epoch Times  brought in $8.1 million in revenue in 2017, which was double what it had the previous year. New Tang Dynasty (NTD), a video outlet under Epoch Media Group, brought in $18 million that year.

4.  The founder of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi, enforces some pretty radical (cult-like?) views.

Among other mainstream conventions Falun Gong detests are homosexuality, feminism, and popular music. Former reporter  Steve Klett  recalled extensively covering the Pulse shooting (which reenforced the publication’s fear of radical Islam) all without using the word “gay.”

All the while, Li asserts he is a god-like figure who can levitate and walk through walls. He taught that sickness is a symptom of evil and can be cured through meditation, that aliens from undiscovered dimensions have overtaken the minds and bodies of humans, bringing corruptions such as computers and airplanes.

5.  The Epoch Times  is key in peddling the internet’s fringier conspiracy theories, such as anti-vaccination propaganda and QAnon.

NTD puts out videos twice-weekly that get upwards of 33 million views. The videos assert claims such as alien abductions are real and the drug epidemic was engineered by the “deep state.” It peddles QAnon and a theory that Trump is taking down a global pedophile ring.

It’s been key in promoting “Spygate” the theory often referred to on Breitbart and by Fox News’  Sean Hannity  that Obama implanted spies in the 2016 presidential election to thwart Trump’s victory.

In sum, The Epoch Times embarked on exponential growth when it expanded its online social media presence, increased ad spending, and honed its message on two themes: “enthusiastic support for Trump’s agenda, and the exposure of what the publication claims is a labyrinthian, global conspiracy led by Clinton and former President  Barack Obama  to tear down Trump.”

https://www.mediaite.com/news/5-craziest-revelations-from-nbcs-expose-of-the-pro-trump-paper-funded-by-falun-gong/

 
 
 
CB
2.2.1  CB   replied to  JohnRussell @2.2    one month ago

Like the Internet Research Agency of Russia:

IRA Background

The IRA began its operations in mid-2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Run like a sophisticated marketing agency in a centralized office environment, the IRA employed and trained over a thousand people to engage in round-the-clock influence operations, first targeting Ukrainian and Russian citizens, and then, well before the 2016 US election, Americans.

The scale of their operation was unprecedented they reached 126 million people on Facebook, at least 20 million users on Instagram, 1.4 million users on Twitter, and uploaded over 1,000 videos to YouTube.

As Department of Justice indictments have recently revealed, this manipulation of American political discourse had a budget that exceeded $25 million USD and continued well into 2018. IRA documents indicate the 2017 operational budget alone was $12.2 million US dollars. Independent researchers and social platforms were aware of the IRA as early as 2015, and its activities on Facebook are well-documented and discussed in detail in Adrian Chen’s “The Agency”. Subsequent glimpses into the operational structure and strategy of the IRA can be found in the February 2018 indictment of 13 Russian nationals by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the September 28, 2018 criminal complaint of United States of America v. Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova.

The September 2018 indictment reveals that “[t]he Conspiracy has sought to conduct what it called internally ‘ information warfare against the United States of America.’” (p.6 of DOJ Khusyaynova Complaint). The data provided to SSCI clearly illustrates that for approximately five years, Russia has waged a propaganda war against American citizens, manipulating social media narratives to influence American culture and politics. We hope that this analysis of the IRA information warfare arsenal – particularly the discussion of the influence operation tactics – helps policymakers and American citizens alike to understand the sophistication of the adversary, and to be aware of the ongoing threat to American democracy

SOURCE : https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4326998/ira-report-rebrand_FinalJ14.pdf  page 6

Foreign Chinese groups are making inroads into American consciousness where we 'live' inside our heads!

STAY WOKE. WAKE PEOPLE. TELL THEM TO WAKE SOMEBODY ELSE.

Shout it from your local 'moutaintops'!

"Trump Is Rigging The 2020 Election [Again] with INTERNATIONAL TEAMS!"

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
3  igknorantzrulz    one month ago

Y M I not surprised...

 
 
 
CB
4  CB     one month ago

I am exceedingly thrilled you posted this story! I will be on it. Back soon!

 
 
 
bbl-1
5  bbl-1    one month ago

The spirit of Goebbels still lives.

 
 
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