A Bad Week for Backers of the Big Lie


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  hallux  •  one month ago  •  12 comments

By:   Charles Sykes - The Atlantic

A Bad Week for Backers of the Big Lie

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

This week, two influential spreaders of Donald Trump’s Big Lie faced trouble. These aren’t the first glitches in the conspiracy-theory universe.

A Notable Climbdown

It’s been a very bad week for two of the most prominent purveyors of Donald Trump’s webs of lies about the 2020 presidential election. Last Friday, Salem Media Group   announced   that it had removed the fabulist film   2,000 Mules   from its platform and said it would no longer distribute either the movie or an accompanying book by the right-wing activist and   Trump-pardoned felon   Dinesh D’Souza. It also issued an apology to Mark Andrews, a Georgia man whom the film had falsely depicted participating in a conspiracy to rig the 2020 election by using so-called mules to stuff ballot drop boxes. After being cleared of any wrongdoing by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Andrews filed a defamation lawsuit in 2022 against D’Souza, Salem, and two individuals associated with a group whose analysis heavily influenced the film.

While perhaps not as dramatic as Fox News’s $787 million   settlement   last year with Dominion Voting Systems for lying about the election, Salem’s climbdown is worth paying attention to. Salem is one of the most influential right-wing media companies in the United States, and in many ways,   2,000 Mules   was the movie version of Trump’s election lies. The film was utterly bogus—a mixture of conjecture and falsehoods that were easily discredited   by fact-checkers . But it played a major role in shaping Republican skepticism about the election.

Trump himself embraced  2,000 Mules calling it  “the greatest and most impactful documentary of our time.” When the movie debuted, Trump  hosted  a screening at Mar-a-Lago featuring such MAGA stars as Rudy Giuliani, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, and  the MyPillow guy , Mike Lindell. The film became a frequent talking point for Trump allies who alleged that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen. And it found some level of mainstream appeal: Salem announced that  more than 1 million people  watched the movie in the first two weeks after it was released in May 2022, grossing more than $10 million. Now the producer’s public apology has made clear that the film was based on misleading data and false claims.

The second recent development involved  The Epoch Times , a media outlet founded in 2000 by an Atlanta-based practitioner of the Chinese Falun Gong movement. You can be forgiven if you are only dimly aware of the publication, which is distributed free to households around the world (including mine). But like Salem Media, it plays an important role in the media ecosystem that boosts Trump and spreads conspiracy theories, including disinformation about the 2020 election.

In 2019,   NBC reported   that   The Epoch Times   had spent more money on pro-Trump Facebook advertisements than any group other than the Trump campaign itself. The publication also became a vector of disinformation, the NBC investigation found; its news sites and YouTube channels were used to popularize conspiracy theories including QAnon and anti-vaccination propaganda.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Simon van Zuylen-Wood   reported   in   The Atlantic   in 2021,   The Epoch Times   “used every opportunity to call Biden’s victory into doubt” and “eagerly publicized” Trump’s remarks preceding the January 6 insurrection. And all that time, the paper continued to grow. By 2023,   The Epoch Times   claimed that it had the fourth-largest subscriber base of any newspaper in the country—and it had apparently   boosted its revenue   by 685 percent from 2019 to 2021.

It sounded too good to be true, maybe because it was. Earlier this week, Weidong “Bill” Guan, the chief financial officer of the company, was arrested and charged with involvement in a multiyear, $67 million  money-laundering scheme . Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York charged that a team at  The Epoch Times  called “Make Money Online” used cryptocurrency to “knowingly purchase tens of millions of dollars in crime proceeds.” That allegedly included taking fraudulently obtained unemployment-insurance benefits and loading the money onto prepaid debit cards. Guan has pleaded not guilty, but has been suspended by  The Epoch Times , which says that it is cooperating with the investigation.

The setbacks for Salem and   The Epoch Times   are just the latest glitches in the alternative-reality universe. Fox News still   faces   a lawsuit from Smartmatic over the network’s election lies; Rudy Giuliani was hit last year with a massive judgment for his lies about the Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, and his radio show was   canceled by WABC ; the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are asking a bankruptcy court to   liquidate   the right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones’s media platform, Free Speech Systems, after winning $1.5 billion in damages for defamation; and Trump himself is facing an $83 million judgment for defaming E. Jean Carroll—whom he was found liable for sexually assaulting.

Far-right (and far-left) digital-media outlets are also seeing a massive decline in readership compared with 2020, as Paul Farhi   noted   in   The Atlantic   in April. But even if some of the largest MAGA-world platforms collapse, Farhi wrote, “there are now alternatives to the alternatives.” Since 2016, “the marketplace has expanded and fragmented … splintering the audience seeking conservative or even extremist perspectives among podcasts, YouTube videos, Substack newsletters, and boutique platforms.” Misinformation—and its   wide, eager audience —is not going anywhere. It remains up to Americans to distinguish between truth and lies, and to decide whether to hold Trump to account for his own lies in November.


jrDiscussion - desc
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    one month ago

A poetic pox on the Epoch Times and their weaponized viral 'reporting'.

Freshman Quiet
1.1  Igknorantzruls  replied to  Hallux @1    one month ago

prefer Small Pox

Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    one month ago

Once the lies of the conspiracy fueled "toothpaste" get out of the tube, they cannot be put back in. There are still hard core MAGA's today who think 2000 Mules is the greatest "documentary" they have ever seen. 

Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
3  Sean Treacy    one month ago

Government intelligence officials  conspired with corporations and media to censor politically damaging information to Biden, 

And progressives think a Dinesh D’Souza video being fake is big news,

Professor Principal
3.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @3    one month ago
2000 Mules   has already grossed $10 million in revenue, and in net revenue it is the most successful documentary since   Obama’s America , produced by Dinesh D’Souza ten years ago.

“The movie is a success financially for sure, but also it is successful in its political and cultural influence,” said D’Souza. “It’s the most talked about movie out there right now, making headlines in multiple publications, and is trending extremely high on social media.”

The movie’s shocking revelations are based on research done by True The Vote, a non-profit dedicated to providing election integrity and honest voting practices. The film features five Salem radio talk show hosts as they walk through the process of learning what the evidence shows, and then discussing what this means for the American belief in free and fair elections. Those hosts, Dennis Prager, Sebastian Gorka, Charlie Kirk, Eric Metaxas and Larry Elder all came away disturbed at what they learned really happened to hand the election victory to Joe Biden.

Breitbart.com   says “Dinesh D’Souza: latest film contains ‘smoking gun’ on how ballot harvesting manipulated the 2020 Election.”

JustTheNews.com   says “Dinesh D’Souza’s   2000 Mules : Ballot trafficking exposé has the evidence; can it get a hearing?”

2000 Mules Becomes the Most Successful Political Documentary in a Decade, Seen by 1 Million | Business Wire
Junior Expert
3.1.1  George  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    one month ago

Holy crap! More people watch CNN lie about hunters laptop, orBiden’s handling of the border in a day than have seen this video.

How fucking pathetic is Biden if his supporters are running scared of a video seen by less than .5 percent of voters?

Professor Principal
3.1.2  JohnRussell  replied to  George @3.1.1    one month ago

Ever heard of social media ? 

Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.2    one month ago
ver heard of social media ? 

How many people watched Joe Biden live and on social media lie about the laptop on the debate stage?

Junior Expert
3.1.4  George  replied to  Sean Treacy @3.1.3    one month ago

It’s dementia joe so the preferred term is gaffe.

Professor Principal
4  JBB    one month ago

All the fake elector schemes are blowing up right about now!

Professor Principal
5  Kavika     one month ago

2,000 Mules AKA 2,000 horses asses.

Freshman Quiet
5.1  Igknorantzruls  replied to  Kavika @5    one month ago

there is a lot more than that 


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