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3/20: Lee Siu Hin -- The Epoch Times, Trump's Favorite Cult Propaganda Machine Supporting the White House, and How U.S. Anti-COVID Efforts Have Been Derailed (Part Two)
The Epoch Times, Trump’s Favorite Cult Propaganda Machine Supporting the White House, and How U.S. Anti-COVID Efforts Have Been Derailed
by Lee Siu Hin
March 20, 2021
(Part Two of the Two Part Series)
Trump’s Own Favorite Joseph Goebbels
Trump loves anyone who makes him look good. When The Epoch Times unites with the U.S. right-wing forces to make him look like a superstar, he really loves them – that’s the reason the fringe cult publication became the favorite media of the Trump White House.
In August 2020 the representatives of the Gateway Pundit and The Epoch Times, a website and a far right publication with long records of supporting President Trump, were admitted to the White House briefing room. Trump called on both of them to ask questions during his televised news conferences. In effect, the White House appears to have violated its own agreement not to bring in representatives of organizations seen as sympathetic to the president, according to The Washington Post.
The Epoch Times, with tens of millions of social media followers spread across dozens of pages and an online audience that rivals other major far-right media such as The Daily Caller and Breitbart News, had been praised by Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist and a former chairman of Breitbart. In an interview in July 2020 he said that The Epoch Times’ fast growth had impressed him, according to The New York Times, predicting that “they’ll be the top conservative news site in two years.”
Fake media focused on producing fake news is the dark propaganda strategy behind Falun Gong's The Epoch Times media empire, according to the Patch investigation; on the surface, Falun Gong has always portrayed itself as an innocent victim of Chinese communist religious “persecution.” But in fact, Falun Gong has always operated a well-organized and well-managed media organization. A secret newspaper used sedentary spiritual leaders, political conspiracy theorists and loyal supporters of conspiracy theories to create today's digital media that publicly produces and distributes all kinds of false news and growing conspiracy theories daily for their anti-communist anti-China political agenda.
The Epoch Times using the same dirty tactics aiming to help the U.S. undermine China is now using these tactics to help Trump undermine his Democratic rivals.
For the past several years, the paper has intensely focused on courting Trump. In April, 2020 publisher Stephen Gregory and Fakkert co-bylined an interview with an obscure Republican running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The candidate claimed a friend of Trump’s had said “Donald Trump reads [The Epoch Times] every day and it’s the one newspaper that he believes to be a truthful and correct paper. … It’s the only one he trusts,” according to the BuzzFeed investigation.
The Epoch Times’ numerous Edge of Wonder videos push QAnon conspiracy theories and Trump’s meaningless anti-science nonsense in the effort to control the minds at the heart of the far-right conservatives.
Since Trump took office, The Epoch Times has enjoyed exclusive relations with the President; in one such incident, on September 12, 2018, the photographer Samira Bouaou, passed a purple-colored folder to Trump as he was walking out of the East Room for an official function. Trump accepted the folder and appeared to open it briefly as he departed before quickly shutting it, witnesses said. It was not clear what was inside the folder. According to The Washington Post, this showed that The Epoch Times had already openly acted as Trump’s personal secretary and media advisor.
It's no accident that The Epoch Times exponential growth came around the same time as it 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 labyrinthine 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 much-hyped “Spygate” special coverage section, which frequently appears at the top of its website, theorizes about a grand plot from several years ago in which former Obama and Clinton staffers, a handful of magazines and newspapers, private investigators and government bureaucrats planned to take down the Trump presidency, according to NBC News.
The Epoch Times spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the first six months of 2019, 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 online campaigns, according to Snopes.com.
Many of these are fake accounts pretending to be a certain group of people who are supporting Trump. Last summer, according to NBC News, Facebook removed fake The Epoch Times accounts posing as African-American Trump supporters. Hundreds of these fake accounts pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories about COVID, misinformation about the virus, and protests in the U.S. This included 303 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 Facebook groups, and 31 Instagram accounts with more than 2 million followers across both services. The accounts were tied to their digital media outlet TruthMedia, another The Epoch Times media front.
All these fake Facebook accounts, publications and YouTube shows linked to The Epoch Times have promoted the QAnon conspiracy theories, spread distorted claims about voter fraud and the Black Lives Matter movement, and promoted Trump's policies and as well as helped his reelection campaign.
Their signature-style carpet-bombing propaganda campaigns took place all around the country last year during the 2020 election year; across the U.S., many residents received unsolicited copies of The Epoch Times on their door steps or in their mail boxes thanks to a mysterious mass-delivery campaign. The paper was full of clear pro-Trump messages and QAnon conspiracy theories clearly targeting the voters.
In Los Angeles, CA they had been targeting wealthy white neighborhoods; in Brooklyn, NY, distribution targeted certain neighborhoods, including those that are traditionally Black. A.J. Bauer, a visiting professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, said “This would fit within a broader GOP strategy to cut into Biden’s presumably high margins of support within the Black community.”
Since Trump lost the election, the pro-Trump propaganda of The Epoch Times has become increasingly more violent as they continued to give their die-hard support for him, endlessly spreading his false “illegitimate” election claims. They organized “Stop the Steal” protests in Taiwan that drew 8,000 people supporting Trump.
They produced a 93-minute video making false claims about the 2020 election, suggesting that there was widespread fraud and that an election technology firm and China were behind it. The video, featuring The Epoch Times “reporter” Joshua Philipp, alleges that the Chinese Communist Party wanted Biden to be in power and is extending its tentacles into many facets of American society in an effort to spread communism. The video on YouTube, The Epoch Times website, and NTD have received hundreds of thousands of views and more than 53,000 Facebook shares within two weeks, according to the Associated Press.
In the days, weeks, and months that preceded the ransacking of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, the right-wing conspiracy theory rag The Epoch Times and its sister network New Tang Dynasty (NTD) flooded their audience with deranged conspiracy theories designed to undermine faith in the presidential election results.
To that end, the network enthusiastically and credulously parroted false claims of voter fraud that emanated from the far right, including hundreds of posts about Dominion Voting Systems, an election systems company that pro-Trump media falsely accused of rigging the election for President Joe Biden as part of a global conspiracy originating from Venezuela, according to Media Matters investigation.
They sponsored the ultra-conservative CPAC 2021 conference in February, where former president Trump was speaking, signaling he might be running again in 2024. Clearly, The Epoch Times will continue to pump up their mega-resources to support Trump, in the hopes that he will return to the White House in four years with generous political and economic rewards to come their way.
False COVID-19 Claims that Killed People
The Epoch Times ridiculous anti-mask, anti-lockdown and racist “CCP Virus” COVID-19 QAnon misinformation propaganda is designed to brainwash their far-right base to support Trump’s policy. It has deeply affected U.S. anti-pandemic efforts, resulting in an out-of-control spike partly responsible for additional hundreds even millions of people infected and additional tens of thousands of people killed.
During the spring and summer of 2020 The Epoch Times ran a massive propaganda campaign from their newspaper and online channels calling it the “CCP virus,” an echo of Trump’s favorite “China virus” line. It also pushed the conspiracy theory that countries most affected by COVID-19 have been those most infiltrated by Beijing, theorizing that the initial outbreak in Washington state last spring could be traced back to Seattle opening its doors to Chinese communists over 40 years ago.
According to a Brussels Times investigation in April 2020, The Epoch Times engaged in a campaign of unsolicited mail distribution in areas of the United States, Canada, and Australia. In The Epoch Times the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known as the “CCP virus,” and a commentary in the newspaper posed the question, “Is the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan an accident occasioned by weaponizing the virus?” The Epoch Time’s editorial board also claimed that COVID-19 patients can potentially be cured by “condemning the Chinese Communist Party.”
On April 7, 2020, The Epoch Times senior “investigative reporter” Joshua Philipp hosted a 54-minute documentary “Tracking Down the Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus,” hawked as the “first documentary movie on CCP virus.” The film repeated their vicious and baseless theory about the “Wuhan Chinese-lab made virus” which has been the center piece of Trump's anti-China propaganda. The YouTube video has racked up 4.5 million views at their NTD channel and was the first major entrant in the coronavirus-truther genre that took off last spring.
Instead of science, they create and spread the unfounded theory that the coronavirus – which the film calls the “CCP Virus,” in an attempt to link it to the Chinese Communist Party – was created as a bioweapon in a Chinese military lab in Wuhan, from which it was accidentally (or intentionally) leaked to the public ultimately affecting the entire world.
Their wild and racist conspiracy theory was amplified by right-wing Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark), The Washington Times and The Washington Post, and later picked up by Trump and right-wing Republicans as their core racist rhetoric blaming China for the failure of their own COVID response in the U.S.
From the beginning, The Epoch Times had devoted entire news sections to their sick campaign linking the virus to the racist anti-China campaign. On their so-called “CCP VIRUS” page, there were headlines such as: “Pandemic May Have Been Caused by Bioweapon Research Accident in China: Former State Department Investigator,”
“Florida Gov. DeSantis Cancels All CCP Virus Fines Issued by Local Officials,”
“Another CCP Virus Surge Predicted, Says England’s Chief Medical Officer,” and so on.
The Epoch Times also clearly stands against vaccination, carrying news articles spreading NoVax false claims from Del Bigtree, founder of the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN): “Nonprofit to File Lawsuit Against CDC Over Statement That Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.”
Ironically, The Epoch Times also makes sure to credit Trump for his vaccine effort in a news report such as: “Trump Says He Hopes Americans ‘Remember’ Him When They Get Vaccines.”
In addition to their racist anti-China rhetoric, The Epoch Times has spread numerous false COVID claims that have been favorite talking points for the anti-lockdown/anti-mask right-wingers.
It is a firm supporter of the anti-mask movements with false claims. On their “MASKS” page, they devoted an entire section of the website for anti-mask news, with headlines such as: “North Dakota House Passes Bill Prohibiting Mandatory Masks,” “Florida’s DeSantis Criticizes Media Over Coverage of Super Bowl Ralliers Not Wearing Masks,” “New Analysis Finds Mask Mandates Not Stopping CCP Virus Surge,” and so on.
The far-right doesn’t like U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Anthony Fauci. The Epoch Times has the “ANTHONY FAUCI” page, while there is some accurate and scientific COVID coverage, many reports have been conspiracy theories against his anti-virus efforts or reports that twist/misquote his words. For example headlines such as: “Fauci: CCP Virus Vaccine Rollout Must Account for Racial Disparities,” “UK to Begin ‘Historic’ Vaccine Roll-Out Against CCP Virus This Week,” “Dr. Fauci and the Perils of Deep State Medicine,” and so on.
Their “LOCKDOWN” page is full of false anti-lockdown coverage, such as: “CCP Virus Lockdown Interferes With Fundamental Human Rights: UK Conservative,” “Hundreds Protest Over Arrest of Pastor Who Defied COVID-19 Lockdown Orders,” “Thousands Protest Against Lockdown Measures in Vienna,” “Hungarians Protest Against Lockdown Despite Gathering Ban,” and so on.
In the eyes of The Epoch Times pro-Trump is also anti-China; existing side-by-side is the “CCP Virus” and the wild “Stolen Election” in conspiracy fantasy land.
Their anti-China campaign “CCP virus” excited the far-right racist sector of the society, blaming the U.S. COVID response failure on China and on the Chinese-American community. The result has been an explosive increase of anti-Chinese/anti-Asian American violence and hate crimes across the country.
Which Part of Sick Racist Fascist Don’t You Understand?
The Epoch Times’ embrace of Mr. Trump has made them a far-right media giant; but it has also created a global-scale misinformation machine that has repeatedly pushed fringe narratives into mainstream local politics, according to The New York Times.
Their forging a tie with European nationalists fueled the far-right movements in Europe, according to The New Republic magazine. For example: Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right party that would go on to shock the world by winning seats in parliament on an anti-immigrant and anti-Islam message, has been supported by the Berlin offices of The Epoch Times.
It’s a clear sign of the danger that they could become a global, far-right media powerhouse for launching color revolution-style propaganda campaigns against other countries to undermine their governments in the interest of U.S. imperialism – the 21st century far right-vision of the Open Society Foundation.
While U.S. corporate media has accurately described The Epoch Times is a sick and wildly fringe propaganda machine with its calling for violence against American Democracy, they intentionally fail to mention that it is the cold war-CIA color revolution-type covert PsyOp against China, created by the U.S. for organizing vicious disinformation campaigns to foment violent social destabilization. They are also considered religious freedom activists, “Well, they could be crazy, but they’re fighting against a Chinese communist regime, so they must be good.”
As long as someone is fighting communism, they are considered “a good person” in the eyes of U.S. imperialism.
Twenty years ago they were spreading massive false propaganda claiming brutal repression by the Chinese government; it has been baseless reports of “organ harvesting” in the years since. Today they’re playing an active role in Qanon and far-right pro-Trump, anti-Democratic and anti-science COVID fake news that devastated the country; they’re just playing a dark and hateful propaganda war, a cult of hate.
Their sick “CCP Virus” propaganda has resulted in a dramatic rise in anti-Asian American hate and violence since January 2020. Between March 2020 and February 2021 the Asian-American civil-rights group Stop AAPI Hate has documented at least 3,795 racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans.
On March 16, 2021, eight people, including six Asian women, were shot to death at massage parlors in the Atlanta area, clearly a hate crime since the gunman Robert Aaron Long had posted a blog just before the shooting blaming China for creating the COVID virus and calling all American “TO STAND AGAINST CHINA, THE GREATEST EVIL OF OUR TIME.”
However, the Atlanta police spokesperson Captain Jay Baker immediately white washed the attacks, he said at the press conference the killer “did not appear to be” motivated by race, that he had a mental problem of “sexual addiction” and wanted to get rid of the temptation that the establishments represented. His remarks quickly outraged the community, and online activists found Captain Baker had recently posted images on Facebook of t-shirts with a racist slogan about China (called “CHY-NA”) and COVID (Atlanta PD immediately removed him from his post).
These types of hate propaganda are the products of groups like The Epoch Times.
The Epoch Times is not the only such force in the U.S. There are many similar groups organizing across the country and around the world funded by U.S. taxpayers.
In Russia, the western-backed Russian “opposition” leader Alexey Navalny, the known Fascist who has 6.52 million YouTube subscribers, has used online tools to create his status as a cult figure opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government. He is a key prop in a psychological warfare operation by western countries designed to create social chaos to bring down Putin, according to an investigation by CovertAction Magazine.
Just like armed Al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, when they are up against the “enemy” of the western states, Soviet Union or Syria, they are the “freedom fighters.” But when they turned their guns against the western world, they immediately become the terrorists.
When The Epoch Times chose to ally itself with domestic far-right forces, using the same sick propaganda and media deception campaigns to undermine American democracy and support Trump against the Democrats in the election, the liberals and the corporate media made an about face, turning their guns against the one time “religious freedom fighters” The Epoch Times, and now calling them “fake news propagandists.”
The Epoch Times’ success is not an accident, it’s a well calculated U.S.-funded psychotic Fascist-type anti-communist/anti-China propaganda machine, designed to create an unhinged China-hating misinformation machine regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House. Created during Clinton’s era, growing stronger during Obama’s time, it became successful and famous when President Trump used it against the U.S.
In fact, the sick and racist anti-China propaganda news appearing in The New York Times/The Washington Post and The Epoch Times is almost no different, only that two among them can claim to be “mainstream” while calling the other “a cult.”
The U.S. has created a monster; when things goes awry, the U.S. will taste its own bitter medicine.
About Lee Siu Hin
Lee Siu Hin, a Chinese-American immigrant activist from Los Angeles CA, is the founder and national coordinator of China-U.S. Solidarity Network (CUSN), National Immigrant Solidarity Network (NISN), a long-time community, labor, antiwar and immigrant rights activists for grassroots struggle. He's also a long-time Pacifica Radio KPFK Los Angeles unpaid reporter and producer, war correspondent went to middle-east, Europe, and Africa.
NISN, a grassroots-based national grassroots immigrant activist network; and CUSN, a network of academia and community activists in both countries committed to build a China-U.S. grassroots activist dialogue.
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