Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Some outlets pay a price after spreading 2020 election misinformation

By 37ci3 Jun8,2024

He became the purveyor of the right-wing media Donald Trump has ramped up misinformation and false claims as he sways the 2020 election results are on the losing side of legal problems or face new ones.

In just a few months, several high-profile media operations have suffered courtroom losses.

The Gateway Pundit, an influential far-right news site, filed for bankruptcy He said that a lawsuit was filed against the company in April suggested election workers were cheating during the previous presidential elections. In the same month, the voting machine company Smartmatic has reached a confidential settlement in the defamation suit v. One America News Network, which allowed bogus election fraud allegations on the air, its There is a pending defamation lawsuit against Newsmax based on similar vote-rigging allegations as well as Fox News is seeking $2.7 billion in damages. Both Newsmax and Fox News deny Smartmatic’s claims.

Fox News paid another company, Dominion Voting Systems, $787.5 million last year settle a defamation claim. The network has not accepted any specific claims.

Right-wing political commentator Dinesh D’Souza’s book and film “2000 Mules” in May drawn by the publisherSalem Media Group and the company issued a public apology to a man in Georgia sued the author and publisher on defamation claims after being accused of throwing ballots. That work is still ongoing.

There were other conservative media outlets In the 2020 election, he promoted right-wing disinformation they face financial difficulties unrelated to those events. Conspiracy theorist and Infowars host this week Alex Jones agreed to sell his assets satisfy $1.5 billion in defamation lawsuits is related to 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School genocide. Jones previously warned that the company could be shut down.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors allege that a CEO of The Epoch Times laundered millions of dollars.

The Justice Department said the charges against the company’s chief financial officer, Weidong “Bill” Guan, were not related to his newsgathering activities, and an Epoch Times spokeswoman said it plans to “cooperate fully with any investigation into the allegations.” Still, the indictment is investigating one of the most famous Trump supporters. Guan has pleaded not guilty, and a request for comment to the public defender assigned to his case was not immediately returned.

“The right-wing media has finally faced the consequences of its disinformation campaigns,” said Yunkang Yang, professor of communications at Texas A&M University. “Some of them are finally being held accountable for the lies they spread.”

Yotam Ophir, an associate professor of communication who studies disinformation and extremism at the University at Buffalo, said he was encouraged by the reverberations when “misinformation pollutes our information environment, causing real harm to people and undermining trust in institutions and government.”

“The recent lawsuits against those who have made a career out of lying and spreading falsehoods will hopefully help limit the spread and expansion of some of the misinformation we can expect in 2024,” he said.

It remains to be seen whether this will lead to a change in coverage of the November election and post-Election Day results, according to the researchers.

Enter Trump in recent interviews and rallies He aired his complaints about the 2020 elections and said that if the process is not fair, it is necessary to protest the election results. At a campaign rally in Michigan last month, the former president falsely claimed that “Democrats rigged the 2020 presidential election,” adding that “we will not allow them to rig the 2024 presidential election.”

But as for companies looking to avoid further litigation, Yang said, “If Trump loses again and declines re-election, which could happen, I think they’ll be more careful.”

However, “the right-wing media doesn’t have to say the election was stolen,” Yang added, “but they can let readers say the quiet part out loud.”

He said that this is already happening on certain right-wing websites, he wrote in a 2023 report They “rely on a small group of highly active commentators to incite online debate, draw attention to conspiratorial comments, reinforce conspiracy beliefs, and encourage the sharing of propaganda content on social media.”

Amid legal challenges, some sites are pushing back and telling their followers they are being unfairly targeted for their ideology.

Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, blamed “progressive liberal legalese attacks” for declaring bankruptcy, saying it did not indicate “an admission of guilt or culpability” in the allegations.

One of the costumes is included two former Georgia election workers those who are the subject of vote-rigging conspiracy theories; the case goes to court. Other The lawsuit was filed in Colorado A lawsuit by a former Dominion Voting Systems executive against Gateway Pundit and other prominent defendants is ongoing.

A request for comment from Gateway Pundit about its finances before the bankruptcy filing was not immediately returned, though Hoft vowed to continue publishing.

“Despite the radical left’s efforts to silence The Gateway Pundit through censorship, de-platforming, de-banking, advertiser disconnection and other financial strategies, we will not waver in our mission to remain fearless and be one of the best. In America today, they trust independent media outlets,” Hoft said.

Such rhetoric is consistent with Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, going after his political enemies. awaiting judgment with 34 criminal articles historical hush money trialAJ Bauer, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama, said he focused on the right-wing media.

Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence The prosecution, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, said it was part of an effort by President Joe Biden’s administration to interfere with his election prospects.

Coverage of the Trump trial and the unprecedented verdict Fox News suffered a ratings hit surpasses its competitors.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday He pushed back forcefully in front of the home panel He noted how some Republicans, led by Trump’s allies in Congress, have repeated baseless conspiracy theories.

To argue that the New York jury’s decision was “sort of controlled by the Justice Department” is “an attack on the judicial process itself,” Garland said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., called Trump’s trial a “fraud” and announced the “weaponization” of the justice system against Trump.

As the Republican leadership continues to support Trump in the run-up to the election, Bauer said the former president doesn’t need media outlets that “can avoid the facts” to reinforce his beliefs.

Bauer said there are social media users on platforms like X and Internet livestreamers covering Trump events — one prominent YouTube channel. Right Broadcast Network, with more than 1.65 million subscribers — represents another form of broadcasting that has grown even more since the last presidential election. Trump also created a social media platform, Truth Social, after being banned by Facebook and Twitter following the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Truth Social reported the accumulated damage tens of millions of dollars last fall.

Meanwhile, there are conservative and right-wing news sites it is reported that he has difficulty in traffic amid greater financial struggles as a whole legacy and digital news media industryLike once reliable sources of traffic like Facebook and Instagram restrict “political content” to users’ feeds.

On the other hand, Media Matters, a progressive advocacy website for America, fired dozens of staff last month, accusing the president of a “legal assault on multiple fronts.” Last fall, X was sued by owner Elon Musk on a research report on social media platform advertising.

“The terrain of this election is fundamentally different than it was four years ago,” Bauer said.

Ophir, a researcher at the University of Buffalo, said that while the public’s freedom of speech and the ability of the media to remain independent should be considered, social media companies can also remove “harmful content” and media outlets that spread false propaganda can be held accountable. at least through the courts.

But “without systemic change,” he added, the public “will continue to suffer the damage of misinformation for years to come.”

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By 37ci3

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