GOP Governors Launch Propaganda Site Disguised as News Outlet

The world of “fake news got just a little bit bigger, as “news” site the “Free Telegraph“ launched this summer. The unabashedly right-leaning website does little to disclose that it is, in fact, a paid propaganda arm of the Republican Governors Association.

The Associated Press reports:

The website was registered July 7 through Domains By Proxy, a company that allows the originators of a website to shield their identities. An AP search did not find any corporate, Federal Election Commission or IRS filings establishing The Free Telegraph as an independent entity. As of early Monday afternoon, The Free Telegraph’s Twitter account and Facebook page still had no obvious identifiers tying the site to RGA.

Only after The Associated Press inquired about the site last week was a disclosure added to The Free Telegraph’s pages identifying the publication’s partisan source.

The line between news and partisan propaganda has grown increasingly blurry, especially since the 2016 election cycle went into full swing. And that division has been even further erased, with the Trump administration offering media credentials to right-wing bloggers and sites like Breitbart News.

According to MSNBC’s Steve Benen, the “Free Telegraph” is just the latest and most insidious attempt by the right to confuse its audience into believing party propaganda is legitimate news — and that mainstream media articles are actually lies.

“When the Republican Governors Association presents an argument to the public – in a press release, a tweet, a video, etc. – the public has an opportunity to take the information’s partisan affiliation into consideration,” Benen explains.  “The point of an endeavor like The Free Telegraph is to deceive people: by creating a literal propaganda outlet that looks like news, the party is counting on the public being too ignorant to know the difference.”

Progressive media watchdog groups are sounding the alarm over FreeTelegraph.com’s launch and its likelihood to be used as future campaign fodder in the 2018 election. “They’re just seeding the ground,” Angelo Carusone of Media Matters told Newsweek. “They are repackaging their opposition research so it’s there as ‘news,’ and at any moment that publication could become the defining moment of the narrative” in some state’s campaign for governor.

And as Daily Dot reports, the website itself is a skirting of financial campaign rules at best:

RGA is a tax-exempt 527 organization permitted to raise unlimited political donations. As a 527 organization, RGA is forbidden from explicitly promoting individual candidates or parties. However, the partisan slant of the Free Telegraph is clear,” they write. “A casual glance at the website shows flattering stories for Republicans–such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, chairman of the RGA, ‘making history’—and misleading ones for Democrats including portraying party ‘scandals’ and ‘jealous lies.’

Ironically, even Republicans are condemning the new site and its attempt to blur campaign fodder with news. “It’s propaganda for sure, even if they have objective standards and all the reporting is 100 percent accurate,’ Republican communications veteran Rick Tyler, who formerly worked on Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, told the AP.

With a midterm election expected to be as combative — if not more so — than the 2010 midterm that swept the Tea Party into power, we can expect these types of fake news sites to pop up everywhere. And this misleading information will only muddy the water between fact and political spin.

It will be up to us, as news consumers, to help the general public discern truth from paid propaganda.

Photo Credit: Oran Viriyincy/Flickr

54 comments

Colin C
Colin C2 months ago

Thanks for the information

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

Mary B.,
The poll did not show that Republicans are "in touch." They felt that they were out of touch also. Just that the people felt that the Democrats were more out of touch. The real sad part is that we have two out of touch parties with a realistic chance of winning. I am tired of voting for the "lesser of two evils." Neither party has the monopoly on stupid or unethical. Even though that start out that way, seem to get corrupted within the beltway. Hence, I voted third party. If enough of us do so, this may send a signal to the two parties. One can only hope.

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Mary B
Mary B2 months ago

Dan B. When I talk about progressive liberals, I'm not necessarily meaning Dems either. It's just that we only have 2 parties to pick from that have any chance of winning. That being the case, I'll pick Dems and push them in the direction I think they need to go to address the needs of the lowest income people. It's called making a compromise with a rigged system with out compromising my values.
As far as that poll goes, I find it hard to believe. If those polled really understood what the repubs platform is, I doubt they would think they are 'in touch' with the people. I suspect they have been brainwashed with the years of 'liberal elites BS.' I used to buy into all that crap too before I really understood the difference. I also don't buy it that businesses are having problems because of Dems . Stupid unethical people are stupid and unethical, regardless of what they call themselves politically.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

Mary B.,
Yes, I received their expansion announcement. I know in which direction I am headed, and am well aware of the problems on the right. I am also well aware of the problems on the left. You could just as well write that their roll has been to oppose progress for the majority of people which includes the middle class, businesses (small and large), and people of faith. A recent poll found that more people felt that the Democratic Party was out of touch than the Republican Party.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/democratic-party-out-of-touch-obama-wall-street-speech/524784/

Now that is really saying something! My point was that the care2 writers ignore the problems on the left, thinking that one wing is capable of flying by itself. If care2 were to truly "make the world a better place by doing good," then I wholeheartedly agree. However, they seem to have morphed into the false idea that they are "making the world a better place by supporting the Democratic Party." That is a far cry from the motto you posted. I have no problem opposing the Republicans, just do not try to get me to support the Democrats.

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Mary B
Mary B2 months ago

Dan B., CARE2 IS moving forward. If right wingers can also move forward they would be useful. Trying to blame this website for going backwards because you can't seem to tell what direction you're going is pretty lame. Didn't you get their latest announcement about their B Corp status and the plans for expansion? The motto "Making The World A Better Place by Doing Good ". The plan to fund non-profits and grassroots organization ? Right wingers are going to have to evolve enough to support those ideas if they want to be the Other Wing. Traditionally their roll has been to oppose progress for the majority of people which includes the poor, elderly and disabled. Certainly you are aware of their disdain for those they think of as useless in a capitalist society ?

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei2 months ago

More fake news from fake human beings.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Noted.

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Janet B
Janet B2 months ago

Thanks

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 months ago

Mary B.,
Of course it takes two wings to fly. Unfortunately, care2 is limping along on only one. Of course there are many things from the past that empower people. That is why that I disagree with care2 acting as if they are backward.

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