According to Axios, Democrat operatives are allegedly facilitating news sites to push campaigns in close states during the midterm elections. The article discusses 51 sites with names such as the Milwaukee Metro Times, the Mecklenburg Herald, and the Tri-City Record. These sites are reportedly being supported by the American Independent (TAI), which was “launched by Democratic operative and fundraiser David Brock — also known for founding the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters for America.”
Axios refers to the array of sites as the “Democrats’ swing-state local news ploy.” The sites present “ostensible local media outlets churning out Democrat-aligned news content.”
David Brock has long been someone known as an extreme figure in politics and was closely associated with Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. Brock, however, has always given figures like Clinton deniability in direct responsibility for his actions.
TAI and related groups appear to have been established to create the usual layers of obscurity.
Some of these sites are reportedly managed by Local Report, Inc., which appears linked to TAI.
American Independent bills itself as:
“the No. 1 digital platform for progressive news, reaching millions of people each month. We strive to report with honesty and integrity and shine a light on those in power who obstruct progress.”
The president of TAI is Matt Fuehrmeyer who formerly worked as a senior aide with the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee and the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. TAI Vice President and Executive Editor is Jessica McCreight who reportedly is a former Obama communications staff member.
Despite promising to “shine light” on media coverage, Axios reported that TAI was less than forthcoming when confronted on these alleged faux media sites: “McCreight, TAI’s executive editor, described its relationship with Local Report Inc. as a “co-publishing agreement” but would not say whether her organization has editorial control over the sites’ content.”
What is interesting is the report that Democrats have been using sites like CourierNewsroom.com to flood social media with “stories” supporting Democrats — at a time when Democrats were denouncing disinformation and calling for bans on these sties. That site is funded by Acronym, a Democrat-aligned nonprofit, which in turn is reportedly funded by “dark money” accounts.
For its part, Media Matters was again in the news this week in opposing the restoration of free speech protections on social media sites like Twitter. President Angelo Carusone denounced a possible Elon Musk takeover as potentially disastrous. He warned that Musk “wants to put in place and the way that he wants to use the platform, as a way to balance out those other social networks.” Balancing other social networks? Perish the thought.
This is, however, the quote that most stood out:
“He likened the potential Musk acquisition of Twitter to when Fox News launched more than two decades ago, offering an alternative to balance what its founders viewed as a media landscape that catered to liberals. “That’s what Fox became — and it had a profound distorting effect on the news media, on our society. And if you look at what Musk says about social media, we are in the same moment, just updated 30 years late.”
(For full disclosure, I currently work as a legal analyst for Fox).
The fear that Twitter could become a new Fox is telling. Fox remains the most popular cable news network; it not only often doubles the viewership of its rivals, but more Democrats watch Fox than CNN.
The comment is the latest example of panic on the left over the potential loss of control over speech on social media. The reference to Fox highlights the obvious problem with using corporate censorship if there is any alternative to censored or biased sites. Previously, Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney of California wrote a letter to cable carriers like AT&T to ask why they are still allowing people to watch FOX News. It did not work. Whatever the desire to ban Fox, the cable carriers know that they cannot block the most popular news source on cable.
The fear is that Twitter could not just flourish in offering a site with free speech protections but undermine the extensive system of corporate censorship established over the last ten years. They have reason to be worried. Despite a bizarre campaign by Facebook to get people to embrace censorship, most users clearly want a type of common carrier on social media without corporate censors. If a major social media were to return to such free speech protections, it could indeed become the dominant social media company…and that would be a good thing.