Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, a group of Democratic operatives based in Washington, D.C. and Florida have quietly created a national network of websites designed to mimic local news outlets, according to an investigation by Worthy.
Writers from the Washington, D.C.-based progressive news site The American Independent broadcast content to at least 51 different news sites with local-sounding names such as Milwaukee Metro Times and Mecklenburg Heraldall say they are run by a Florida based company called Local Report Inc.
Based in mid-range states such as Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, the outlets feature a mix of syndicated news, sports scores and partisan content. the investigation found.
The exact nature of the ownership of these sites remains opaque, but suggests a larger democratic mission.
The American Independent started by Democratic operative and fundraiser David Brock, who also created the left-wing media watchdog Media Matters for America. The group is funded in part by the nonprofit arm of American Bridge, an opposition research focused Democratic super PAC.
“It has been widely reported that where local news outlets close, disinformation and disinformation increases.” American Independent said executive editor Jessica McCreight The independent via email. “To combat this challenge, The American Independent has expanded to provide readers with local, fact-based news and information on topics and issues affecting their communities.”
the publication said The independent Its content is “open source” and it considers the Local Reference a “partner” using the material.
Much of the content on the national network of websites described in the survey appears to come from six American Independent authors, Worthy were found.
Typical stories appear similar to a mainstream local news site, such as a May article on Wisconsin Lake Times mocking Democratic Gov. Tony Evers investments in broadband Internet access.
Other articles, such as a September writing in Valley Gazettethey go out of their way to poke fun at Republicans.
The piece describes GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake as “leaving the poor and working-class residents to fend for themselves” and proposing tax policies that will mean “public infrastructure will further decay making life even more difficult in the Grand Canyon State “, as the author writes.
Contrary to prevailing journalistic standards, the article did not indicate that Ms. Lake’s comment had been sought for the article.
The articles appear to be influencing mainstream Democratic messaging, with the Stacey Abrams campaign, the Georgia and Michigan Democratic parties and the Democratic Senate Committee running articles from the network on their communications channels.
In September, NewsGuard, a group that monitors journalism standards, argued The American Independent is responsible for supporting another network of so-called “pink slime” journalistic websites, reporting on a meat hopper used in fast food restaurants.
Partisan media is a strategy that has been used by both parties in the US and arguably pioneered on the right, from the conservative halls of Fox News, to companies like Metric Media, which created 1,200 local news sites who support the GOP ahead of the 2020 election.
Among the most influential of such conservative networks is Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns many local news television stations. Sinclair outlets broadcast the company with right inclination National Office News program and have previously been shown featuring journalists reading from the same politically charged scripts on channels across the country.