The New York Times has published a comprehensive report on the Epoch Times, the pro-Turmp media operation associated with the Chine Falun Gong movement. The article, titled “How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine” begins:
Published Oct. 24, 2020 Updated Nov. 12, 2020 For years, The Epoch Times was a small, low-budget newspaper with an anti-China slant that was handed out free on New York street corners. But in 2016 and 2017, the paper made two changes that transformed it into one of the country’s most powerful digital publishers. The changes also paved the way for the publication, which is affiliated with the secretive and relatively obscure Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, to become a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation. First, it embraced President Trump, treating him as an ally in Falun Gong’s scorched-earth fight against China’s ruling Communist Party, which banned the group two decades ago and has persecuted its members ever since. Its relatively staid coverage of U. S. politics became more partisan, with more articles explicitly supporting Mr. Trump and criticizing his opponents. Around the same time, The Epoch Times bet big on another powerful American institution: Facebook. The publication and its affiliates employed a novel strategy that involved creating dozens of Facebook pages, filling them with feel-good videos and viral clickbait, and using them to sell subscriptions and drive traffic back to its partisan news coverage.
Read the rest here.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported in October that Facebook had removed a huge network of real and fake accounts associated with the Falun Gong movement over violations of ts foreign interference policy.
The Oxford Research Encyclopedia explains the Falun Gong as follows:
Falun Gong (FLG) is a Qi Gong group that entered into conflict with the Chinese state around the turn of the 21st century, and gradually transformed into a political movement. Qi Gong, in turn, is an ancient system of exercises that has been compared to yoga. Falun Gong was founded in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by Li Hongzhi (LHZ) in 1992, in the latter part of what has been termed the Qi Gong “boom.” As the leadership of the PRC became increasingly critical of the traditional folk religion and superstition that was emerging within some of the Qi Gong groups, Li Hongzhi and his family emigrated to the United States. From the safety of his new country of residence, LHZ directed his Chinese followers to become increasingly confrontational, eventually staging a mass demonstration in front of government offices in Beijing on April 25, 1999. The movement was subsequently banned.
The Epoch Times is one of the most mysterious fixtures of the pro-Trump media universe. It was started 20 years ago as a print newspaper by practitioners of Falun Gong, the persecuted Chinese spiritual practice. In recent years, the paper has made inroads into top Republican circles. Mr. Trump and his advisers have shared Epoch Times articles on their social media accounts, and last year, Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, sat for an interview with an Epoch Times editor. Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, called it “our favorite paper.”