New York Times “disinformation” reporter Davey Alba made the front page of Friday’s Business section with another hit piece on the rival, conservative newspaper The Epoch Times, an outlet backed by the China-based religious movement of Falun Gong that has a strong and for the Times, dangerous, social media presence. It is also a strong opponent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which probably annoys some of the New York Times’ hard-left staffers.
The Epoch Times does have a breathless quality to its coverage, not all of which pans out. But the NYT's abject horror over Epoch's very existence and apparent annoyance of its strong stance against the thugs of the CCP (who have attacked the paper's printing press) smacks of overkill. Now it’s being criticized for spreading COVID misinformation on the back of cute cat clips in “How Cute Cats Help Spread Misinformation Online.”
On Oct. 2, New Tang Dynasty Television, a station linked to the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, posted a Facebook video of a woman saving a baby shark stranded on a shore. Next to the video was a link to subscribe to The Epoch Times, a newspaper that is tied to Falun Gong and that spreads anti-China and right-wing conspiracies. The post collected 33,000 likes, comments and shares.
“Anti-China”? To be against the totalitarian Community Party regime in China isn’t “anti-China,” no matter how the liberal Times would like to conflate the two.
Alba goes after several targets, but returns to Epoch Times and its awful use of cute pet videos to draw in viewers, something surely never done before in history.
Now, it is becoming increasingly clear how widely the old-school internet trick is being used by people and organizations peddling false information online, misinformation researchers say.
Perhaps no organization deploys the tactic as forcefully as Epoch Media, parent company of The Epoch Times. Epoch Media has published videos of cute animals in 12,062 posts on its 103 Facebook pages in the past year, according to an analysis by The New York Times….
Alba even tracked down the original licensors of those dangerous animal videos.
Mike Skogmo, Jukin Media’s senior vice president for marketing and communications, said his company had a licensing deal with New Tang Dynasty Television, the station tied to Falun Gong.
Asked whether the company evaluated whether their clips were used as engagement bait for misinformation in striking the license deals, Mr. Skogmo said Jukin had nothing else to add.
The Epoch Times is the New York Times' favorite whipping boy. Tech reporter Kevin Roose made a Sunday front page with a hit piece: “How an Obscure Newspaper Became a Bullhorn for the Far Right.” The Times itself never goes after the CCP with the same vigor.
Alba previously called Epoch “a top purveyor of conspiracy theories and political misinformation” and again faulted it for “regularly publish[ing] anti-Chinese Communist Party content.” (A month later, the paper’s printing press in Hong Kong was smashed up, surely at the instigation of the CCP. Perhaps Epoch has a point?)
The Times even went after the paper for having been handed out by white people in Wisconsin.