Meddling in Elections
I got a big surprise in my mail recently. Among the letters, bills and fliers was what appeared to be a full-sized newspaper. At first I thought the newspaper delivery person had mistakenly crammed the paper in my mailbox, but it turned out to be a “newspaper” called The Epoch Times. As I looked it over, based on the content and the fact Trump was pictured on every page, my first thought was that Trump or the Republican Party or a Republican super-pac had started publishing a newspaper. This would be unusual in this day and time, but our national history includes many attempts to manipulate public opinion in favor of particular politicians through the ownership and control of newspapers.
On further research through Wikipedia, I learned The Epoch Times is published by Chinese American persons associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China. For some reason, this group of rich Chinese Americans support Trump and have also given favorable coverage to far-right politicians in Europe. According to Wikipedia, this group is the second largest funder of pro-Trump Facebook advertising after the Trump campaign itself. The Epoch Times is dressed up to look like a newspaper, but it is political propaganda.
One has to wonder what influence the successful election meddling by Russia will have on every aspect of our politics. If anything, Russia’s success without serious negative consequences encourages others. No news source is considered non-partisan and trustworthy. In many instances, inconvenient or uncomfortable facts that don’t fit a person’s chosen narrative are just blown off as “fake news”. A big slice of the public has either turned off the news or gets its news from social media. An even bigger slice has made a permanent choice to watch or listen to only those sources which cater to them and these networks and other media sources are either happy to oblige or feel they have no choice other than to pick sides and double-down.
I have no idea what the true purpose of Epoch Times may be. I know the Falun Gong movement is oppressed in China and that the movement is anti-Communist, but why ally with Trump? Trump picked a trade fight with China that he is losing, but he has been loath to criticize China outside of its economic policies. He was very late and tepid in commenting upon the Hong Kong protests. He has ignored human rights abuses against the Uighurs. He never mentions the re-education camps. If he has tried, he has been unable to persuade China to control North Korea. China is mostly unchecked in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Trump has never criticized China’s almost total control of its people through surveillance and a vigorous security apparatus. Trump has shown no appetite for standing up to China’s censorship of the internet and bullying of our technology companies.
Whatever Falun Gong wants from Trump, flattery is a good strategy, but Trump won’t deliver.