A “New York Times” expose has revealed that a former Fox News executive paid writers in Macedonia to create click-bait that prompt Americans to fight more about issues.
“The sites are the work of Ken LaCorte, the former Fox News executive who was accused of killing a story about President Trump’s affair with Stormy Daniels, the pornographic film actress, before the 2016 election,” wrote The Times.
Indeed, LaCorte, who left Fox News after the 2016 election, happily acknowledges he spiked the Daniels story, claiming it didn’t meet journalistic standards, a claim hotly disputed by the reporter, Diana Falzone, and others aware of the situation.
In 2018, he recruited former NPR editorial director Michael Oreskes and former Fox News executive editor John Moody to launch LaCorte News, “a digital news startup with the stated goal of restoring faith in media.”
Ten days ago, Facebook removed LaCorte News and a number of LaCorte-owned publications from its platform, citing “spam and misrepresentation.”
Not a good way to restore faith.
The Times article reported that both left and right-wing click-bait websites created by an international content farm were designed to inflame people enough to click and share content.
“Conservative Edition News” and “Liberal Edition News” presented stories to infuriate each side for the purpose of generating hate-clicks, response articles and more.
Young Macedonians in Veles were the ones “churning out disinformation” for the 2016 election campaign.
“Among Mr. LaCorte’s network was one writer who helped peddle a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton had ties to a pedophile ring,” the report explained.
Veles, according to reports from “The Guardian” and “BuzzFeed” a Macedonian town of 55,000 people, was the registered home of at least 100 pro-Trump websites.
“Wired” described them as sites dominated with sensationalist, utterly fake news.
“While big tech companies like Google and Twitter are trying to distance themselves from divisive politics by restricting or banning political ads, Mr. LaCorte’s websites are a reminder that there is a cottage industry of small sites happy to stoke passions on both sides of the political aisle and cash in on that anger,” the report continued.
None of the stories have authors on them, and the bottom of the pages says “By Bivona Digital Inc.” It’s a company that uses an address often “reserved for transient sailors off the San Francisco Bay in Sausalito, California.”
While LaCorte maintains that all he’s trying to do is create a source for “center-right” news, he’s prioritizing the financial benefits of clickbait and propaganda over the “centrist-right” politics he purports to espouse.
“The spreading of politically divisive content or even blatant disinformation and conspiracy theories by Americans is protected free speech. Security experts said the adoption of Russian tactics by profit-motivated Americans had made it much harder to track disinformation,” The Times explained.
The adoption of Russian tactics.