This post was written with help from Phil Hodges at Eagle Rising.com.
Over the last few weeks your favorite online publications from Liberty Alliance have been making some major waves in the mainstream media. First, our publications made an appearance in the New York Times as part of a larger conversation about social media’s impact on the political landscape. The New York Times wasn’t exactly kind in their reporting but they did offer their assessment that we at Liberty Alliance had built a media network that was making an important impact on the American political landscape.
Many of these political news pages will likely find their cachet begin to evaporate after Nov. 8. But one company, the Liberty Alliance, may have found a way to create something sustainable and even potentially transformational, almost entirely within the ecosystem of Facebook. The Georgia-based firm was founded by Brandon Vallorani, formerly of Answers in Genesis, the organization that opened a museum in Kentucky promoting a literal biblical creation narrative. Today the Liberty Alliance has around 100 sites in its network, and about 150 Facebook pages, according to Onan Coca, the company’s 36-year-old editor in chief. He estimates their cumulative follower count to be at least 50 million. Among the company’s partners are the former congressman Allen West, the 2008 election personality Joe the Plumber, the conservative actor Kirk Cameron and the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Victoria Jackson. Then there are Liberty’s countless news-oriented pages, which together have become an almost ubiquitous presence on right-leaning political Facebook in the last few years. Their names are instructive and evocative: Eagle Rising; Fighting for Trump; Patriot Tribune; Revive America; US Herald; The Last Resistance…
For now, the network hums along, mostly beneath the surface. A post from a Liberty Alliance page might find its way in front of a left-leaning user who might disagree with it or find it offensive, and who might choose to engage with the friend who posted it directly. But otherwise, such news exists primarily within the feeds of the already converted, its authorship obscured, its provenance unclear, its veracity questionable. It’s an environment that’s at best indifferent and at worst hostile to traditional media brands; but for this new breed of page operator, it’s mostly upside. In front of largely hidden and utterly sympathetic audiences, incredible narratives can take shape, before emerging, mostly formed, into the national discourse.
This week another mainstream media publication picked up the storyline and continued with the argument that perhaps we were too conservative for our readers’ good. The folks at Buzzfeed, a popular liberal website that covers culture and politics, recently wrote a lengthy piece about several of Liberty Alliance’s friends. In an article on the “hyperpartisan” nature of political new media Buzzfeed took issue with the reporting from Liberty Alliance’s Eagle Rising, Freedom Daily, and one of our sister pages – at Right Wing News.
I had heard of BuzzFeed before. They were always known for their clickbait headlines – something their editor-in-chief Ben Smith roundly denies – and cute kitten videos. You know, stuff like “21 Photos of Cats Sneezing That Will Make You Laugh.” They have a knack for making the most useless information go viral. But whatever. It’s their business.
In recent times, they’ve shifted the way they do things. They still have their useless content – you’ve got to have something for everyone – but now they have a more “serious” journalistic section.
In their BuzzFeed News portion, they had a lengthy article talking about how “hyperpartisan” Facebook pages are releasing misleading and false information at an “alarming rate.” And guess which site was part of their investigative analysis? Eagle Rising:
Our analysis of three hyperpartisan right-wing Facebook pages found that 38% of all posts were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false, compared to 19% of posts from three hyperpartisan left-wing pages that were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false. The right-wing pages are among the forces — perhaps as potent as the cable news shows that have gotten far more attention — that helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump.
These pages, with names such as Eagle Rising on the right and Occupy Democrats on the left, represent a new and powerful force in American politics and society. Many have quickly grown to be as large as — and often much larger than — mainstream political news pages. A recent feature in the New York Times Magazine reported on the growth and influence of these pages, saying they “have begun to create and refine a new approach to political news: cherry-picking and reconstituting the most effective tactics and tropes from activism, advocacy and journalism into a potent new mixture.”
They go on to say that their analysis brought them to a “troubling” conclusion: That the only way for political sites – like Eagle Rising – to gain an audience on Facebook is for them to publish false or misleading articles and headlines.
They contrasted the “hyperpartisan” left-wing and right-wing sites with mainstream media networks such as Politico, CNN, and ABC News. They found that the mainstream news network sites very rarely (basically never) published anything that was either misleading or false, and yet, their posts don’t get the same engagement from their audience (shares and reactions and such) as hyperpartisan sites do, a large portion of which is false. And they claim these hyperpartisan sites use clickbait headlines to reel readers in. (Speaking of clickbait, take a look at BuzzFeed News’ Twitter page.)
So, while the mainstream sources are publishing the truth and not gaining much ground on social media, the ones that are peddling trash and false or misleading headlines are the ones who are doing well.
What they didn’t cover in their never-ending article was how they did their “fact-checking.” How did they decide which stories were accurate, and which were false? By comparing hyperpartisan content to CNN?
What makes mainstream news networks so misleading is how much information they leave out. They lie by omission. They define the narrative, and if they don’t mention something, then it doesn’t exist. If they don’t talk about Hillary’s scandals, then she doesn’t have any.
But they also engage in twisting words, taking quotes out of context, blowing things out of proportion, and they do it for ratings.
All that makes people mad. It creates a vacuum and a demand for what BuzzFeed calls hyperpartisan blogs and websites. They cover the stories that the big national media won’t cover.
The truth is while the coverage from the New York Times and Buzzfeed may seem unflattering, we’ll take the negative attention all day long. If we’re upsetting the liberal fascists at the Times and Buzzfeed then we must be doing something right, and we’ll keep right on doing it. We work hard to bring you the most important stories of the day without the leftist spin and with all the pertinent facts and we won’t let a little liberal intimidation slow us down. We need your help though folks – keep reading our stories, keep sharing them with your friends, and keep supporting your friendly neighborhood conservative truth-tellers!