It has dominated the American news landscape for the last year. And because of its overwhelming success, Republicans have decided to buy in and set up their own shop.
“The Free Telegraph,” launched in July with no fanfare or notice, and quickly began churning out GOP-slanted news articles with a quickness. What they failed to do, however, was disclose that The Free Telegraph was created, funded and launched by the Republican Governors Association (RGA).
The page was designed to look like a normal news website, and only placed a disclaimer stating their partisan funding and content source months after launching because The Associated Press made an official inquiry.
Since then, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) has gone on to describe The Free Telegraph as a ‘tool for routine political communication.’ However, RGA Chairman Scott Walker, who is best known as the man who simultaneously cratered Wisconsin’s labor sector and economy, has refused to answer questions about The Free Telegraph. RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said the site was only intended to “share the positive results” of the 34 sitting GOP governors.
But the content found on the site seems to be more propaganda than news or positive stories. In addition to reprinted press releases and stories found on the RGA website, there are a number of hit pieces designed to attack sitting Democratic governors and Democratic nominees who are running against Republicans.
One current piece on the site is titled “Which of Phil Murphy’s houses are you?” It is a “quiz” reminiscent of those found in Buzzfeed or Mashable with the following copy:
“New Jersey democratic governor candidate, Phil Murphy has several luxurious homes all over the world. Answer the following ten questions and we’ll tell you exactly which one of Phil Murphy’s lavish homes you are. The New Jersey mansion? Or maybe the extravagant apartment in Berlin? So many possibilities!”
The site’s fake news bias is so blatant and over the top, even Republican operatives have come out against it. Rick Tyler, the former Ted Cruz campaign spokesperson who was forced to resign after circulating a fake news story about Marco Rubio, has publicly called it propaganda.
“They’re just seeding the ground,” said Angelo Carusone, who runs Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group. “They are repackaging their opposition research so it’s there as ‘news,’ and at any moment that publication could become the defining moment of the narrative” in some state’s campaign for governor.