Photo (cc) 2009 by longtrekhome

To the extent that I had ever given any thought to The Epoch Times, I considered it a mouthpiece for Falun Gong, a controversial spiritual movement that has been persecuted by the Chinese government. I also knew that it had adopted an extreme pro-Trump orientation in recent years.

Now it turns out that federal prosecutors say it’s a massive grift as well. In what CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy calls an “astonishing indictment,” the Justice Department claims that the nonprofit newspaper raked in $67 million from a money-laundering operation organized by Weidong Guan, its chief financial officer. Guan used cryptocurrency to purchase crime proceeds, according to the indictment, which led to an enormous influx of revenue.

As NBC News reporter reported in 2023, before any of the current criminal allegations were known:

Funded through aggressive online and real-world marketing campaigns and big-money conservative donors, The Epoch Times now boasts to be the country’s fourth-largest newspaper by subscriber count. (Unlike most major newspapers, The Epoch Times isn’t audited by the two major independent collectors of circulation data.) The nonprofit has amassed a fortune, growing its revenue by a staggering 685% in two years, to $122 million in 2021, according to the group’s most recent tax records.

Its editorial vision — fueled by a right-wing slant and conspiracy theories —  is on display in recent reports on how “Jan. 6 Capitol Hill Security Footage Challenges Key Narratives” and “Meteorologists, Scientists Explain Why There Is ‘No Climate Emergency.’” Its video series include a documentary-style film alleging widespread vaccine injury and death and an exposé of an alleged world government agenda to harm farmers, cull the population and force survivors to eat bugs.

Tastes like chicken!

The Epoch Times obviously isn’t as influential as Fox News, which fuels Donald Trump’s lie-filled comeback bid on an hourly basis. But it’s certainly more influential than local pink-slime outlets like the North Boston News or the Boston Times, nearly invisible right-wing outlets that at this stage of their development appear to be more inept than they are dangerous.

For instance, according to SimilarWeb, The Epoch Times’ English-language website was visited 89 million times between February and April, more than right-wing sites such as NewsMax, TownHall and the Gateway Pundit, and nearly as many as Breitbart.

Now the future of The Epoch Times is very much in doubt.

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