Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Republican Governors Association has a partisan website masquerading as news, AP reports

A partial screen shot of The Free Telegraph shows an attack
 on the Democratic nominee for governor of New Jersey.
The growing field of partisan media has a new entry that tries to disguise its partisanship. “The Republican Governors Association has quietly launched an online publication that looks like a media outlet and is branded as such on social media,” Bill Barrow reports for The Associated Press. “The Free Telegraph blares headlines about the virtues of GOP governors, while framing Democrats negatively. It asks readers to sign up for breaking news alerts. It launched in the summer bearing no acknowledgement that it was a product of an official party committee whose sole purpose is to get more Republicans elected. Only after The Associated Press inquired about the site last week was a disclosure added to The Free Telegraph’s pages identifying the publication’s partisan source.”

Barrow reports that the site was registered through “a company that allows the originators of a website to shield their identities. An AP search did not find any corporate, Federal Election Commission or IRS filings establishing The Free Telegraph as an independent entity. As of early Monday afternoon, The Free Telegraph’s Twitter account and Facebook page still had no obvious identifiers tying the site to RGA. The site described itself on Twitter as 'bringing you the political news that matters outside of Washington'. The Facebook account labeled The Free Telegraph a 'Media/News Company'.”

Democrats and liberal media critics told Barrow that material from the site is likely to appear digital and television ads, masquerading as news. A leading academic in the field of political advertising, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the University of Pennsylvania, “said The Free Telegraph commits a form of 'identity theft' by 'appropriating the integrity of news' because 'the form of news carries credibility' that blatantly partisan sites do not.”

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