The biggest print purveyor in the news industry has been taking money to publish fake news supporting Republican candidates, highlighting mugshots of Black crime suspects, and mocking LGBTQ people.
Gannett -- which also publishes the conspiratorial Epoch Times -- hasn't commented on its publication of phony newspapers in Illinois such as “West Cook News” and “Chicago City Wire," which appear to be linked to Florida-based conservative talk show host Dan Proft, who has targeted Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"The fake newspapers previously were printed by a Chicago suburban newspaper, the Daily Herald, but the owner canceled the contract on Sept. 22 after Pritzker publicly chastised the company and refused to participate in a candidates’ debate sponsored by the Daily Herald," the Post-Dispatch reported. "Proft’s company, Local Government Information Services, then took its business to cash-strapped Gannett, lamenting that it had paid 'millions of dollars' to the Daily Herald’s publishing company, Paddock Publications, over a period of several years."
The publications have been repeatedly caught by fact-checkers for peddling misinformation, and their coverage of Pritzker's GOP challenger Darren Bailey appears to have lifted talking points from his campaign promotional materials.
The phony newspapers are also oddly fixated profiling Chicago-area teens with notably low rankings in youth tennis.
“It has all the appearance and trappings of an official news organization, and it’s trying to hitch a ride off the credibility of newspapers built over time,” said Peter Adams, senior vice president of education at the News Literacy Project. “This crosses the boundary into propaganda.”