US conservative media outlet’s ties to Chinese spiritual movement put in spotlight

22-Aug-2019 Intellasia | AFP | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A prominent US conservative media outlet has defended its journalism after an NBC News investigation reported that it was closely tied to a little-known Chinese spiritual movement.

The Epoch Times, a newspaper and website which is said by critics to have a strongly supportive stance on Donald Trump, faced scrutiny over its connections to Falun Gong.

Falun Gong is a religious movement which emerged in China in the 1990s and has been the subject of crackdowns by the Chinese communist government.

The movement’s founder, Li Hongzhi, lives in upstate New York with hundreds of supporters. According to NBC he has rallied against the wickedness of homosexuality, feminism and popular music.

The Epoch Times had founders who included practitioners of Falun Gong. The NBC investigation looked into whether the movement’s views were shaping the outlet’s coverage of Trump.

The broadcaster talked to former reporters who worked there, including one called Steve Klett, who covered the Trump campaign in 2016 for The Epoch Times.

Discussing the stories journalists were encouraged to write, Klett said: “It’s like we were supposed to be fighting so-called liberal propaganda by making our own.”

Some journalists were reportedly made to watch a video that laid out the Chinese persecution of Falun Gong followers when they joined the outlet.

NBC reported that The Epoch Times had spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 pro-Trump Facebook advertisements in the last six months, citing the internet giant’s advertising archive.

Falun Gong is critical of Chinese communism, which could explain why some of its practitioners are supportive of Trump, who has taken a combative stance with Beijing in trade talks.

Li Hongzhi, the group’s founder, also reportedly argues that he is a god-like figure who can levitate and walk through walls.

Falun Gong believers think the world is headed towards judgment day and that communists will be sent to a form of hell, according to former practitioners who talked to NBC.

Responding to the investigation, Stephen Gregory, the US publisher of The Epoch Times, wrote an online article more than 1,000 words long which countered what NBC had reported.

“The Epoch Times is not funded by Falun Gong practitioners, nor does it speak for Falun Gong practitioners,” Gregory wrote. He also said Li Hongzhi “has no role” at the outlet.

Gregory said: “We are committed to reporting the facts on the Trump administration, even as many other media have resorted to selective reporting and, in some cases, spread inaccurate information.”

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/us-conservative-media-outlets-ties-203444526.html

 


Category: China

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