Lefty ‘Dark Money’ Group ACRONYM Behind Liberal ‘Fake News’ Push to ‘Influence the 2020 Election’

May 26th, 2020 3:19 PM

A liberal dark money operation pushing “fake news” to hurt President Donald Trump in the 2020 election is pulling out all the stops.

OpenSecrets revealed that “political operations are pouring millions of ‘dark money’ dollars into ads and digital content masquerading as news coverage to influence the 2020 election.” One of those operations is dubbed Courier Newsroom, which is owned by the leftist nonprofit ACRONYM. ACRONYM is the company behind the Iowa Democratic Caucus app fiasco. OpenSecrets described Courier as “a network of websites emulating progressive local news outlets.”

ACRONYM Founder and CEO Tara McGowan says this on her Twitter bio: “[W]eaponizing truth to get Trump TFO.”

Liberal outlet The Atlantic published a piece updated February 10, headlined “The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President.” That piece complained that “The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings.”

Not surprisingly, what ACRONYM had been up to for months — pushing lefty ads and digital content “masquerading as news coverage” — was barely a blip on the radar for that piece. 

“Courier has faced scrutiny for exploiting the collapse of local journalism to spread ‘hyperlocal partisan propaganda,’” according to OpenSecrets.

Liberal billionaire George Soros’s Democracy PAC had fueled ACRONYM’s super PAC PACRONYM, with $1.75 million so far. Both ACRONYM and its affiliated PAC were part of a coordinated effort reported last year to invest $75 million in anti-Trump ad campaigning in order to shape “how the public views Mr. Trump and the Democratic Party during the primary season, well before a nominee emerges.”

Courier Newsroom claims that itself and “its affiliated sites are independent from ACRONYM.” However, “a new tax return obtained by OpenSecrets lists ACRONYM as the full owner of Courier as of April. 30, 2019, the most recent date on record.”

OpenSecrets provided context:

Websites affiliated with Courier Newsroom that appear to be free-standing local news outlets are actually part of a coordinated effort with deep ties to Democratic political operatives.

Also, “most of the websites” within Courier Newsroom’s web of websites even received failing grades from the liberal website ratings firm NewsGuard. The reason? “The low scores are due largely to an ‘undisclosed partisan Democratic perspective’ and lack of financial transparency,” according to OpenSecrets.

Cardinal & Pine, Courier’s newest appendage, “spent more than $200,000 on digital advertising targeting North Carolina since launching its first Facebook ad campaigns in late March. The page’s ads give the appearance of news but are mostly focused on the coronavirus pandemic or on criticizing President Donald Trump.”

“According to Bloomberg, Courier Newsroom’s model isn’t to create destination news sites readers visit on their own, but rather to spread the articles via social media, including microtargeted online advertising,” reported Quartz.

OpenSecrets said that “[o]perations tied to ACRONYM spent nearly $10 million on digital ads in the time period since online platforms first began disclosing political ad spending in mid-2018, with more than $7.3 million of that spending through pages with obscured or secret funding sources.”

ACRONYM reportedly received at least “$9.4 million from secret donors during its second year of operation through April 2019, more than seven times the prior year according to its tax returns.” OpenSecrets noted that “Three anonymous donors giving more than $1 million each made up more than half of that, with the top donor giving more than $2 million.”

McGowan talked to Bloomberg News about Courier’s Facebook strategy November, 2019:

Everybody who clicks on, likes, or shares an article … we get that data back to create a lookalike audience to find other people with similar attributes in the same area. So we continually grow our ability to find people.