Rightwing operatives in the US are targeting state elections through a network of local fake news sites

Rightwing operatives in the US are targeting state elections through a network of local fake news sites. These sites have published thousands of misleading or erroneous information with a conservative bias on politically charged subjects over the past year. An investigation by online newsletter Popular Information, found that 28 sites in Virginia, which described themselves as local news outlets and all owned by the same company, published almost 5,000 articles about critical race theory (CRT) in schools. CRT is an academic discipline that examines the ways in which racism operates in US laws and society and although it is not taught in Virginia schools, the idea of CRT has become an inflammatory call to arms among the right wing. The Virginia “local news” sites, include the Central Virginia Times and the Fredericksburg Leader. These two sites are, in turn, run by Metric Media, an organization that operates more than 1,300 “community news sites” across the US and is linked to Locality Labs, both of which are overseen by Brian Timpone. According to journalist Adam Gabbatt, in 2020 the New York Times revealed that the two companies, along with others involved in publishing the sites, “have received at least $1.7m from Republican political campaigns and conservative groups''. Neither Metric Media or Brian Timpone responded to the journalist’s requests for comment.