For conservative media outlets, embarrassing setbacks pile up

Some prominent news organizations have confronted unwelcome drama lately. As New York magazine’s Chas Danner noted this week, for example, “All is not well at the Washington Post, where multiple crises have rocked the newsroom over the course of a single week and new CEO and publisher Will Lewis is at the center of all of them.” There’s been some related turmoil at The Daily Beast and The Wall Street Journal.

But for those interested in the media as an industry, the real uproar has been on the right. NBC News this week highlighted the embarrassing missteps piling up among conservative outlets.

Right-wing media that became purveyors of misinformation and amplified false claims as Donald Trump undermined the results of the 2020 election are finding themselves on the losing end of legal challenges — or facing new ones. In just a few months, a handful of high-profile fringe media operations have been hit with courtroom losses.

It was last year when Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems reached a $787.5 million settlement agreement, in a case that produced evidence that suggested Fox promoted bogus election claims they knew to be false in order to placate its audience and make money.

But there’s plenty of more recent data points to consider:

  • A prominent right-wing outlet called Gateway Pundit, facing election-related defamation lawsuits, recently filed for bankruptcy.
  • One America News Network reached a settlement with Smartmatic, a leading voting machine company.
  • While Fox News and Newsmax have denied any wrongdoing, both are still facing Smartmatic lawsuits, and the litigation continues to bring new allegations to the fore.
  • The Epoch Times’ chief financial officer was recently arrested and charged with leading a yearslong scheme to launder at least $67 million in illicit funds.
  • The Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) has reportedly forged a financial agreement with the Trump campaign, despite ostensibly being an independent outlet.

In case this weren’t quite enough, Infowars host Alex Jones, facing brutal defamation judgments, last week announced plans to liquidate his assets. A week earlier, as NBC News’ report added, “2000 Mules,” a conspiratorial election documentary popular with Trump and his followers “was pulled by the publisher, Salem Media Group, and the company issued a public apology to a Georgia man who is suing the author and publisher on defamation claims after he was accused of ballot stuffing.”

That’s quite a streak, and there’s no reason to assume the list won’t grow longer.

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