The Epoch Times is a far-right international multi-language newspaper and media company affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement, based in the United States. The newspaper is part of the Epoch Media Group, which also operates New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television. The Epoch Times has websites in 35 countries but is blocked in mainland China.
The Epoch Times opposes the Chinese Communist Party, promotes far-right politicians in Europe, and backs President Donald Trump in the U.S.; a 2019 report by NBC News showed it to be the second-largest funder of pro-Trump Facebook advertising after the Trump campaign. The Epoch Media Group’s news sites and YouTube channels have spread conspiracy theories such as QAnon and anti-vaccination propaganda. The organization frequently promotes other Falun Gong affiliated groups, such as the performing arts company, Shen Yun.
This Pro-Trump YouTube Network Sprang Up Just After He Lost
A group of channels connected to the Epoch Times is pumping out hoaxes and lies without identifying their connections to the right-wing newspaper.Craig SilvermanBuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on January 8, 2021, at 3:56 p.m.
A network of YouTube channels connected to the pro-Trump media outlet Epoch Times launched after Election Day as part of a disinformation campaign to keep President Donald Trump in office. Only one of the channels discloses its ties to the newspaper, which traffics in conspiracy theories and has become one of the president’s staunchest media allies.
Hours after a mob of Trump supporters violently occupied the Capitol Wednesday, the host of one channel, Eye Opener With Michael Lewis, went live on YouTube to lie about the coup attempt, election fraud, and antifa.
“There is mounting evidence to show that an old Communist tactic was used here,” said Lewis, dressed in a matching bow tie and suspenders. “These people instigated the crowd and stirred up the people into a fervor … It looks to be antifa from early reports.”
None of this is true. But it is standard fare for Lewis’s channel. Since its creation on Nov. 10, 2020, it’s been a clearinghouse for election disinformation propagated by Trump, his attorneys, and conspiracy theorists. It’s working: Eye Opener gained more than 200,000 subscribers and more than 11.6 million views on Youtube in less than two months.
The channel’s About page portrays it as an independent effort by Lewis “and a few friends” who “felt like truth was dying.” In reality, Eye Opener is one of seven newly launched channels connected to the Epoch Times and Falun Gong, a religious movement the Chinese government labeled a cult and banned in 1999.
The YouTube channels have spread lies about voting technology companies, votes being flipped from Trump to Biden, disappearing USB drives, suspicious servers in Germany, and the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville. Since November, they’ve attracted more than 1.1 million subscribers and tens of millions of views.
After being contacted by BuzzFeed News, YouTube removed “several” videos from the channels because they violated the site’s Presidential Election Integrity policy, according to Farshad Shadloo, the site’s head of policy communications.
With Roman Balmakov, which launched Nov. 18 and has close to 420,000 subscribers. Its host is featured in Epoch Times YouTube ads, and his channel displays an Epoch Times logo. Three other YouTube channel hosts, Scott Goulet, Brendon Fallon, and Trevor Loudon, are current or former contributors to the Epoch Times, but do not disclose that. Another, David Zhang, has been promoted multiple times by Epoch Times Facebook pages as well as those run by a related operation, NTD News.