Read about The Epoch Times at the end of the page.
The publisher of The Epoch Times, a stridently pro-Trump publication with a flair for conspiracy theories and links to Chinese dissidents, nearly quadrupled its revenue during the first three years of the administration.
Why it matters: The nonprofit Epoch Times Association’s 2019 revenue of $15.5 million, up from $3.9 million in 2016, shows how lucrative news coverage catering to the president’s most fervent supporters could be — and will likely remain even after he leaves office.
- Founded in 2000, The Epoch Times has ties to members of the Falun Gong, a Chinese religious movement that’s been persecuted by the country’s ruling Communist Party.
- In its annual tax filings with the IRS, the Epoch Times Association says its “purposes are inspired by the founders’ personal experiences in Communist China and their efforts to bring honest, uncensored news despite oppression and violence.”
The big picture: The Epoch Times has doggedly written stories indulging some of the most popular conspiracy theories floated by President Trump and his most ardent supporters.
- The paper devoted whole sections to “Spygate,” the term it used to describe a sweeping conspiracy to undermine Trump through investigations into Russian election meddling.
- Congressional Republicans cited Epoch Times coverage in defending against impeachment charges brought against the president in late 2019.
- More recently, the paper has floated baseless allegations that the Chinese government manipulated votes in the 2020 election to the benefit of President-elect Joe Biden.
The Epoch Times Association’s 2019 finances point to a reader base that grew rapidly during Trump’s presidency. While the group accepts tax-deductible contributions, the vast majority of its revenue in 2019 came from subscriptions and ad sales.
- The group reported $7 million in subscription revenue, $2.7 million in advertising income and $3.7 million itemized as “web and media income.”
- 21 donors gave the group from $9,000 to $54,000 each. The identities of the donors are redacted in the copy of the tax filing provided by its attorney today.
- Those accounts had purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars in Facebook ads targeting Trump supporters with subscription offers.
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.