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House candidate David Richter. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Richter hits Kim over faux news site’s positive coverage

Backed by Democratic dark money, Courier Newsroom puts thousands into digital ads backing congressman’s re-election

By Nikita Biryukov, August 17 2020 4:59 pm

David Richter slammed Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton) over a faux-news website working to boost his and other moderate Democrats’ electoral prospects.

“I have seen quite a few positive Andy Kim articles posted recently on Facebook from a website called Courier Newsroom,” Richter said. “After a little investigating, it became clear that the site was not affiliated with the local Courier-Post newspaper but was actually a fake news website that is being paid to promote Democratic candidates,” said Richter.

Courier Newsroom is a network of online outlets backed by Acronym, a 501(c)(4) non-profit that often coordinates digital media campaigns supporting issues backed by Democrats.

Though the site’s content is largely fact-based — all of its stories featuring Kim appear to have been written using press releases issued by the first-term congressman’s office — and though Courier Newsroom divulges its affiliation with Acronym, information about the group’s funding remains scarce.

In February, Gabby Deutch of Newsguard, a non-partisan firm that reviews news sites for misinformation, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that “because it obscures its funders and agenda, Courier’s ‘news’ operation leads to the same result as conspiracy theories or outright lies: Readers are deceived.”

“I call on Andy Kim and his campaign to immediately discontinue using this ‘fake news’ promoter and apologize to the voters for trying to deceive them,” Richter said.

There’s no indication that Kim played a part in orchestrating the site’s favorable coverage.

Still, Courier is providing Kim with more than just good press. The firm has put thousands of dollars behind Facebook ads boosting its positive stories about Kim since December. Three such ads, collectively worth between $16,000 and $18,599, are still running on Facebook.

The group spent up to $27,000 on such ads in June and up to $28,000 in April.

Courier has put in more than $1.7 million to digital ads since May 2018, including a little more than $50,000 in the past week.

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