*In today’s episode of Head-to-Head, the Washington Post does the heavy lifting for us, exposing the Gateway Pundit as ground zero of fake news surrounding the 2020 election.
A story from August 8, 2023, featured the elements of a blockbuster crime saga: burner phones, semiautomatic weapons, silencers and bags of prepaid cash cards.
Hailed as a hero by MAGAts, Meisch knew the claims were false, and said so. “There were no fraudulent ballots,” Meisch said in an interview, “not a single one that anyone in my office was aware of.” And still the Gateway Pundit published the story three years after Meisch and her staff debunked the fraudulent claims.
That’s how the Gateway Pundit rolls: per WaPo, the Gateway Pundit has continued trumpeting disproven election fraud stories, even as it faces defamation suits over its coverage of the 2020 election. It has also taken its own legal action against fact-checkers, disinformation researchers and story subjects, as well as against social media, making it harder for those companies to crack down on fake news.
Sloven mouth-breather Steve Bannon credits Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft as “the best at creating a right-wing echo system.”
Bannon said Hoft is often one of the first to pick up a social media post or a local news story that other right-wing personalities then repeat and aggregate. He “isn’t afraid to take a leading edge where you don’t have all the facts but they are coming together,” Bannon explained. Once Gateway Pundit puts one of its signature all-caps headlines on a story,that provides what Bannon calls an “infrastructure” upon which his own podcast and other right-wing outlets and influencers can build.
Pro-Trump network OAN used Gateway Pundit and other sources, according to court documents and depositions in a defamation lawsuit brought by a Dominion Voting Systems executive.
“Check Gateway Pundit, Epoch Times and The Blaze right when you get in. … These are very helpful to find good OAN content,” read one Jan. 14, 2021, email to producers from the channel’s news director.
“Gateway Pundit’s articles were chopped-up sentences that were drawn from whatever crazy thing a Twitter user was saying about election denial,” the former producer, Marty Golingan, said in an interview, “and they would spin it with maximum outrage and reactionary emotion.”
One prominent conservative radio host, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of offending political allies, said in an interview that the site’s stories are “bull—-.”
In its almost two decades, Jim Hoft’s website has spewed bullshit on a wide range of topics. Some of those topics have included:
- Doubt about President Obama’s birth certificate.
- Survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were part of an anti-Trump plot.
- Spreading misinformation about the attack on Paul Pelosi.
- U.S. aid money for Ukraine is being laundered and going into the pockets of Democrats.
But the disinformation about the 2020 election has been prolific.
For instance, a random Twitter photo claiming to show 1,000 mail-in ballots found in a dumpster in Sonoma County — and captioned, “Big if true,” — turned into this headline:
“EXCLUSIVE: California Man Finds THOUSANDS of Unopened Ballots in Garbage Dumpster — Workers Quickly Try to Cover Them Up.”
Sonoma County responded to debunk the claim, saying the ballots were discarded from the 2018 election according to California law.
Gateway Pundit’s update read: “The County of Sonoma put out a statement saying the ballots were from 2018. The county says the ballots were already opened. You can judge for yourself.”
Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss are awaiting trial in their lawsuit against the Gateway Pundit.
The Gateway Pundit published 58 articles portrying Freeman and Moss as “crooked” operatives who counted “illegal ballots from a suitcase stashed under a table!” The women say Gateway Pundit devastated their lives and reputations, and instigated a deluge of threats leaving them in fear.
Hoft countersued, stating the women were trying to drive the Gateway Pundit out of business. The countersuit was dismissed.
Rudy Giuliani’s attorney told jurors that Gateway Pundit had been “patient zero” for the false claims.
Ann Meisch, the Muskegon City Clerk, fears she may come under the same kind of attack when people learn that she doesn’t believe she uncovered massive voter fraud in her city.
That August 8 make-believe Gateway Pundit story was promoted by Bannon, Lou Dobbs, and Right-Side Broadcasting. And for the next 10 days the Gateway Pundit published another 40 pieces about the Muskegon story, and was also picked up by podcaster Dan Bongino, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and blogger Jack Posobiec.
After 12 days, the Michigan AG’s office issued a statement responding to the report, citing its “false claims of election law violations.” The statement said numerous state agencies had investigated and none had uncovered evidence of successful fraudulent registrations because they had all been “intercepted and not filed into the state’s voter database.”
On the same day, Hoft appeared on Bannon’s podcast, calling Nessel’s statement “confirmation” of the Gateway Pundit story.
Trump picked up the story himself and posted it on Truth Social where it was reposted 3,300 times.
Gateway Pundit “slanted the story to make it seem that the attempt to interfere with the election was successful,” Karen Buie, the Muskegon County clerk, said in an interview. “There was an attempt. You can’t negate that. But it failed because we have systems in place.”
“We haven’t yet seen the full impact of the Gateway Pundit story,” said Meisch. “We won’t see that until the next [presidential] election.”
But the Gateway Pundit has seen its traffic uptick from less than 700,000 hits before August to 1.5 million.