At first glance, the websites Conservative Edition News and Liberal Edition News have only one thing in common: Both have been carefully curated to inflame America’s culture wars.
Conservative Edition News is a repository of stories guaranteed to infuriate the American right. Its recent headlines include “Austin sex-ed curriculum teaches kids how to obtain an abortion” and “HuffPost writer considers Christianity ‘dangerous.’”
On Liberal Edition News, readers are fed a steady diet of content guaranteed to drive liberal voters further left or to wring a visceral response from moderates. One recent story singled out an Italian youth soccer coach who called Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist, a “whore.”
The sites are the work of Ken LaCorte, the former Fox News executive who was accused of killing a story about President Trump’s affair with Stormy Daniels, the pornographic film actress, before the 2016 election.
Their content is written by a network of young Macedonians in Veles, a sleepy riverside town that was home to a collection of writers who churned out disinformation during the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Among Mr. LaCorte’s network was one writer who helped peddle a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton had ties to a pedophile ring.
Until now, it was unclear who was behind the sites. But an investigation by The New York Times and researchers at Nisos, a security firm in Virginia, found that they are among several sites owned by Mr. LaCorte that push inflammatory items — stories, petitions and the occasional conspiracy theory — to the American public.
While big tech companies like Google and Twitter are trying to distance themselves from divisive politics by restricting or banning political ads, Mr. LaCorte’s websites are a reminder that there is a cottage industry of small sites happy to stoke passions on both sides of the political aisle and cash in on that anger. [Continue reading…]