(An earlier version of this opinion piece appeared in the Halifax Examiner “Morning File” of January 15, 2021.)
The “sample copy” of the newspaper landed innocently enough in our house.
On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, Canada Post delivered a “complimentary” issue of The Epoch Times right to our door in rural northern Nova Scotia.
It came with a “limited-time offer” for a special subscription deal to what looked – if one knew no better – like a normal newspaper.
I was one of those, unaware that in the past year, investigative journalists had revealed The Epoch Times to be a “shamelessly pro-Trump paper,” and a “global propaganda machine” that offers a “mix of alternative facts and conspiracy theories that has won it far-right acolytes around the world.”
A 2017 study in Germany found that The Epoch Times “disseminates antidemocratic false news and conspiracy theories, incites hatred against migrants and indirectly advertises for the AfD,” the country’s far-right political party.
Yet the masthead of the newspaper makes The Epoch Times sound benign as a newborn babe, a paper that stays “outside of political interests,” and is “dedicated to seeking the truth through insightful and independent journalism.”
Recipients of the free copy are invited to take advantage of a “$1 first month trial offer.” The “best deal” subscription is six months at $3.43 a week, or $89 plus tax. Subscribers get a weekly paper with 40 pages in four sections.
The Epoch Times, says the masthead, has readers in 36 countries and 22 languages, with a Canadian English version that has been operating for 16 years, with a “loyal readership” in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton.
As for its origins, it says only that it was founded in 2000 by “Chinese expats in North America.”
As I said, benign.
Or so the mysterious people behind The Epoch Times would have us believe.
Dig a little, however, and the paper looks anything but benign.