Over the past few months, I have seen several articles posted on Facebook from www.ConservativeTribune.com. That is not surprising since the majority of the people I know are devout, card carrying conservatives. However, it is surprising that a website that claims to be a legitimate news source often fails to report the whole story – facts are sometimes glossed over in favor of the conservative views of the writer. The website is an online conservative magazine, so a certain amount of bias is expected, but when an article serves no purpose but to agitate and prey on threadbare emotions, the reporting turns from legitimate journalism to yellow journalism (journalism based upon sensationalism, exaggeration, and eye-catching headlines). I realize bias free news is almost unheard of these days; reporters, especially on the national level, tend to be opinionated celebrities rather than non-biased journalists. They have forgotten that the purpose of reporting the news is to provide information not to agitate and entertain. News should be about the facts and only the facts, and when it is not, it becomes a tool for deception and lies. Presenting news – conservative or liberal – based on missing or misleading information and sensationalism is not news but propaganda.
Is Conservative Tribune propaganda? Maybe, maybe not, but to be fair and get a clearer picture, I spent several days researching the website to find out. I traced it back to its beginning in 2009, read articles, and looked at the people writing those articles. What I found was very interesting.
Origins and History:
Based on web domain records, in January 2009, the website was founded as Conservative and Republican Party Blog: America’s Newspaper. The website changed names in May 2009 to Conservative news, views and commentary. By September 2009, the name changed to Conservative Tribune, but the website became inactive and was suspended in February 2010. In October 2013, under the ownership and leadership of Shaun Connell, an Arkansas web product designer and businessman, the website resurfaced as Conservative Tribune: Defending Our Conservative Values. In January 2014, the website changed names once again to Conservative Tribune: Small Government, Free Markets, and Traditional Values. Another partial name change occurred in August 2014, this time the website became known as Conservative Tribune: In Defense of Western Civilization. The website became known simply as Conservative Tribune in 2015 when Connell sold it to Liftable Media, a company owned by Floyd Brown, co-founder of the advocacy group Citizens United.
Writing for Conservative Tribune:
By the website’s own admission, individuals do not need experience as a writer or a degree of any kind. If a person can write a coherent sentence and is willing to write what the management tells them to write, they qualify to write for the Tribune. Here are the credentials needed to write for Conservative Tribune as outlined by the website:
“Details for our writers:
- We pick the topics for you.
- We write the headlines for you.
- We pick the sources you’ll link to.
- You just have to write articles with 250 – 400 words of original content to explain the news story from an ultra-conservative viewpoint.”
News printed in Conservative Tribune is “ultra-conservative” biased, and they are very open about it. In other words, nothing that contradicts the website’s “ultra conservative” view will be allowed on the website regardless of the facts. Therefore, readers can expect to receive only the information that supports and promotes a conservative viewpoint.
Writers for the Conservative Tribune:
Over the years Conservative Tribune has published writers from Brutus, of Shakespeare fame, to staff writers using pseudonyms, and to freelance writers with legitimate writing credits. A few writers who have contributed to the Tribune include:
Some of these names have historical significance such as Wilmot Proviso, which was an 1846 proposal to ban slavery in land acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War. However, regardless of historical significance, news journalists using any name but their own should raise a red flag for readers. If a journalist is telling the truth or presenting all the facts, why is there a need for an alias? It is fairly common for a fiction writer to use a pseudonym or alias, but a news journalists should not need an alias unless, maybe, he/she is writing fiction rather than truth. For an online magazine that claims to tell the truth, this practice raises questions of credibility.
Articles Published by Conservative Tribune:
Articles written for Conservative Tribune are, as the guidelines state, “ultra-conservative.” The site, by its own admission, may contain copyrighted material but not necessarily with the copyright owner’s permission. The management for the site claims the use of such unauthorized copyrighted material constitutes “fair use” as provided under the Copyright Law of the United States. This claim of “fair use” may be a contributing factor as to why so many authors writing for the website utilize a pseudonym/alias, or it may simply be a sign of lazy journalism. Either way it is a questionable and possibly illegal use of other journalists’ work.
As for being a real news magazine, the site is indeed real, but that doesn’t mean the reader will get all the facts in the news reported on the website. In other words, the website reports newsworthy and marginally newsworthy stories, but if the reader is a discerning individual who likes to make up his/her own mind, it would be wise to consult other sources to validate the stories first. Using misleading, emotionally charged, headlines that fall short of alignment to the content of an article is also common (Remember the guidelines for writers: “We write the headlines for you). Readers of Conservative Tribune need to understand they are not going to read anything on the website that may be damaging to the conservative cause. Articles are “ultra-conservative” biased!
Conservative Tribune Bottom Line:
There is nothing new or shocking about conservative or liberal media pushing their own agendas even if it means ignoring certain parts of a story. Both will tell their readers they exist to set the record straight or to tell the whole truth. Both prey on reader emotions and fears; they tell readers only want they want them to know and nothing more. In that respect, both are propaganda tools that are not above using bias and misleading information to publicize and promote their political cause or views.
George Upper, managing editor of Conservative Tribune, says it best, “We’ll tell you the truth as we see it.” Like children, they never lie – they simply tell only the part of the story they want readers to hear and know. Their job is to influence readers to think as they do, and keep readers emotionally engaged in their ideology. Their biggest enemy is a reader who thinks for himself! Conservatives and liberals alike are looking for followers, not leaders; they will tell you who should lead. Therefore, a word to the wise – always question any and everything you read online, especially if it screams conservative or liberal – both are in the propaganda business.
©Jack Linton, August 21, 2016