Coming to a screen near you: The Georgia Star News, a new conservative digital newspaper

The Georgia Star News

Georgians are about to get a new online news site aggressively pushing a conservative agenda.

With all eyes on the January 5, 2021 elections in Georgia that could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate, Star News Digital Media, a right-leaning collection of five digital newspapers, obviously sees an opportunity to grab some eyeballs, revenue and influence with a new product, The Georgia Star News.

“…we are working hard to get The Georgia Star ready for launch later this week!,” Christina Botteri, Executive Editor of the online news sites, told me in an email today (Nov. 16, 2020).

Star News, based in Nashville, TN, launched its first title, The Tennessee Star, in February 2017. Its current digital news outlets include: The Virginia StarThe Ohio Star |The Michigan StarThe Tennessee Star and The Minnesota Sun.

A look at the Nov. 16, 2020 Virginia Star conveys the tone of all the Star News titles, with headlines such as:

·       The Empire Struck Back, but MAGA Will Strike Harder

·       Voting Software Was ‘Designed to Rig Elections,’ Trump Attorney Sidney Powell Tells Maria Bartiromo

·       Antifa/BLM Terrorists Viciously Attack Women, Children, and Elderly Following Saturday’s #MillionMAGAMarch

Further reflecting Star News’ leanings is a comment made in a Nov. 18, 2020 Virginia Star commentary by Conrad Black, a former media mogul who was jailed after being found guilty of conspiring with fellow executives to siphon off funds from the sale of media businesses. President Trump pardoned Black in May 2019 after he wrote a book praising the president.

“The Trump campaign to overthrow the political establishment may have stalled, but even if it is narrowly evicted from the White House, and even if the election result is not evidently based on fraudulent dumps of invalid ballots, Trump is not going away,” Black wrote in his commentary. “His following is unlikely to defect to anyone else, and so non-galvanizing a leader as Biden at the head of so fissiparous a coalition will not easily deflect the 73 million Trump voters or their formidable convener-in-chief from continuing the battle after no more of a hiatus than Trump’s enemies gave him four years ago.”

The CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Star News is Michael Patrick Leahy, an early tea party activist, Breitbart contributor and talk radio broadcaster.

In a 2018 Politico story, one of the company’s founders, Steve Gill, a conservative commentator and radio host, agreed that “Breitbart of Tennessee” would be a fair description of The Tennessee Star site.  Breitbart is a far-right syndicated news, opinion and commentary website. Gill left Star News in August 2019.

Steve Bannon – an outspoken rabble-rouser and one of the driving forces behind Breitbart – became Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President following Donald Trump’s election. He left the White House in August 2017, succumbing to power struggles with senior advisors to Trump.

Star News’ news sites are just one segment of a slew of rapidly expanding partisan outlets endeavoring to infiltrate our lives.

The Portland Courant, for example, looks like a legitimate news site serving Oregon. If you slide down to the bottom of the home page and click on “About,” you’ll discover it is put out by Metric Media LLC. 

New York Times investigation published on Oct. 18, 2020 found that Metric Media is “a fast-growing network of nearly 1,300 websites that aim to fill a void left by vanishing local newspapers across the country…The network, now in all 50 states, is built not on traditional journalism but on propaganda ordered up by dozens of conservative think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives and public-relations professionals.”

While Metric Media’s network is conservative, liberals are financing other “news” outlets such as Courier. This is a network of eight sites started by Acronym, a liberal political group that began covering local news in several states in 2019. Those sites, and others focused on North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, are part of the Courier Newsroom network

So get ready Georgians. You’re next. Star News has you squarely in its sights.

Addendum, Nov. 19, 2020

The Georgia Star News debuted on Nov. 19, 2020. The digital newspaper has no connection with The Georgia Star, which bills itself as “Northeast Florida’s, Oldest, Largest, Most Read African American Owned Newspaper” or with The Star-News, which serves McCall, Idaho and the mountain communities of West Central Idaho. 

Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog, has already criticized the site: “The organization’s explicit aim is to deliver pro-Trump propaganda to residents of battleground states, coating local news in the same grievance- and conspiracy-filled vernacular as is used by outlets like The Daily Caller and Breitbart.

And the beat goes on: the Clinton money muddle

Addendum, Sept. 6, 2016: Good to see the major media finally pick up on payments to Bill Clinton by Laureate Education for-profit schools company.

Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college

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Bill Clinton at the “Laureate Summit on Youth and Jobs at Universidad Europa in Madrid, Spain in May 2013

 

 

Conservative media screwed up last week….bad.

Hillary and Bill Clinton released their 2015 tax returns on Friday, Aug. 12. The Daily Caller, a conservative website, sensed blood when it reviewed the return and concluded that of the $1,042,000 in charitable contributions Hillary and Bill claimed, $1 million went to the high profile and controversial Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

With great fanfare, and obvious delight, The Daily Caller went on the attack, accusing the Clintons of self-dealing. Other conservative news sites gleefully repeated the story.

But they got it wrong.

The $1 million went, instead, to the Clinton Family Foundation, an entirely separate non-profit headquartered in Chappaqua, New York that was formed in 2002 and serves as a philanthropic vehicle for the Clinton family.

The liberal media exulted in the conservatives’ embarrassment. Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, said “An embarrassing misreading” of the Clintons’ tax returns (by the Daily Caller) …led to publication of an entire article based on a “false premise”.

But the story shouldn’t end there.

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If you dig deeper, you find that in addition to the $1 million that went to the Clinton Family Foundation in 2015, the Clintons donated $42,000 to Desert Classic Charities, which holds an annual PGA golf event in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. That organization turned right around and effectively returned the donation by giving $700,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. That was the Desert Classic Charities’ largest single contribution. Other than a $295.000 donation to the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, no other donation exceeded $25,000.

The Clinton Family Foundation hasn’t released its 2015 tax returns. However, according to its 2014 990-PF filing with the IRS, Bill and Hillary donated $3 million to the Family Foundation. It turned around and donated $1,865,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas, the original name of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Similar self-serving transfers occurred in 2013, when the Family Foundation made its single largest donation, $300,000, to the William J. Clinton Foundation and $5,000 to the Clinton Birthplace Foundation of Hope, Arkansas. In 2012, the Family Foundation donated $220,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, also its largest single contribution.

The Clinton’s 2015 tax filing also reveals that Bill Clinton earned about $1.7 million from a consulting business he created, WJC L.L.C. That included $1.1 million from Laureate Education, a for-profit education company, and $562,000 from Dubai-based GEMS Education, a for-profit operator of kindergarten-to-grade-12 schools, which says it has a network of 91 schools serving 250,000 students in over a dozen countries. Its only U.S. school is GEMS World Academy at 350 East South Water St. in Chicago.

Selling out as a corporate shill has rarely been so lucrative as it has been for ex-president Bill Clinton.

In 2010, he signed on to become an “Honorary Chancellor” for Laureate International Universities, part of Baltimore, MD-based Laureate Education Inc. Laureate grew out of the K-12 tutoring company, Sylvan Learning Systems, in 2004 when Sylvan was spun off.

The company was taken private in a $3.8 billion deal in 2007. Investors included KKR & Co., Soros Fund Management, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors, Citi Private Equity, Sterling Capital and others.

In Oct. 2015, the company, then $4.7 billion in debt, filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO), but it has run into headwinds.

In return for serving as a front man for the privately held company, Clinton collected $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014. Laureate also has made multi-million dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation. He resigned as honorary chancellor in April 2015, but has obviously found a way to keep making money off the relationship. It will be interesting to see whether Bill Clinton benefits financially if the IPO is successful.

As for GEMS, Bill Clinton has been taking money from that organization since he was appointed honorary chairman of GEMS’ philanthropic arm, the Varkey Foundation, in December 2010. Since then GEMS has paid him more than $5.625 million ($500,000 in 2011; $1.25 million in 2012; $1.75 million in 2013; $2.125 million in 2014; 2015 – NA)

Bill’s income from Laureate and GEMS is of particular interest because Hillary, following on Barack Obama’s policies, has promised to crack down on the for-profit education industry.

It’s also worth noting that the Clinton’s 2015 tax filing shows their income firmly entrenched them in the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers, far from the middle class on which Hillary Clinton says her presidential campaign is focused and far from when Hillary claimed she and Bill were broke after leaving the White House.

“We have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans,” Clinton said in an ABC TV interview in 2014.

I’ll say!

Addendum, Sept. 6, 2016: Gee, nice of the major media to finally pick up on the Laureate connection to the Clintons:

Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college

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