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Their worst crimes, sadly, are not prosecutable.

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In case you missed this extraordinary story: A highly visible “news organization” that is a key backer of Donald Trump and continuous source of disinformation turns out to be… run by criminals

Here are quick details: 

The Epoch Times, a strange publication that, backed by a religious cult, started small and grew explosively into a behemoth of disinformation, was involved with large-scale money laundering.

The CFO and unnamed members of his “Make Money Online” team are charged with money laundering and bank fraud between 2020 and 2024. The transnational scheme involved using cryptocurrency to buy crime proceeds — fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits and prepaid debit cards — at a discount and depositing the money into bank accounts opened with stolen personal identification, then transferring the money into Epoch Times accounts. This stratagem had the effect of hiding the criminal activities that generated the funds in the first place. 

But their worst crimes, sadly, are not prosecutable: their unconscionable spreading of disinformation on deadly diseases, and deadly climate change, and their propagandistic promotion of the man whose rule would perpetuate these possibly fatal conditions.  

And their reach is wide and deep. The Epoch Times was the second-largest funder of pro-Trump Facebook advertising after the Trump campaign itself — until Facebook banned it in 2019. As NBC News put it, “By hiding its multimillion-dollar dark money ad spend, the organization bypassed Facebook’s political advertising transparency rules.”  Yet the ads continued to run, but under other names — e.g., Honest Paper, Patriots of America, Pure American Journalism — until they, too, were disabled.  

I know these maniacs — to whose madness there is, unfortunately, a determined method — because they fill my inbox with constant, grotesque lies on a nonstop, turbocharged basis. I’ve never seen anything like it, and, given what I see daily, that’s saying a lot. 

Woman, MAGA, Epoch Times

Stop the Steal. Photo credit: ATTRIBUTION_GOES_HERE

I bring up the Epoch Times indictment as a coda to last week’s examination of the criminal mindset increasingly taking over the Republican Party and a significant portion of the populace. 

This week only underlined that point: One of America’s two political parties has turned largely into a refuge for those inclined toward committing illegal, immoral, and unethical acts — or at least refusing to speak openly against them.  

Committing crimes, cheating, lying, stealing, harming others is… absolutely fine. Even to be admired. High five! Laugh. Drinks all around. 

The criminal mindset and complete lack of a moral compass expand into a kind of gleeful lunacy that also punishes the perps, who cannot see beyond short-term, ill-gotten gains. 

For the rest of us, it feels like being strapped into the back seat of a car being driven at high speed by Thelma and Louise.

Like their refusal to take any action on climate change, a “policy” their hero Trump just promised big donors from the fossil fuel industry would be a hallmark of any future Trump administration. 

Consider this news item: 

The planet just marked a “shocking” new milestone, enduring 12 consecutive months of unprecedented heat, according to new data from Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitoring service. Every single month from June 2023 to May 2024 was the world’s hottest such month on record, Copernicus data showed.

Right now, temperatures in the western US are reaching over 20 degrees above average. (In some places, even 30 degrees above normal.)

And planet-warming carbon dioxide is at the highest level ever measured

The vast majority of climate scientists — 97 percent — say that humans are causing global warming and climate change.


And here are some grim statistics that show what we’re up against: 

  • A lot of people believe God is in charge of the climate. To be specific: Evangelicals (29 percent), Protestants in general (20 percent), and Republicans (23 percent). Some of them believe climate change is happening, but think it’s not a serious problem — because God is in control of it.
  • Among the straight-out deniers, 59 percent believe climate change is a conspiracy theory or hoax.
  • What correlates with these attitudes on climate change, in order of strength: (1) political affiliation (far right), (2) level of education (less than college), (3) COVID-19 vaccination rates (low), (4) carbon intensity of the regional economy (high), and (5) income (low).
  • Re perception:  Republicans are less likely than Democrats (58 percent vs. 79 percent) to report that their community has experienced extreme weather — droughts, intense storms, and wildfires — even when they live in the same region.

But here’s what The Epoch Times would have you believe: “Meteorologists, Scientists Explain Why There Is ‘No Climate Emergency.’”

This makes these people guilty of criminal disinformation. 

They even try to make you question what you see with your own eyes: “Jan. 6 Capitol Hill Security Footage Challenges Key Narratives.”

Also, we see them busy lying about all kinds of other things — the election, vaccines, COVID-19 — and spreading the grotesque claims of QAnon.  

And here’s a good one: their exposé on — let’s see if I’ve got this straight — how Biden plans to take 30 percent of America’s land out of production, forcing farmers off their lands, in concert with a global war on farmers, and, as a solution to climate change, force people to eat bugs. They ask, “Why are world leaders and even celebrities suddenly pushing edible bugs?” Now we know!

Oh, and they say a Jewish mob controls the world — including, some of their cohort claim, with “space lasers” causing major fires. 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., always available for his disinformation cameo, says The Epoch Times is among his most trusted news sources: “They’re very courageous and it’s real journalism.” 

The Epoch Times’s mission, according to tax filings, is — and I love this — independent journalism, “outside of political interests and the pursuit of profit, for the public benefit and to be truly responsible to society.”  


The criminal levels of dishonesty exhibited by The Epoch Times are, unsurprisingly, similar to that captured in the emails the Trump campaign sends out. For example, this one, which I just received:

I’d go to jail AGAIN AND AGAIN if that’s what it took to Save America.

So, not only is he a criminal, but he takes himself and his crime — which had zero to do with “saving America” and everything to do with self-interest — and wraps them in the flag. 

This headlong embrace of criminality is at the heart of what ails this great land. We don’t seem to have settled on a single theme for the November elections, the one thought that sums it all up. I’ll suggest one: 

“Don’t vote for a criminal. And try not to be one, either.”  

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  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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