RealClear Media, the company behind the nonpartisan news site RealClearPolitics, has been running a popular far-right Facebook page called Conservative Country since 2014, The Daily Beast first reported Monday night.
The page, which boasts more than 800,000 followers, is packed with memes celebrating President Donald Trump and promoting conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. One post shows four guns pointed toward a door with the caption, “Just sitting here waiting on Beto.” Another shows teen climate activist Greta Thunberg appearing to pose with the liberal philanthropist George Soros, often vilified in right-wing memes, in a doctored photo. One falsely suggests Obama is a Muslim.
Nothing on the page appears to link it to RealClear Media; its “about” section claims the page was founded in 1776 and features a fake quote that has been attributed to George Washington.
The discovery throws into question RealClearPolitics’ reputation as an accurate source of information ahead of the 2020 election. Founded in 2000, the site aggregates politics news from a variety of credible sources. It is best known for polling aggregation, often cited in The New York Times and other major outlets.
The Conservative Country page was once touted as the Facebook presence of a short-lived website with the same name, conservativecountry.net. But the social media page predates the website by around three years, The Daily Beast noted.
The outlet linked the defunct right-wing website to RealClear through interviews with former staffers and by noticing that the Conservative Country website used Real Clear Media’s Google Analytics tracking code. Some of the site’s images were hosted on a WordPress account belonging to RealClear’s chief technology officer.
Conservativecountry.net employed professional writers to churn out content for about eight months in 2017, The Daily Beast reported.
RealClear Media’s chief technology officer, Anand Ramanujan, confirmed that the company was behind conservativecountry.net, saying the site “was created as part of an effort to understand the flow of traffic from social media — particularly Facebook — to political websites.” Ramanujan said in a statement to The Daily Beast that there are “no other non-RealClear titles out there.”