By Richard Bell
We have been getting questions from readers about the unsolicited appearance in their mailboxes of an 8-page version of the newspaper called The Epoch Times, claiming that the Chinese government was responsible for the COVID-19 virus. We had also been seeing a sudden burst of advertising videos on Facebook urging people to subscribe to the paper. There are news reports about this 8-page subscription solicitation showing up in mailboxes elsewhere in Canada.
In response to these questions, here’s a quick overview of the origins of The Epoch Times, its highly conservative politics, and its recent embrace of Donald Trump.
The Epoch Times is an arm of Falun Gong, a religious movement founded in China several decades ago that is highly critical of the Chinese government. The Chinese government has banned Falun Gong, and there have been periodic stories in Western media about what spokespeople for Falun Gong call religious persecution in China.
The Epoch Times itself was founded in 2000, and was a fairly sleepy operation until recently, when it began ramping up its presence online while becoming a cheerleader for Donald Trump’s presidency. In 2019, the paper ran thousands of ads on Facebook supporting Trump. Facebook finally banned The Epoch Times in August 2019 from advertising on the site after an NBC News expose of the paper’s funding of these Trump ads.
In addition to pushing conspiracy theories about COVID-19, the paper is opposed to communism, homosexuality, feminism, and pop music.