Chicago, IL – In case you missed it, the Washington Post just released new information on how Illinois Republicans used a password-protected website to spread their messaging in pink-slime papers disguised as local news.
Using a portal called “Lumen,” Republican candidates and lawmakers were able to submit content that was often “published verbatim” to Local Government Information Services (LGIS) websites, and distributed in mailers designed to look like local newspapers. These newspapers deceptively padded their skewed stories with filler pieces on local sports and real estate to mislead recipients into reading their partisan propaganda as fact.
The Washington Post article reveals discussions between Brian Timpone of LGIS and Trump campaign officials to expand this strategy in 2024, specifically targeting communities with dwindling local news infrastructures.
“If Dan Proft and Brian Timpone’s deceptive publishing practices continue to spread in Illinois and across the nation, not only our media ecosystem but our democratic institutions as a whole are at stake,” said DPI Executive Director Ben Hardin. “Voters deserve access to accurate information, and candidates and lawmakers of any party should be holding themselves to a higher standard. To knowingly engage with a platform designed to mislead readers is an abhorrent breach of public trust.”
- Screenshots show that the password-protected portal, called Lumen, allowed users to pitch stories; provide interview subjects as well as questions; place announcements and submit op-eds to be “published verbatim” in any of about 30 sites that form part of the Illinois-focused media network
- The use of the tactic in Illinois has caught the attention of allies of former president Donald Trump, who have discussed the potential of expanding the operation
- The discussions suggest thatIllinois could be a testing ground for much broader work leading into 2024. One person familiar with his comments said the conglomerate could seek to form “tens of thousands” of new websites.
- The goal, one of the people briefed on the project said, is to create “center-right websites” in communities where there is “little or no local news.”
One of the reasons candidates went to Local Government Information Services outlets for coverage was to get Uihlein’s attention, said two high-level GOP aides in Illinois. “Everyone gets told Dick Uihlein reads these papers religiously,” said one of the aides.