The California Republican

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The California Republican is a website that purports to be a "Media/News Company" promising "the best of US, California, and Central Valley news, sports, and analysis."[1] The website is "paid for by the Devin Nunes Campaign Committee," the official campaign for U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (R-22).[2]

Since 2015, Nunes has served as the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. According to Politico, Nunes is a "relentless critic of the media [who] has found a way around the often unflattering coverage of his role in the Trump-Russia investigation — by operating his own partisan news outlet." [1] His campaign funding a news source which publishes favorable coverage has led some to question "the power to self-publish and to bypass the mainstream media" noting that it may hold a "special appeal" for a lawmaker who has long complained about 'fake news'. [1]

The website is "billed as a local news site" according to CNN, it "features headlines ranging from national politics stories to state and local matters and college football. Many of the posts link out to conservative sites like National Review and The Federalist." [3]

"There are also stories on California politics, with some sports reporting on the Fresno State football team," according to New York Daily News. [4]

In "small print at the bottom of the site" there is a disclaimer that the site is "Paid for by the Devin Nunes Campaign Committee." [1] Likewise, there is a disclaimer in the "about" section on The California Republican Facebook page stating that it is "Paid for by the Devin Nunes Campaign Committee." [5] But, no disclaimer is seen from the landing page on the site's Facebook page. As of June 2018, no news outlet has confirmed a Twitter page as official.

News and Controversies

Many outlets remarked at the time of The California Republican's discovery that this was a way to deal with negative press coverage, fitting with the recent rise of the term "Fake News."

Per Politico, "The power to self-publish and to bypass the mainstream media would hold special appeal for a lawmaker who has long complained about 'fake news' and 'anti-Trump, anti-Republican” coverage ... Nunes has come under intense scrutiny for his handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election." [1]

The New York Times notes that "There are many ways elected officials can respond to criticism from their local newspaper... Nunes [who was, at the time, at] the center of the storm over the release of a classified memorandum challenging the F.B.I. investigation of President Trump and Russia, has come up with a response particularly fitting for our times: He has created his own news site." [6]

Nunes’ congressional Chief of Staff Anthony Ratekin, according to Politico, declined to comment on The California Republican website, stating in an email, "until Politico retracts its multitude of fake stories on Congressman Nunes, we will not go on the record" [1]

The California Republican has been compared to other partisan funded news outlets. Politico noted, "a growing trend of conservative political-messaging sites with names that mimic those of mainstream news organizations and whose favored candidates then tout their stories and endorsements as if they were from independent journalists. It’s a phenomenon that spans the country from northern New England, where the anonymous Maine Examiner wreaked havoc on a recent mayoral election, all the way out to California, where Rep. Devin Nunes launched — as reported by POLITICO— his own so-called news outlet, the California Republican."

Politico went on to characterize an "example of an anonymous site gaining traction by presenting itself as a legitimate news source. In September, The Associated Press called out the Republican Governors Association for operating what appeared to be a news site, called The Free Telegraph, without disclosing its involvement." [7] [8]

Funding

According to Politico, "the outlet includes stories dating from mid-2017, when it was registered by a Fresno-area communications consultant, Alex Tavlian. Nunes’ campaign has paid Tavlian’s company, Sultana Media, $7,773 since July for 'advertising; digital advertising management.'"[1]

Reached Saturday, Tavlian said his company registered several domains for Nunes’ campaign. But he said he did not manage “The California Republican” and was unfamiliar with it." [1]

The Devin Nunes Campaign Committee's top five funders in the 2017-18 election cycle as of June 2018 are:

  • General Atomics who gave a total of $32,500
  • Oracle Corp who gave a total of $29,550
  • Harris Farms who gave a total of $17,800
  • Capitol Counsel who gave a total of $17,500
  • Marich Inc who gave a total of $16,200 [9]

KochPAC contributed $6,500 to the Devin Nunes Campaign Committee. [10]

Staff

Articles published at The California Republican appear to all share the same byline, "Republican Wire." [2]

Contact Information

Website: http://carepublican.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carepublicancom

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 David Siders Devin Nunes creates his own alternative news site, Politico, Feb 11 2018
  2. 2.0 2.1 The California Republican Home Page, The California Republican, accessed June 1 2018
  3. Eli Watkins Devin Nunes' campaign has a 'news' site, CNN, Feb 11 2018
  4. Terrence Cullen Devin Nunes’ campaign has been running its own news website, Daily News, Feb 11 2018
  5. The California Republican About, Facebook, Accessed June 5 2018
  6. Adam Nagourney and Matt Stevens California Today: How One Congressman Is Responding to Bad Press Image, The New York Times, Feb 14 2018
  7. Jason Schwartz and Shawn Musgrove Kelli Ward touts endorsement from fake-news site, Politico, Feb 14 2018
  8. Bill Barrow GOP governors launch ‘news’ site critics call propaganda, The Associated Press, Sept 19 2017
  9. Open Secrets Rep. Devin Nunes- California District 22, Center for Responsive Politics, Accessed June 4 2018
  10. Election Databot [ https://projects.propublica.org/itemizer/filing/1225820/schedule/sb Expenditures by Koch Industries Inc Political Action Committee (Kochpac) for Filing 12258202], ProPublica, Accessed June 4 2018