Donald Trump’s “official” super PAC has spent more than $25 million since last year to get the president re-elected. Now it’s trying a new tactic: the group, America First Action, has launched a news website.
The site is called the American Herald, and it describes itself as “a conservative news platform designed to bring you all the news the liberal media doesn’t want you to know. We commit to cover national issues that impact all Americans, not just what fits the left’s political agenda.”
The American Herald’s formation comes during an election cycle in which Trump’s political machine has sought to construct its own media infrastructure to combat and circumvent what it sees as endemic hostility from the political press. “Stop being told what to think,” the American Herald’s tagline declares.
Quietly launched in June, the American Herald is devoted to putting a Trumpian spin on the headlines of the day, then blasting out those headlines in emails, social media posts, and digital advertisements. America First has already spent thousands of dollars to promote the group’s “stories” through Facebook and Instagram pages for both the America First and the American Herald. It’s spent thousands more promoting the site in Google ads.
While those paid ads disclose that they were paid for by America First, no such disclaimer appears on the American Herald’s Facebook page itself. And while its website also includes the legally required paid-for-by disclaimer at the bottom of the page, its articles are designed to read like standard—if clearly agenda-driven—conservative news content.
Trump’s campaign has blasted out American Herald content as it would any other news website that published favorable stories about the president. And the website has even “covered” America First with third-person references that hide the fact that the super PAC and the news website are one and the same.
America First is far from the only political group to attempt to leverage ostensible news content in the service of an explicitly political agenda. Democratic groups in particular have built up a large infrastructure this election cycle of stand-alone, ostensibly independent news organizations that just happen to cover the very political contests and candidates that their explicitly political patrons are targeting.
Indeed, the American Herald closely resembles a “news” site created in 2018 by American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC. That outlet’s website contains all the legally required disclosure language, but simply says its “mission is to empower the public through reporting that exposes corruption and wrongdoing by the powerful” through “fast, hard-hitting investigations into the pressing issues.”
Even in that politically saturated news environment, the American Herald stands out due to its direct linkage to a major arm of the president’s political machine. While America First is technically independent of the Trump campaign, the campaign has officially endorsed the group, the president has attended America First fundraising events, and the Trump campaign has rented its behemoth email list to the super PAC.
So far, America First has purchased ads promoting the American Herald through the “news” outlet’s own Facebook page, targeting states including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan. None of them linked to the outlet’s website, and instead simply asked for those who saw the ads to like the American Herald’s Facebook page.
But the “news” site already appears to be hitting some roadblocks. America First has purchased hundreds of ads on its own page linking to American Herald content, and some of those ads have been removed due to unspecified violations of Facebook’s advertising policies, according to the platform’s political ad archive. And it appears that the American Herald Twitter account was also suspended at some point in the past week.
An America First spokesperson didn’t respond to inquiries about the site—or its spate of social media mishaps.