On Wednesday afternoon, the Media Research Center blasted out a call to action. The liberals at CNN, the group told its email subscribers, were spreading coronavirus misinformation to try to damage Donald Trump. The conservative media watchdog hoped to enlist its supporters to call and email the network and send auto-generated tweets to a handful of its on-air personalities demanding that they stop weaponizing fears over the virus.
A few hours earlier, subscribers to the same MRC email list received a message with a very different tenor: The rapidly spreading virus, they were assured, was fueling a massive financial swindle by the federal government that would soon wipe out average Americans’ retirement savings. The solution, the email added, was to buy a copy of a dubious financial-planning guide that would spell out the necessary steps to “prevent the robbery they are planning on your accounts.”
The email peddling that financial advice came from one of MRC’s advertisers, and the Virginia-based nonprofit group was sure to add that it reflected “the opinions and representations of our advertiser alone, and not necessarily the opinion or editorial positions of the Media Research Center.”