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EXCLUSIVE: Facebook’s Fact-Checker ‘Lead Stories’ is Staffed by Exclusively Democrat Party Donors, CNN Staffers, And ‘Defeat Trump’ Activists

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Facebook’s “fact-checking” partner – an opaque outfit by the name of ‘Lead Stories’ – is rife with left-wing bias, including recurring staff donations to Democratic party candidates, using the Democrat Party-linked ActBlue donation portal.

On Wednesday, in a clear conflict of interest, Lead Stories flagged a viral National Pulse investigation into Black Lives Matter, Joe Biden, and Act Blue as “party false.”

The National Pulse stands by its reporting, and upon contacting Lead Stories’ Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke by telephone, were told he would not discuss the matter, and that the only way to appeal was by e-mail. No e-mail address was given.

Now, a National Pulse investigation reveals the dubious claims to neutrality from within Lead Stories, and raises the question as to why a partisan outfit is allowed to police news on social media?

Lead Stories – which came into being just before the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election – counts up to a quarter of its staff, including its Chairman and co-founder, as recurring donors to Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. No donations – per the FEC – were made to Republican candidates.

At least 50 percent of Lead Stories staff have been affiliated with the left-wing news network CNN, with a total of over 100 years experience at CNN between them.

What LeadStories looked like 4 years ago.

Lead Stories recently censored an exclusive National Pulse report detailing how the Black Lives Matter website – the organization spearheading nationwide “defund the police” campaign – is partnered with ActBlue, a Democrat fundraising platform that is the top donor to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Lead Stories claims, in its “Hoax Alert” section, claimed that because ActBlue is a “payment processor” it does not mean they are affiliated with Joe Biden for President.

But ActBlue is the same “payment processor” that exclusively works with Democrats, and was the conduit for LeadStories’ staff donations to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and other Democratic Party candidates.

The fact Black Lives Matter doesn’t use a more neutral processor like GoFundMe is evidence enough of the group’s partisanship.

The idea the story is a “hoax” – i.e. “a malicious deception” – is evidence of a deeply problematic, systemic problem within Facebook’s fact-checking network.

One of LeadStories founder Perry Sanders’s Democrat donations: through ActBlue.

Those who shared the National Pulse’s factually accurate article on Facebook – a social media platform that consistently displays bias against conservatives – were prompted with an alert insisting the “information in your post is partly false.”

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Facebook dutifully added the following “notice” to users’ posts:

Lead Stories is the Democrat donor-run Facebook “fact checker”

The notice – falsely citing Lead Stories’ as an “independent” fact-checker – was added nearly a week after the article was posted:

The veil placed on the National Pulse Facebook post by the Democrat donor-run ‘LeadStories’ group.

In a clear cut example of the lack of transparency from the “fact checkers,” when National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam attempted to connect with company co-founder Alan Duke, a near 20-year CNN entertainment reporter, Duke refused to speak about the matter.

FOUNDED AND RUN BY DEMOCRAT DONORS.

While many on the left and the establishment right insist “big tech bias” is non-existent, the background of and individuals involved with Lead Stories suggests otherwise.

Lead Stories Chairman and founder Perry Sanders is a devout Democrat, donating over $10,000 to political campaigns – every penny going to Democratic candidates.

Sanders donated $3,700 to Hilary Clinton‘s presidential campaign and gave $4,000 to Obama’s 2008 presidential effort.

Sanders – also known as Michael Jackson’s family lawyer – donated $2,000 to failed Democratic congressional candidate Irv Halter in 2014, $500 to Democratic Senator Michael Bennet in 2009, and $300 to failed Democratic congressional candidate Hal Bidlack.

Lead Stories founder Perry Sanders donates exclusively to Democrats

Sanders is politically active beyond campaign contributions: he launched a “Stop the Hypocrisy” campaign in favor of marijuana legalization and “Fix The USA,” a plan that would “bring U.S. unemployment to zero via a $750 billion bank-funded investment offensive.

Lead Stories’ political donations and activism doesn’t stop there.

Victoria Eavis, a writer for the site, has also donated via ActBlue, writer Alexis Tereszcuk donated twice to the Clinton campaign in 2016 totaling $500, $25 via ActBlue, and $250 to failed Democratic congressional candidate Nick Leibham.

Writer Gita Smith appears to have donated 99 times amounting to $1,839.82 to Democratic campaigns including (via ActBlue), failed Democratic congressional candidate Josh Segall, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Democratic Senator Doug Jones.

A small portion of Lead Stories’ Gita Smith and her donations to anti-Trump groups

Smith also donated to Swing Left, a hard-left political group formed in reaction to the election of President Trump intent on “defeating Trump.” The Swing Left website asserts:

“2020 is here, and the work defeat Trump and the GOP in November starts NOW.”

Lead Stories’ left-wing bias also goes beyond campaign contributions.

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The platform’s Managing Editor Eric Ferkenhoff is a journalist with experience at The New York Times who currently lectures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

He’s implied President Trump is a “white nationalist” while attacking his “decision-making” capabilities on Twitter:

In addition to two high-ranking Lead Stories’ employees – the outlet’s Editor-in-Chief and Senior Editor – six additional “writers and fact-checkers” have long histories working for left-wing, establishment outlet CNN.

At least half of the staff list CNN as a previous employer.

Editor-In-Chief and co-founder Alan Duke worked at CNN for nearly 30 years as a reporter and editor, and Senior Editor Monte Plott was also a former news editor for CNN digital news for over a decade.

Writers Wayne Drash worked at the outlet for two decades, Chandler Friedan worked there for seven years, Chelsea Carter worked for five years, and Mary Acosta along with Dana Ford are also formerly CNN. Jessica Ravitz, also a fact-checker and writer, used to be a senior writer at CNN Digital and Associate Director at the left-wing Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL has been accused of altering data to make right-wing violence appear more prevalent and is headed by former Obama White House Special Assistant who has been on progressive megadonor George Soros’s payroll.

The Lead Stories staff list, packed to the gunwhales with leftist activists.

Responding to a query about the inherent bias and obvious conflict of interest from Lead Stories, Facebook told The National Pulse that their fact checkers are certified by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network.

The Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network is a think tank which critics also allege has an inherent left-wing bias, and is funded by a host of progressive entities including George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.

Despite these clearly partisan indictments, Facebook is keen on having users believe its fact-checkers are “independent.”


Natalie Winters and Raheem Kassam

Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of the National Pulse. Natalie Winters is a Senior Writing Fellow.