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US conspiracy website Gateway Pundit declares bankruptcy
Washington, April 24 (AFP) Apr 24, 2024
US far-right conspiracy website Gateway Pundit is filing for bankruptcy, its founder said Wednesday, as it battles a string of lawsuits alleging it promoted misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Parent company TGP Communications is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Florida, founder Jim Hoft said in a note to readers, blaming "progressive liberal" lawsuits.

The Gateway Pundit, launched as a blog in 2004, rose to prominence as it trumpeted conspiracy theories about a range of subjects, from mass shootings to Donald Trump's false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Two poll workers in the southern state of Georgia -- which Trump lost to Joe Biden in 2020 -- sued the website over false claims they had been involved in ballot fraud.

In December, the same two poll workers won a separate $148 million defamation case against Trump's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani for spreading similar falsehoods.

The Gateway Pundit also faces a lawsuit in Colorado from a former employee of the election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems, over false vote rigging claims.

Last year, Dominion Voting Systems secured a $787.5 million settlement from Fox News after suing over false claims that its machines altered votes.

Defamation lawsuits are increasingly becoming a tool used by citizens and pro-democracy groups in the United States to hold misinformation spreaders accountable.

Radio host Alex Jones, founder of far-right website InfoWars, filed for bankruptcy in 2022 after he was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion in damages for calling a 2012 mass shooting in an elementary school -- which left 20 first graders and six adults dead -- a "hoax."

But striking a defiant note, Hoft vowed to continue publishing even as Gateway Pundit comes under financial pressure from "radical left" campaigns that had driven away advertisers.

"We do not expect that to change," Hoft wrote in his note to readers.

He added the bankruptcy protection was "not an admission of fault or culpability," but instead a way to reorganize and consolidate litigation "when attacks are coming from all sides."

Chapter 11 is a US mechanism allowing a company to restructure its debts under court supervision while continuing to operate.

According to the US misinformation watchdog NewsGuard, Gateway Pundit "regularly distorts information" and spreads unfounded conspiracies.

It has consistently ranked among the 20 most popular right-wing websites, according to the Righting, a newsletter that compiles data from the analytics company Comscore.

The site's account on X, formerly Twitter, has nearly 740,000 followers.

But traffic to a host of pro-Trump conservative websites has plummeted in recent months in part because social media platforms such as Facebook are deprioritizing media articles.

Unique visitors to the Gateway Pundit plunged about 62 percent in February compared to the same month last year, according to the Righting, apparently compounding its financial woes.


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