Beware of election conspiracies and pro-Trump propaganda on sale at your neighborhood Safeway store.
A survey of newspaper racks at multiple Safeway supermarkets over the past six months revealed copies of the Epoch Times on sale.
Investigations by NBC, New York Times, and the Atlantic paint a picture of the Epoch Times as a hotbed of Trump-boosting partisanship and misinformation, including promotion of QAnon and election fraud conspiracies. The Times’ investigation described how the Epoch Times evolved to become a “partisan powerhouse” that’s “created a global-scale misinformation machine that has repeatedly pushed fringe narratives into the mainstream.”
An email to the regional press contact for Albertsons, which owns Safeway stores, asking whether the supermarket chain has considered halting sales of the newspaper because it peddles misinformation was not returned. Other unanswered questions included: Does Safeway vet any of the “newspapers” on Safeway’s racks? Has Safeway ever decided against selling a publication? What, if anything, would make Safeway drop Epoch Times from its newspaper racks?
The Epoch Times, a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 by Chinese-Americans affiliated with the religious group Falun Gong, was not seen in visits to two Denver King Soopers stores, which are owned by Kroger. Multiple emails seeking to know if Kroger decided against selling Epoch Times in its stores were not returned
Safeway can drop Epoch times without running afoul of the First Amendment, according to a Colorado expert.
Steve Zansberg, a Denver-based attorney, said that because Safeway (Albertsons) is not a governmental entity, its decision to allow some, and not other, publications to be offered for sale on its premises does not raise any concerns under the First Amendment.
Zansberg says that Safeway, a private business, does not create a “public forum” by opening its magazine racks, at the check out line or in its store aisles, to some publications, which would create a “right” of any other publisher to place its publications there.
Two of Colorado’s most right-leaning Republicans, U.S. Representatives Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck, have both promoted the newspaper or its content in recent years.
“The Left is attempting to cancel an important voice for liberty — The Epoch Times newspaper,” wrote Buck in a 2021 fundraising email after the paper had its U.S. House Gallery press credentials revoked. This followed numerous investigative reports of The Epoch Times, citing the newspaper’s promotion of election conspiracies, among other misinformation.
Since then, Buck himself has been highly critical of election conspiracies within his own party.
In 2021, Boebert promoted a baseless conspiracy theory, traceable to Epoch Times, that Democrats would resign from the House en masse amid a scandal. She’s promoted multiple other Epoch Times stories on her X (formerly Twitter) feed.
The Epoch Times didn’t return an email for comment, but on its website, the organization responds to “being attacked” by the media and others. And it states that its “commitment to journalistic integrity has not wavered.”
“Two decades ago, the founders of The Epoch Times came to the United States with the dream of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the pursuit of happiness,” states the website. “…Today, we are being attacked, arrested, canceled, and sued, not only by the Chinese Communist Party, but also by U.S. government agencies, big tech companies, and the mainstream media. We’ve struggled for years, facing unimaginable difficulties—sleeping in the office, working seven days a week, spending months away from our families in cities across America, and even decades away from loved ones left behind overseas. Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks, we have never lost hope in our mission to report the truth. Our commitment to journalistic integrity has not wavered, even in the face of adversity.”
There are reports of the Epoch Times being sold in stores in other cities, including San Diego.
Last year, the Epoch Times sent an unsolicited direct-mail advertisement to at least one Denver resident. The mailer, designed like a front page of the newspaper offered “real news based on facts from traditional journalism.”
“You deserve real news,” stated the mailer. “We mailed you this copy to break through suppression by Big Tech. Please read and fight back.”
Facebook banned Epoch Times advertisements in 2019, for violating Facebook’s ad policies. The Epoch Times was later caught surreptitiously advertising on Facebook, which had been a key part of the newspaper’s early and successful advertising strategy.