Paris Wade, who made national headlines in 2016 for operating a “sensationalist right-wing ‘news’ website he credits with helping elect President Donald Trump,” is now running for the Nevada Assembly, according to Review Journal.
Wade is running for the Republican seat of the District 41 of the Nevada State Assembly, and his link to the “fake news” boom of 2016 is coming to the surface. However, despite Wade’s controversial history involving his website Liberty Writers, he has big plans for Nevada’s District 41 if he succeeds in getting elected.
Here’s what you need to know about Wade:
1. Wade Used to Run a Site Called Liberty Writers That Was Known for its Sensationalist Headlines & Clickbait Content
During the 2016 presidential election, Wade launched a website called Liberty Writers, that featured short articles with flashy headlines like “BREAKING: Hillary Clinton’s Nomination is a LIE and WE HAVE PROOF!!!” Most of the articles were shorter than 300 words, featured similar click-bait headlines, and ended each article with “keep fighting, patriots.”
The site was established in 2015 by Wade and associate Ben Goldman, who wrote under the pseudonyms Paris Swade and Danny Gold. The two spent the next year publishing made-up political news stories to generate web traffic, allowing them to “advertise revenue.” For six months in 2016, the Liberty Writers Facebook page garnered more than 805,000 followers and tens of millions of page views, according to Wikipedia. Due to the high volume of traffic, the site yielded between $10 thousand and $40 thousand in revenue per month by August, 2016.
Wade and Goldman told the Washington Post that their stories focused on “violence and chaos and aggressive wording” to attract readers, and often deliberately appealed to Trump supporters, adopting opinions and stances of those who supported Trump’s policies.
Many headlines were click-bait in nature, and used all capitals to push a strongly worded headline. “OBAMA BIRTH SECRETS REVEALED! The Letters From His Dad Reveal Something Sinister,” and “BREAKING: Top Official Set to Testify Against Hillary Clinton Found DEAD!” were among some of the stories Wade and Goldman published.
Wade and Goldman had initially considered themselves liberals and admitted to voting for former president Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, but later “began to doubt those votes, their college education and the progressive values with which they were raised,” according to Wikipedia.
2. He Was Connected With a Spike of Fake News Being Published During the 2016 Presidential Election
A joint investigation by BuzzFeed News uncovered information revealing that the boom of “real” fake news during the election period was organized by Wade and two others – a well-known Macedonian media attorney, Trajche Arsov and another high-profile American partner, with much of the news based out of the Mecedonian town of Veles.
“A week before Election Day in 2016, BuzzFeed News revealed that young men and teens in Veles were running over a hundred websites that pumped out often false viral stories that supported Donald Trump,” BuzzFeed reports.
The story unfolded, revealing a trove of teenagers that had a shaky grasp of the English language who were raking in large sums of money from digital ads that accompanied their misleading stories about U.S. politics.
BuzzFeed, Organized Crime and the Corruption Reporting Project scanned thousands of social media posts, government records, domain registry information and achieved versions of fake news sites to reveal that the Veles’ political news industry wasn’t actually started by the group of young teenagers, but rather, it was launched by Arsov with the help of Wade and another American partner.
3. After Wade’s Site Was Shut Down by Facebook, He Decided to Run for Nevada Assembly to Help Others “Fight Giant Bureaucracy”
Despite the link between his website and the outpouring of fake news that was churned out through it, Wade credits his site for helping elect President Trump, according to Review Journal. He also claims that his decision to run for Nevada Assembly was inspired by Facebook shutting down his page.
“I started my business in my living room with my best friend,” said Wade, 28. “I was lucky to be able to talk to millions of people across this country. I want to make sure what happened to me, where I was shut down by essentially a giant bureaucracy, doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
Wade is a Tennessee native who spent years traveling across California and living in Airbnb rentals before finally settling in Nevada, where he is now running for Nevada Assembly. He hopes to accomplish his goal of fighting “giant bureaucracy” by unseating Democrat Sandra Jauregui in the Las Vegas-based District 41 seat.
If elected, Wade told the Journal Review that he plans to focus on “easing regulations on businesses, ensuring police and fire officials have adequate resources and improving Nevada’s education system.” He did not take a specific stance on gun control, but said: “I’ve talked to a lot of gun owners in my district, and the biggest fear is legislation like that will infringe on their Second Amendment rights.”
4. He Faces an Uphill Battle to Win District 41 Due to a Higher Amount of Democratic Voters Registered in the Area & His Link to Fake News
Wade holds an advertising degree from the University of Tennessee, according to the Review Journal. Despite his good intentions, his fight to win District 41 will be tough, as the district holds nearly three thousand more registered Democrat voters than Republicans. According to the secretary of state’s office, there are 14,592 registered Democrats compared to 11,566 Republicans as of April, 2018.
Paul Selberg, executive director of the Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus, also says that Wade’s history of pumping out “fake news” could also be a major obstacle for the candidate.
“Whether you call it fake news, alternative truths or just outright lies, Liberty Writers is nothing more than a clickbait blog designed to misinform rather than inform,” he said. “If this the best the Republican Party can do in a state and district that voted against Donald Trump, then there’s nothing to be concerned about.”
With the right’s hatred and rejection of fake news and President Trump fueling that hatred, it may turn out to be a tougher uphill battle for Wade than just a matter of more registered Democrat voters than Republican voters.
5. Wade Does Not Consider What His Site Published as Fake News – “We Were Entertaining People About the News”
Wade rejects the notion that his website had anything to do with publishing fake news, according to the Journal Review.
“We did not publish any fake news,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in April. “Is the same question asked of ‘The Daily Show’? We are doing the same thing. We were entertaining people about the news.”
Although several studies have shown that fake news websites, and especially those that use sensationalist headlines to gain more traffic, have “damaged trust in the media in the United States, undermining one of the basic pillars of democracy. Wade does not agree,” according to the Journal Review.
“Almost everybody is educated enough to read multiple news sources and make their own opinions,” he said.
Facebook deleted the Liberty Writers’ page in November 2017 for violating its terms. Wade ended up losing 3.2 million followers when the page was shut down.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that Wade is in a legal battle with Facebook. Wade’s campaign manager says that he is not currently involved in a legal battle with Facebook and no legal cases have ever been filed against Facebook by Wade.