Documents from 2017-2020 Highlight a Culture of Misinformation Harmful to American Democracy
Washington, D.C. — Today, on the anniversary of January 6, 2021, Democracy Forward released federal agency communications obtained through its ongoing public records investigation that show the close relationship between Trump-era federal agency officials and right-wing media, including the way they worked to corrupt public information.
As the Records Release states: “While the role of right-wing media as a platform for those seeking to discredit the integrity of the 2020 election and promote the Big Lie has been well documented, less appreciated is the way in which officials embedded both in the White House and throughout federal executive agencies during the Trump administration shaped and corrupted public information, including by coordinating with right-wing media.”
The documents highlighted in today’s release show that the culture of misinformation was not limited to the Big Lie or election-related issues; rather, it spanned a number of issues throughout the course of the forty-fifth presidential administration, including economic policy, environmental issues, immigration and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the nation reflects on the anniversary of January 6, 2021, it is important to take a hard look not only at the events of that day but also at the ecosystem of misinformation that existed during the four years Donald Trump was in office,” said Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward. “The records we obtained over the course of our ongoing investigation contextualize aspects of the last administration’s relationship with right-wing media and the spread of harmful and misleading narratives. Democracy depends on a government that works for all people and one that is accountable for present and future generations. Only through learning from what transpired can we successfully prevent it from ever happening again.”
Agencies initially withheld these records. Beginning in February 2019, Democracy Forward filed three federal lawsuits against 12 agencies, which successfully compelled the agencies’ compliance with their statutory obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. This Records Release includes highlights from more than 60 productions of documents, totaling about 30,000 pages received to date. The records show that during the last administration those holding positions in federal agencies—not merely the White House—corrupted public information on matters of great public importance.
Records continue to be produced in response to our requests and litigation. Read the full Records Release here.
Democracy Forward Foundation (“Democracy Forward”) is a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 that litigates cases involving government action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities. The organization has taken 650 legal actions and achieved victories supporting democracy and improving the lives and wellbeing of people and communities. Democracy Forward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.