By Steven Monacelli
Editor’s note: This article was altered after it was published due to changes made in a D Magazine article that is referenced below.
Between 1892 and 1970, the Dallas Express was a Black newspaper in Dallas, perhaps the largest and most influential during its existence. It notably publicized lynchings, attacked racial segregation and promoted issues like public housing.
Now, the name is being used to publish right-wing propaganda funded by a wealthy Texan Republican donor, Monty Bennett.
This is but the latest resurrection of Dallas Express as a news site. Prior to Bennett’s takeover, Dallas Express was reported by D Magazine as a Chicago-based operation called Metric Media News that owns hundreds of such bogus news sites all across the country, which are known in the industry as “pink slime.” Bennett himself was previously accused by D Magazine and the New York Times of utilizing these websites for PR, an allegation which Bennett disputed — ironically, on a pay-to-play website, Dallas City Wire.
Just two weeks after Dallas Express was identified as being a part of the same “pink slime” network as Dallas City Wire, Bennett announced the creation of the newly resurrected Dallas Express on February 8, presenting the new outlet as a “strictly objective” antidote to what he sees as biased news media.
“I can’t take it anymore—and I know many of you can’t either. The Dallas Express was created for one purpose; to help make our city a better place. That’s it. It’s a non-profit operation and there’s no other agenda,” Bennett writes.
Yet a review of the stated “core beliefs” of the paper reveals a rather clear agenda, or at the very least, a set of biases that cannot be considered “objective.”
Take for example the statement that “regulations undermine individual and business productivity, and should not exist unless there is evidence they serve a public interest more important than liberty and productivity.”
Other statements express disdain for programs that foster “dependency” (read: welfare) and characterize taxes as “generally oppressive.”
These are obviously conservative positions.
Bennett is also a board member of Texans for Education Reform, a group which has been bankrolled by the likes of the Hunt family, who are known for their billions in oil wealth as well as their donations to conservative politics.
It’s not clear that the Hunts fund Dallas Express — which is ostensibly formed as a nonprofit — but it would not be out of character for the family, considering their late scion, H.L. Hunt, funded his own right-wing nonprofit propaganda network called the Life Line Foundation, Inc.
It’s also not clear whether they actually have any local reporters. Most of the names associated with recent articles reveal writers who are based in other states.
But what is clear is that the recently resurrected Dallas Express is just the latest iteration of a sort of local “news” publication that is funded by wealthy individuals with clear political agendas. And certainly, a far cry from the historical legacy of the original Dallas Express.
A call placed the number on the Dallas Express website went to voicemail and has not been returned.