Gatestone has been a significant promoter of the controversial idea of “no-go zones” in the heart of major cities where Muslims rule by Shariah law. In January 2015, then-Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a Republican, cited Gatestone’s research in a speech in London.
In September 2015, Fox News contributor Steve Emerson, who’s also written for Gatestone, said in an appearance on the network that the British city of Birmingham is a “no-go zone” for non-Muslims. The claim prompted the British broadcasting regulator Ofcom to find the network in breach of its broadcasting code. Emerson later apologized.
There are undoubtedly serious tensions across Western Europe over an immigration influx from Africa and the Middle East. Yet Ben Nimmo, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s digital forensic research lab, said, “There’s a scary degree of ignorance in the U.S. on conditions in Europe, which was exemplified” in the comments Emerson made on the Fox News broadcast.
NBC News found at least four instances of known Russian trolls directly re-tweeting from the Gatestone account, according to an NBC News database of deleted tweets sent by Russian trolls. The stories were sent by trolls identified by Twitter as working for the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency.
One of the retweeted stories claimed that 500 churches in London have closed while 423 new mosques have opened, which went viral and was picked up by numerous websites including Breitbart News. The fact-checking website Snopes.com said Gatestone used “shoddy research and cherry-picked data” for the story.
Peter Brierley, an expert on British religious statistics, found that London saw 700 new churches from 2005 to 2012 and the total number of churches increased between 2008 and 2013, fueled in part by mass migration of Christians from places like Poland and Romania.
Gatestone’s scholars have appeared in Russian media — including Sputnik and RT News (formerly Russia Today) — criticizing mainstream European leaders including France’s Macron.
Geert Wilders, head of the Dutch Party for Freedom and a prominent critic of Islam who is listed as a Gatestone author, was on an RT broadcast last month saying Europe lacks strong political leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Trump. In a May 2017 post on Medium, Gatestone contributor Yves Mamou called Macron France’s “useful idiot of Islamism.”
“It suits the Kremlin propaganda outlets to portray Western democracies as a failure that have been flooded by migrants and whose societies are breaking down, because then it will make it (democracy) less attractive to Russians,” said Nimmo.
Gatestone had revenue of $2.3 million in 2016. Rosenwald’s foundation has also supported right-wing pundits including David Horowitz, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center identified in 2011 as one of 10 people in the U.S. “anti-Muslim inner circle.”
Rosenwald is vice president of the William Rosenwald Family Fund, which funds a host of pro-Israel groups including the Middle East Forum. She has also sat on the board of a number of mainstream pro-Israel organizations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Gatestone has also received financial backing from Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire father-daughter team who have supported conservative candidates in the U.S. including Cruz and Trump. The Mercers also co-founded Cambridge Analytica, the data company being scrutinized by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.
The Mercers’ role in the proliferation of right-wing media also includes funding the alt-right Breitbart News in the U.S.
In an archived 2017 web page, Rebekah Mercer was listed as a member of the Gatestone Board of Governors.
The Mercers contributed $100,000 to Gatestone in both 2015 and 2016, according to Gatestone’s tax filings, up from $50,000 in 2014. CNN has reported that the John Bolton Super Pac had a 2014 contract with Cambridge Analytica to provide micro targeting and messaging assistance.
Robert Mercer gave $2 million to Bolton’s super PAC in 2015 and $1 million in 2016.
‘Disseminating false information’
A glance at Gatestone’s archive shows how other right-wing groups and publications frequently cite its work.
Gatestone has taken a particular interest in Germany, which has taken in more refugees than any country in the European Union. The sensationalized headline of one story said the German government was “confiscating homes to use for migrants.”
According to Germany-based Correctiv, a nonprofit investigative newsroom, the city of Hamburg did force the owner of six rental properties that sat unused for five years to pay for renovations and rent them. However, the “decision had nothing to do with migrants,” said Tania Roettger, a Correctiv journalist, who added, “Gatestone was known for disseminating false information.”