How a Putin fan overseas pushed pro-Trump propaganda to Americans

Patriot News — whose postings were viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the United States — is among a constellation of websites run out of the United Kingdom that are linked to James Dowson, a far-right political activist who advocated Britain’s exit from the European Union and is a fan of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. A vocal proponent of Christian nationalist, anti-immigrant movements in Europe, Mr. Dowson, 52, has spoken at a conference of far-right leaders in Russia and makes no secret of his hope that Mr. Trump will usher in an era of rapprochement with Mr. Putin.

His dabbling in the American presidential election adds an ideological element that has been largely missing from the still-emerging landscape of websites and Facebook pages that bombarded American voters with misinformation and propaganda. Far from the much-reported Macedonian teenagers running fake news factories solely for profit, Mr. Dowson made it his mission, according to messages posted on one of his sites, to “spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and sound bites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning.”…

Mr. Dowson claims to have reached millions of Americans across all of his online platforms in the run-up to the November presidential election, a number that could not be verified, in part, because he would not confirm all of his sites. Online visits to Patriot News did not come close to that, although when combined with several other sites that appear to be connected to Mr. Dowson, the total number edges above a million; most viewers were in Britain.

Whatever the precise numbers, there is little question that postings on the sites and Facebook pages linked to him were viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times.