Marcus DiPaola is the big influence on today's youth that you've probably never heard about. But you should absolutely know who he is. He has a massive audience on TikTok, influencing today's young adults in a way that fewer and fewer modern journalists are able to. However, Marcus's involvement with China-based news outlets is a major cause for concern, as well as his claims to have been a former FBI informant on President Trump, deserves far more attention than he currently gets for it.
Who is Marcus DiPoala?
Boasting 2.5million followers on TikTok, Marcus claims to "use a writing style designed to make it possible for middle schoolers with learning disabilities to understand the news." But Marcus, age 30, has a lot more followers than just middle schoolers with learning disabilities. He speaks directly to an impressionable audience of teenagers and young adults who take a lot of his reporting at face value.
In a Washington Post article on Marcus, he claims, “I want to be the translator from mainstream media to teenagers.” No mention therein about children with disabilities. He knows his audience is much bigger than that, and he plans to wield it, all from his mother's basement. No joke.
Here's a sample of how Marcus represents himself:
The Dangers of TikTok Journalism
TikTok is an unstoppable force, utilized by a large number of America's youth. According to Statista, a consumer data company, 25% of those using TikTok in the United States are in the 10-19 age group, and another 22.4% make up 20-29 year old users.
As ratings for standard media outlets continue to decline, more and more young people are turning their eyes to TikTok for their news. A dangerous trend, since TikTok doesn't facilitate citing sources really at all. Anybody can say just about anything on that platform, and when there's a large group of impressionable eyes and ears taking it in, the consequences can be disastrous.
When viewers place their trust in the wrong people, it gets even worse.
For example, in a video I made 9 months ago, I emphasized how a certain phrase or "sound" on TikTok will become popular and then reused over and over again by people who are either trying to create a narrative or simply to become more popular on TikTok.
In this audio, you'll hear repeated over and over again:
"Due to personal reasons, I will no longer be saying 'Black Lives Matter' in response to 'All Lives Matter.' Instead I'm just going to say, 'These hands matter,' and then rock your shit."
Does this have an impact? Yes, it absolutely does. In fact, the rise of TikTok has been one of the singular forces behind the rise of Black Lives Matter among the youth, as well as the romanticization of Antifa and Communism by America's youth. I wish I were kidding.
No wonder Nancy Pelosi wants to let 16-year-olds vote. Here's another video I made about teenagers on TikTok. It's kinda funny. But also kinda not.
Marcus Messner, director of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University, describes it well:
“While Gen Z consumers make their buying choices based on advice from influencers on TikTok, the leap to having them consume their news and information from news influencers is not very far. This widens the gap of how different generations choose their news sources, as the older generation probably has never heard of these TikTok personalities while they have millions of followers among Gen Z users.”
People you've never heard of have an an incredibly strong hold on how your children think, purchase, speak, and interact with the world. And Marcus DiPoala is a prime example.
He has fully immersed himself in TikTok culture in a very short amount of time. He also owns the website TikTokNewser.com where he interviews random TikTokers. According to him, he got started by "teaching teenage boys about consent within relationships." He even admits he got inappropriate DMs from young boys about it.
Marcus's Journalistic Style
From his "style guide" DiPaola provides on his Medium site, Marcus describes the phrases he pays attention to, and how he chooses to stylize his reporting. In an effort to seemingly be more clear and concise, he often ends up spinning stories with a different tone than they often warrant. For example, using the phrase "a cop shot someone" instead of "police involved shooting."
This is especially important in today's tumultuous media landscape where word choice matters, especially given his large audience of impressionable teens and young adults. Inflammatory word choices are a path to more civil unrest and youth being manipulated into supporting causes that don't deserve it. Far from making things simpler for disabled children, Marcus uses his language to shape the narrative for the youth in general. And it's dangerous.
Scrolling further down his page, you'll see his list of "banned things."
Substituting "put to death" for "killed" or "sewage" for "shit and piss" seems like an odd journalistic choice, and one that actually would benefit from the distinction. Again, regardless of Marcus's insistence that he makes news for disabled children, his audience is far larger.
And then, his reasoning for "avoiding complexity:"
By not mentioning anything but age and race, Marcus is able to polarize his audience and appeal to their emotions. It also makes it much more difficult for his viewers to look up the story on their own. The same goes with his editorial decision to not use anyone's name, personal titles, organization names, or that his information comes from other news outlets. It's a subtle form of gatekeeping that keeps his audience "informed" but in the dark.
This, in my opinion, is not by accident. Take, for example, his report on March 29th about LGBT residents in Philadelphia getting "attacked".
In an op-ed about this very post, Edward Champion breaks it down:
It is certainly true that a transgender woman was attacked in Philadelphia on March 20th and that there was an uptick in transgender attacks last year. But DiPaola’s hysterical rhetoric suggested that Philly was something out of Frank Miller’s apocalyptic portrayals of Gotham. Last year, USA Today reported that Philadelphia was among the friendliest cities to LGBTQ people. The city was one of the first places in America to initiate a yearly Pride parade in 1972.
Marcus & Chinese State Media
According to Marcus, "I started my career as an on-camera reporter at CNC World, a cable TV station that is the Chinese equivalent to CNN." CNC World is a majority Chinese state-owned news network run by Xinhua, the state news agency.
When discussing Xinhua, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, echoed a suspicion that Chinese state media is a weapon for their intelligence operations: “China has long masked intelligence operations with journalistic credentials.”
President Trump tweeted about the encroachment of Chinese state media in United States media on September 26, 2018.
Therefore, Marcus's comparison of CNC World to CNN couldn't be more accurate when you consider the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda machine is its most important guarantor of the CCP's power. Xinhua also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Associated Press on November 25, 2018, "with consensus in diverse aspects over further enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation."
CNC World and Xinhua's reach in the United States media is extensive, and includes people like Marcus DiPaola pretending to be journalists while sensationalizing anti-American propaganda.
Marcus reported on the Ferguson riots for Xinhua in 2014.
And he continues to do the same in 2021 for officer-involved shootings, providing them with emotionally-charged images to influence their audiences, including the death of Adam Toledo, a thirteen year old who brandished a pistol at police officers before being fatally shot.
The problem with his performative activism is just that: It's performative.
Marcus & Texas
Marcus reveled in the massive power outages in Texas in February to his young audience, saying, "Businesses have to make a profit in order to exist. The problem is that businesses generally do what's necessary to make money, and don't actually give a shit about customers, so they have to be forced to take care of their customers by rules created by the government. Well, Republicans don't like rules either, they call them government regulations. Enjoy your power blackouts Texas, you voted for them."
By DiPaola’s logic, the eight million children who live in Texas deserved to face crippling cold because Texas leans Republican. Nearly 200 people died then, and they deserved it... according to Marcus. Realistically, the failure in February was largely due to natural gas, not the 10% of Texas's energy derived from renewable sources. However, were Texas more dependent on renewable resources, that wouldn't have helped either, as the state’s wind and solar energy failed as well.
There was a lot of dishonest reporting surrounding that whole catastrophe, and most journalists and media outlets decided to point fingers on who's fault it was rather than focusing on the 200 dead. At the end of the day, neither resource did its job, neither would have, and people died because of it.
But for propagandist DiPaola, it's "Republicans bad, Democrats good, you deserved it."
Marcus & the FBI
DiPaola also claims to have been a voluntary FBI informant from January 2016 to January 2019, wherein he says he acted as a journalist turned informant covering President Trump. Some even have guessed that DiPaola was "source #3" who had multiple meetings with George Papadopoulous, seeking to entrap him. That, of course, is speculative.
He was soon after fired from Fox News.
Marcus also happens to be the person who captured footage of DC police removing barricades to let January 6th protesters into restricted areas. He then reframed the situation as officers abandoning their posts because they were overwhelmed.
Lastly, despite DiPaola's own account of the Ferguson riots in 2014 in which rioters torched his car and put a pistol to his videographer's forehead, DiPaola now reports on Black Lives Matter riots as "peaceful protesters" and relatively peaceful January 6th protesters as violent insurrectionists.
So how is it that this FBI informant, Chinese state media journalist has captured the minds and attention spans of Gen Z? Though a lot of it remains to be uncovered, it seems that Marcus has managed to pick up a few skills from his teachers, whoever they may be, and thrives in his ability to spin narratives and sway the opinions of millions with his hysterical reporting style.
This story will be continued at a later date. There's a lot more to learn here, and simply exists as a warning sign of the deeper penetration of American media by informants to China and three letter agencies.
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