Right Wing ‘Seattle’s Dying’ Propaganda Comes to Anchorage

A strange yet very familiar sounding Facebook page popped up last year on Christmas Day calling itself “Anchorage is Dying.”

The accompanying Anchorage is Dying website created on 12-23-2020, offers a “Save Anchorage Private Members Only Newsletter.” The website appears to have been created by 1mpactstudios which has done work for Christine Hill, Roger Holland, Ron Gillham and others.

Fixing Anchorage, Fixing Alaska seems to be a related Facebook page.

The Facebook page for “Anchorage is Dying” hosts an hour-and-a-half-long heavily criticized “Seattle is Dying” video produced by KOMO in Seattle. KOMO is a Sinclair Media Station.

Must Read Alaska perhaps telegraphed the future weaponization of the right-wing propaganda video when Suzanne Downing wrote, “Seattle is dying; will Anchorage follow suit?” on March 21, 2019.

If the “Anchorage is Dying” lingo sounds familiar, it’s because it appeared all over local Anchorage News when a now debunked flyer was spread across social media and both waived and read in front of the Anchorage Assembly in January.

The “Anchorage is Dying” Facebook group writes that it “spliced scenes” of the video to show “how bad Seattle is, how the Seattle City Council, Lack Of Policing, & Bad Mayors leave a city in despair and how the city has no hope in sight.”

Unsurprisingly, the video description also includes links to websites that aim to recall Felix Rivera, Anchorage Mayoral Candidate/Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar, and Christopher Constant, which the page refers to as “(He Who Can Not Be Named, or Pointed At).”

The “Anchorage is Dying” theme seems largely based on the now heavily criticized “Seattle is Dying” propaganda video that circulated in 2019.

The “Seattle is Dying” video claims to have “explored” homelessness in Seattle. The creator of the video said at the time that local authorities did not provide effective responses to the problems as he identified them, and said some law enforcement officials were not helping to address what Johnson said were ongoing issues.

Seattle media outlets and homelessness advocates criticized KOMO for what they said was an “inaccurate and biased picture of the issues,” and that the contents of the documentary were motivated by the “right-wing agenda” of the nationwide Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has little interest in local Seattle politics but benefits from spreading a negative image of the liberal, west-coast city. Tim Harris of Real Change called the video “misery porn” and a “hit piece” on homelessness.

In March 2019, Crosscut reported that a “homeless man” depicted in the documentary wasn’t homeless at all. The man said that KOMO’s video “inaccurately portrayed” him. Crosscut met with him in the apartment he had been living in for nearly four years. Like many other people filmed by the news team, they were never spoken to on camera.

The original and controversial “Seattle is Dying” video, that the “Anchorage is Dying” Facebook group “spliced,” excels at being emotionally compelling even if there are doubts about its accurate depiction of the homeless situation in Seattle.

I reached out to Anchorage Assemblyman Christopher Constant about the video, its content and the Anchorage related Facebook pages hosting the video. In a statement he wrote:

“Many aspects and claims made in the video have been debunked by individuals who appeared in the video. A careful watch of the propaganda piece called Seattle is Dying reveals a carefully crafted narrative intended to mislead.

The most interesting lie in the story is the claim that the East Coast system of criminalizing individuals and medicating them falls apart on close inspection.  Every worst case story told in the documentary resolves around methamphetamine usage.  The adjunctive medications shown in the video don’t work for meth addiction, only alcohol and heroin. The tale they are telling sounds true, but is a lie.”

A sequel to the Seattle is Dying video caused a firestorm last year. While the original video proposed locking up homeless addicts in a prison island near Tacoma, Washington for “forced substance abuse treatment,” the villain in the sequel “Fight for the Soul of Seattle,” is Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), a Seattle-based supportive housing and homeless shelter provider with over forty years experience working with the homeless.

There are plenty of holes in KOMO’s conservative narrative this time — as KOMO never sought comment from DESC to confirm their outlandish claims, which DESC says impugned their motives and organizational mission.

Anchorage residents should be alarmed and aware of what’s circulating across local social media and how it’s being used to spread fear and paint an incomplete and misleading picture of our particular situation here at home.

The weaponization of misinformation is real.