Investigative reporter Gabe Kaminsky did an excellent job of uncovering how activist organizations, some partnered with the State Department, work to blacklist and defund conservative media. His ongoing series at the Washington Examiner is worth reading and explains how this is part of a larger effort to effectively shut down conservative media publications.
It’s predictable—yet nevertheless disturbing—stuff.
“Major ad companies are increasingly seeking guidance from purportedly ‘nonpartisan’ groups claiming to be detecting and fighting online ‘disinformation.’” Kaminsky wrote. “These same ‘disinformation’ monitors are compiling secret website blacklists and feeding them to ad companies, with the aim of defunding and shutting down disfavored speech, according to sources familiar with the situation, public memos, and emails obtained by the Washington Examiner.”
In one report, Kaminsky explained how the State Department bankrolledone of those nonprofits:
The Global Disinformation Index, a British organization with two affiliated U.S. nonprofit groups, is feeding blacklists to ad companies with the intent of defunding and shutting down websites peddling alleged ‘disinformation.’
This same ‘disinformation’ group has received $330,000 from two State Department-backed entities linked to the highest levels of government, raising concerns from First Amendment lawyers and members of Congress.
The Daily Signal was on the Global Disinformation Index’s villain list, as was almost every significant right-of-center website. By contrast, the list of “low-risk” websites GDI identified were all left-leaning—including NPR, HuffPost, and BuzzFeed News.
Some websites flagged as "false/misleading" included @dcexaminer @realDailyWire @RealClearNews @NEWSMAX @BreitbartNews @theblaze + @JudicialWatch— Gabe Kaminsky (@gekaminsky) February 10, 2023
What this means is that Xandr slashed ad dollars from these websites based on the idea that their spreading disinfo pic.twitter.com/yhL2F2lXSz
If the Global Disinformation Index could pinpoint actual points of disinformation, where outlets publish falsehoods to promote certain ideas, that would be one thing, and maybe even useful. It doesn’t do that.
Here’s how GDI defines “disinformation”:
Adversarial narratives, which are intentionally misleading; financially or ideologically motivated; and/or, aimed at fostering long-term social, political or economic conflict; and which create a risk of harm by undermining trust in science or targeting at-risk individuals or institutions.
Got it? Within that pile of lefty technocratic babble, we can glean some insights into where GDI is coming from.
The tipoff comes in the first two words, “Adversarial narratives.”
You see, the Global Disinformation Index’s list of “risky” websites doesn’t highlight concrete examples of false reporting. It’s not good enough to show the people facts and make arguments on behalf of ideas. That’s dangerous. After all, the people could come to the wrong conclusions. Instead, GDI created a complicated sounding metric that mostly just tracks ideological heresy.
Objective truth doesn’t exist in the postmodern mind. Disinformation comes from rejecting the narratives of our increasingly woke, left-wing institutions’ ruthless gatekeeping. To disagree or to promote information, true or not, that contradicts their preferred narratives is dangerous.
Dissenters must be rooted out, shamed, condemned, and ostracized by society. That’s done on behalf of science—or something.
GDI’s examples of disinformation appear to just be topics that make liberals uncomfortable. For instance, it ran a report on “misogyny,” among other things, pointing to a piece by Washington Examiner opinion editor Conn Carroll. Carroll’s piece was titled “Why are liberal women so unhappy?” and cites polling data about reported differing happiness levels between conservative and liberal women.
“Looking to explain why liberal women are so unhappy, National Marriage Project Director Brad Wilcox notes that no demographic is happier with their family life than conservative women,” the GDI report read. “Over 60% of conservative women say they are completely satisfied with their family life, compared to 50% of conservative men and just 35% of liberal women.”
That’s its evidence to prove the article is problematic.
“When the Biden administration funds the GDI, it isn’t trying to safeguard democracy or promote the free exchange of ideas,” Carroll wrote about getting placed on GDI’s list. “It is trying to shut down all dissenting voices. Something to keep in mind the next time you hear a Democrat complain about conservative disinformation.”
Rooting out disinformation apparently means transforming American society into a vast, modern college campus, where only left-wing voices speaking their truths are allowed a platform and a megaphone. “Free speech” for anyone else who might voice even mild opposition with troubling “facts” is suspect.
The State Department has distanced itself from the Global Disinformation Index since the Examiner’s story broke, saying that the combined $330,000 it gave to GDI was meant only to track “China, Russia, Iran, and other authoritarian regimes.”
Even if that’s true, why is the State Department giving anything to such a narrowly partisan, ideologically motivated organization?
My colleague Fred Lucas reported that the National Endowment for Democracy, a nonprofit funded mostly by Congress through the State Department, has left the door open to funding the GDI in the future.
That brings us back full circle to the story from last year about the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Boardthat was purportedly put on pause after getting shellacked by negative press.
Just as with the State Department’s partnership with the Global Disinformation Index, the Department of Homeland Security said that the purpose of the Orwellian-sounding Disinformation Governance Board was to simply track foreign disinformation. Maybe it was, but given how the GDI’s mission overlapped with targeting U.S. conservatives, it’s hard not to conclude that the “foreign” aspect of these operations is just cover for what is really a larger ideological crusade.
The GDI story provides further evidence of a pernicious censorship regime developing in the United States and the West, where Big Tech, large corporations, well-funded left-wing nonprofit organizations, and the government work together to control information and silence dissenters.
This story highlights the censorship regime’s grave threat to free speech and sheds light on the duplicity of our largest, most powerful institutions to foist a narrow ideology upon the American people.
Original here. Reproduced with permission. Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. He is also the author of the book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.”