Editor’s note: the above image is of a book burning in Nazi Germany.
(American Thinker) — The Washington Examiner recently released a two-part report on its investigation of self-proclaimed “disinformation”-tracking organizations that are targeting conservative media.
News outlets such as American Thinker, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, Newsmax, Hot Air, NewsBusters, LifeNews, Breitbart, etc., as well as news websites run by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, etc. and even groups such as Judicial Watch were branded “false/misleading.” Townhall.com was branded “offensive” and “reprehensible,” while Breitbart TV was branded as “hate speech.”
News aggregator RealClearPolitics.com was also targeted, perhaps because the site includes opinions expressed on conservative websites, even though it attempts to aggregate both sides fairly.
Some websites flagged as “false/misleading” included @dcexaminer @realDailyWire @RealClearNews @NEWSMAX @BreitbartNews @theblaze + @JudicialWatch
What this means is that Xandr slashed ad dollars from these websites based on the idea that their spreading disinfo pic.twitter.com/yhL2F2lXSz
— Gabe Kaminsky (@gekaminsky) February 10, 2023
How does this work?
Corporate houses seeking to promote their products online seek the services of corporate digital ad companies to run their online advertisement campaigns.
These firms contract “disinformation” trackers to obtain private information about the “blacklisted” websites in order to avoid placing their advertisements on them.
The Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a British organization, and its two affiliated U.S. nonprofit groups, based in Texas, are instances of such “disinformation”-trackers.
GDI claims to want to “remove the financial incentive” of spreading “disinformation” by disseminating a “dynamic exclusion list” that rates media outlets according to their “risk” factor.
The “exclusion list” is a euphemism for a blacklist, which GDI shares with ad companies. They’ve compiled a list of 2,000 of them.
GDI’s website site carried out a Disinformation Risk Assessment last year, where it ranks pro-Democrat mouthpieces such as NPR, the New York Times, ProPublica, etc. as low disinformation risk.
GDI also has reports on Misogynistic Disinformation, anti-LGBT Disinformation, Climate Change Disinformation, COVID-19 disinformation, etc. There are five reports about disinformation on the Ukraine conflict.
The definition of “disinformation” is unclear.
But it can be inferred from the content on GDI that any website that violates the Democrat groupthink will be branded as a “disinformation”-spreader and will be blacklisted.
How is the blacklist maintained?
GDI’s “blacklist” was compiled by a group on the “board” for GDI. This includes opinion columnist Anne Applebaum, who branded the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop scoop as “not interesting.”
How is the blacklist implemented?
We look at the influential ad company Xandr, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2021 for $1 billion, as an example.
Xandr subscribes to GDI’s blacklist service.
Xandr informed corporate clients in September 2022 that it would begin adopting GDI’s blacklist to exclude content from advertising spending that is “morally reprehensible or patently offensive,” lacking “redeeming social value,” or “could include false or misleading information.”
Xandr also notified clients that “to enforce this change, Xandr is partnering with the GDI and will be adopting their exclusion list.”
They also added an appeal “webform” to complete for companies that disagree with their “risk” rating.
This is a veiled warning to corporate houses.
Refusing to comply with GDI’s blacklist will result in accusations of funding bigotry, hate, domestic terrorism, anti-scientific ideas, and disinformation. Most corporate houses do not want that kind of controversy, so they submit.
But if curbing falsehoods were really the goal, Democrat mouthpieces including CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, et al. would have been blacklisted. These outlets amplified the Trump-Russia collusion hoax and myriad other hoaxes on President Trump and participated in the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
But instead, these well-funded blacklisters are targeting conservative websites.
Are these just a few private operatives attempting to manipulate the public discourse? No, they are backed by governments.
Like most individuals and organizations who advocate for liberal causes, the ulterior motive appears to be pecuniary gains. The GDI received $330,000 from two State Department–backed entities linked to the highest levels of government. The State Department–backed group that supported GDI is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). NED receives most of its funding from annual congressional appropriations — i.e., taxpayer funds. According to financial statements, the NED received over $300 million from the State Department in 2021. Among those on NED’s board of directors is liberal journalist Anne Applebaum, a dual U.S. citizen at best, who also sits on GDI’s advisory panel.
GDI also receives funds from something called Disinfo Cloud. The State Department’s official website states that “Disinfo Cloud is an unclassified platform used by the U.S. government, foreign partners, and technology providers to identify and learn about technologies to counter adversarial propaganda and disinformation.” Disinfo Cloud was used between 2018 and 2021 by Congress and federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Energy, Treasury, and the FBI. In September 2021, the GEC and Disinfo Cloud announced that the Global Disinformation Index and two groups would split a $250,000 grant award as part of the U.S.-Paris Tech Challenge.
The Washington Examiner revealed that GDI’s two Texas-based affiliated nonprofit statuses generated handsome
profits surpluses recently. Tax records show that GDI’s U.S. charity organization posted $345,000 in revenue in 2020, while its affiliated private foundation saw its roughly $19,600 revenue jump in 2019 to over $569,000 in 2020.
There are many other groups such as GDI that perform an identical function, to great financial gains.
That the government is attempting to curb free expression, guaranteed by the First Amendment, citing disinformation as an excuse, should come as no surprise. Last year, Joe Biden’s Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, while testifying before Congress, inadvertently revealed that the DHS had set up a “Disinformation Governance Board,” to be run by this TikTok enthusiast. Mayorkas wasn’t clear about the powers that the Board would have, but he said that it would “work and to equip local communities, to identify individuals who could be descending into violence by reason of ideologies, hate, false narratives, or other disinformation.” After the intense backlash, the Biden administration “paused” the unconstitutional board.
Clearly, myriad such initiatives must be operating covertly. We already know how Twitter executives colluded with government agencies to manipulate the “narrative” leading to the 2020 presidential elections and effectively rig the contest in favor of the Democrats.
Now for the Big Picture.
The income generated from online adverts is usually the lifeblood of independent news organizations. If this revenue stream is blocked, these websites will find it impossible to sustain. This blocking of adverts is a sly but sinister ploy to control the narrative, much the same way dictators deprive dissident newspaper outlets of newsprint as a means of driving them out of business. They don’t always conduct raids and arrest reporters of adversarial news organization, unless they are revealing inconvenient facts about the Bidens. They just defund these outlets.
In a free market, the sole criteria for adverts should be the popularity of the website — i.e., how many visits per day.
This is another instance of the government interfering in the free market. The end goal is to have a total monopoly on the narrative with no counterpoint. They are trying to criminalize political opposition and differences of opinion.
The First Amendment clearly states that every individual and organization has a right to free expression.
Watchdog groups have the right to call out what they think of as misleading content. The media businesses have the right to challenge that claim.
Government-funded watchdog groups do not have the right to unilaterally blacklist any organization that leads to loss of revenue. Governments do not have the right to favor certain watchdogs seeking to censor critical opinions.
The ball once again is in the court of House Republicans. Their job is not only to investigate this blatant violation of the First Amendment and ensure that the violators are punished, but also to educate voters about these violations of democratic principles by the Biden administration.
It can’t happen soon enough.
Reprinted with permission from American Thinker.