Rules for Thee, but Not for Me! Gov’t-Funded Disinfo Blacklister GDI Hypocritically Lacks Transparency

January 29th, 2024 1:17 PM

A leftist U.S. government-funded “disinformation” tracker has been flagged for a major lack of transparency, despite its habitual smearing of right-leaning websites for allegedly committing the same offense. 

The Washington Examiner reported on Jan. 29 that the anti-free speech Global Disinformation Index (GDI), which received at least $100,000 from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, is lacking transparency. While GDI claims to rate online sites in part based on possible “conflicts of interests that can arise from opaque ownership structures,” per the Examiner, GDI itself clearly doesn’t practice what it preaches. Despite marketing itself as a nonpartisan and objective arbiter online, GDI has proved to have a leftist bias when blacklisting outlets and doesn’t abide by its own rules, the Examiner found. Hypocrisy much? 

The Examiner quoted Internet Accountability Project founder and president Mike Davis, who stated that “[t]he Global Disinformation Index is violating the law by hiding its disclosures.” Furthermore, GDI (which is under congressional investigation) continues to refuse disclosure of its “dynamic exclusion list” that companies such as Microsoft and Oracle used to block the placement of ads on right-leaning outlets. GDI weaponized the list to pressure companies to withdraw ad money from websites, a form of financial censorship.

The  Examiner reported that it requested tax filings for the two U.S. branches of GDI: the charity Disinformation Index Inc. and the AN Foundation. GDI sent heavily redacted documents in response.

A review of GDI’s tax filings on ProPublica, however, provides some details showcasing its incestuous relationship with the U.S. government and leftist financiers, the Examiner explained. Both the State Department-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and leftist billionaire George Soros apparently donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in all to GDI in 2022 — $315,750 and $150,000 respectively.

In 2023, the state of Texas filed a lawsuit against the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, the Examiner continued. This lawsuit cited NED’s funding to GDI.  Texas, The Daily Wire and The Federalist accused Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other officials of “egregious government operations to censor the American press” through funding GDI and its activities to blacklist conservative outlets. The two outlets were among those flagged by GDI for alleged “disinformation.”

GDI also redacted its 2021 filings, the Examiner reported, claiming an IRS exemption for a “harassment campaign.” But watchdog group the National Legal and Policy Center subsequently argued in an IRS complaint that GDI was actually in violation of federal law.

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