Investigative reporting by the Washington Examiner shows that the federal government and leftist organizations are now funding the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), an organization that appears to be trying to manipulate advertisers to demonetize right-leaning news organizations.
GDI is a coalition that seeks to create a list of sites that publish so-called disinformation in order to encourage advertisers to stop advertising on those sites, eliminating their revenue. The organization’s website explains,
“To reduce disinformation, we need to remove the financial incentive to create it. Brands unwittingly provide an estimated quarter of a billion dollars annually to disinformation websites through online advertisements placed on them. GDI uses both human and artificial intelligence to assess disinformation risk across the open web. We then provide these risk ratings to brands and advertising technology partners, providing them with a trusted and neutral source of data with which to direct their advertising spend.”
However, the organization’s ratings of the “riskiest” and least risky news sites look to be anything but neutral. The Top 10 riskiest outlets — American Spectator, Newsmax, The Federalist, The American Conservative, One America News, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Reason, and the New York Post — all publish more conservative views.
By comparison, the GDI’s least risky Top 10 — the Wall Street Journal, NPR, ProPublica, the Associated Press, Insider, the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed News, and HuffPost — are all left-leaning except for the Wall Street Journal.
GDI defines disinformation as “when someone pushes an intentionally misleading narrative which is adversarial against democratic institutions, scientific consensus or an at-risk group — and which carries a risk of harm.”
CEO Clare Melford provided further insight into what GDI sees as disinformation. On a podcast in March 2022, Melford said that disinformation is when someone creates an adversarial relationship with people “of a certain gender or color, or ethnicity, or religion, or sexuality.”
Melford explained that disinformation can also be when an organization publishes content that is adversarial to “the media, the judiciary, the police, [or] a democratically-elected government.” She noted that disinformation could be a viewpoint “against science itself,” including “Covid disinformation,” “anti-vaccine content,” or “climate change denial.”
Besides content, GDI says it factors in the operational policies, practices, and past behavior of the media outlet. For example, Reason was given a high-risk rating because GDI claims it publishes no information on authorship, post-publication corrections, or policies to prevent disinformation in its comments section. Robby Soave, a senior editor at Reason, responded by writing,
“…contrary to what GDI suggests, the authorship of Reason articles is clearly communicated to readers. Reason writers link to their sources, and promptly make (and note) corrections whenever appropriate. It’s true that Reason does not specifically police disinformation in the comments section; that is perhaps an area where Reason‘s philosophy—free minds and free markets—clashes with GDI’s.”
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative organization, said, “Rather than confront the debater, they seek to censor them, which is unfortunate.”
The Washington Examiner’s investigation shows that GDI is receiving millions of dollars from left-wing groups, as well as from the federal government. In 2020, GDI received $230,000 from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which received $300 million from the State Department in 2021. GDI also received $100,000 from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center in 2021.
Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley suggested that GDI is the next phase of the government’s effort to censor Americans’ unapproved opinions and speech, writing,
“Goodbye Disinformation Board, Hello Disinformation Index…After yielding to an outcry over the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board, the Administration disbanded it. It never mentioned that a far larger censorship effort was being carried out with an estimated 80 federal employees in targeting citizens and others. While the GDI effort is smaller in comparison and effect, it is an additional facet of this effort.”
The news that the federal government has helped fund GDI has led to calls for an investigation. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., stated, “House Republicans will be hauling these bad actors before Congress, and I absolutely support legislation to ban federal funding of anti-free speech groups.”
Disinformation when used by the left is a political tool designed to shut down debate over viewpoints and ideas and to ensure that only one narrative is available to the American people.
Communist governments use similar tactics to maintain control information and control of power levers. This includes China, where, for example, every printed word or photo detailing the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 has been scrubbed clean from the historical record and where everyone is now forbidden from writing or speaking of it. When shown the iconic photo of “tank man” staring down the Chinese Army, the vast majority of Chinese citizens say they have never seen it, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has pressured Big Tech companies into censoring the photo.
So, let’s call out GDI for exactly what it is: An unconstitutional attempt to censor and punish opposing viewpoints and control the narrative. Time could be spent discussing the faulty artificial intelligence GDI uses or its flawed and subjective view of disinformation, and entire series of articles could be written about how those outlets deemed the least likely to push disinformation are actually serial offenders of disseminating false information, whether that be the Russian-collusion lie, the insistence that Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian propaganda, or that Critical Race Theory (CRT) isn’t being taught in public schools.
Taking time to debate all of that would be to assume that GDI is actually trying to combat disinformation, when it is clear that its intent is to shut down any source of information that doesn’t adhere to its own left-wing ideology and the narrative it is pushing. That means censoring not just the free speech of individual Americans but also censoring the press.
One need only look at the opinion pieces GDI has labeled as disinformation. For example, GDI claimed that an opinion on a survey indicating that conservative women are more satisfied with life than liberal women was misogynistic and therefore disinformation.
The GDI’s efforts are working. Advertisers are, in fact, relying on its data regarding disinformation and its list of media outlets that should be avoided. The left hasn’t been able to get transparent censorship laws passed in the U.S. and the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to create a Disinformation Governance Board was discovered and shut down, so now it’s relying on other more deceptive methods like GDI, hate speech laws, or government collusion with social media companies to shut down content it doesn’t like.
The left was wrong about COVID and the efficacy of lockdowns and vaccines, and it’s wrong about the transgender agenda. No amount of censorship changes that — it only makes it harder for people to find the truth. Rather than blindly trusting organizations who publish approved content, the populace needs to have access to competing ideologies and the full range of information.
The federal government should never be involved in censoring opinions or information on important topics, not to mention censoring a free, independent press.
In John 8:31-32 Jesus tells believers, “‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’”
Much of God’s Word would be considered disinformation to the left, such as the sinfulness of homosexuality, the truth that biological sex is binary, and the commandment that citizens owe their first allegiance to God, not the State. No doubt if they could, the left would revise God’s Word to bring it in line with their own self-serving ideology, just as the CCP is revising the Bible in order to control Chinese citizens.
Yet Jesus told us that if we continue in His Word, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. Those who oppose God want to keep people from knowing the truth, and thus keep people enslaved to sin and in the dark.
Censorship is harmful because it keeps people from knowing information that can help them live truthful and moral lives. Proverbs 18:15 says, “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.”
For this reason, Christians should not fall for the “misinformation” trap, which is a manipulative tactic to enable propaganda. They should oppose censorship. They should oppose the GDI and all government efforts to suppress free speech. And they should advocate for the open exchange of ideas and information in order to increase knowledge and wisdom.
It’s not only the American way, it’s the biblical way.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.