Sen. Schmitt demands state department-funded censorship org disclose funding, partners

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt on Thursday demanded the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) provide information on its efforts to blacklist conservative news…

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt on Thursday demanded the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) provide information on its efforts to blacklist conservative news sites in a letter exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

GDI, a nonprofit based in the United Kingdom, compiles lists of sites — such as conservative media outlets — that it deems as spreading “disinformation” and shares these lists with advertising firms to demonetize the outlets, the Washington Examiner first reported. Despite describing itself as “non-political,” GDI consistently assigns higher disinformation risk ratings to conservative media while rating liberal outlets as safer in its “Disinformation Risk Assessment.”

Schmitt expressed concern in the letter about GDI previously receiving funds from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), which the DCNF first reported, and asked the organization to answer how it handles “disinformation” and to provide information on its partnerships and funding sources. 

“The Global Disinformation Index has masqueraded as a source of truth and accountability for far too long, all while trampling freedom of the press and demonetizing conservative news outlets using taxpayer dollars,” Schmitt told the DCNF. “This is yet another example in a long list of examples of the Biden Administration using taxpayer dollars to censor information and sources they don’t agree with. I’m proud to have led numerous efforts to expose the Biden Administration’s censorship industrial complex, and I will continue to fight to protect freedom of speech and combat government funded censors.”

GDI’s mission of “disrupting the business model of disinformation” has caused substantial financial damage to the media outlets it targets, the Washington Examiner reported.

GDI publicly rated NPR and The New York Times as “minimum” risk level, The Washington Post and BuzzFeed as “low” risk level, The New York Post and Daily Wire as “high” risk level and The Federalist and Newsmax as “maximum” risk level. The organization also produces confidential “exclusion lists” that it sells to online advertising companies for the purpose of demonetizing sites, according to the Examiner.

Schmitt asked for GDI to detail its processes for determining “disinformation” and how it makes sure it is “neutral and independent,” as well as details about its personnel who work on the “exclusion lists.” He also asked for GDI to “provide a list of any factors that contribute to the total score of an individual media outlet’s risk rating.”

Moreover, the senator asked for details about GDI’s research partners and funding, including from government entities

Through its “exclusion lists,” GDI “has operationalized a government-funded, Orwellian truth test—the ‘disinformation risk rating’ of news organizations—led by a censorship team of ‘trained intelligence analysts,’” Schmitt writes. “This ‘risk assessment’ assigns an arbitrary risk scale seemingly based on a nebulous set of left-leaning values. GDI then disseminates this rating to the largest advertising companies, who serve as gatekeepers for advertising across all online marketplaces, search engines and social media platforms, pressuring ad servicers to throttle advertising on any outlet or website labeled as ‘high risk.’”

“Not surprisingly, reports show that your apparent ‘unbiased and non-political’ risk scale has led to major outlets with conservative editorial philosophies,” Schmitt added.

The state of Texas, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), The Federalist and the Daily Wire in December sued the State Department for financing organizations that allegedly seek to suppress conservative speech online.

Schmitt, as Missouri Attorney General, filed a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration over its attempts to influence social media firms to take down conservative-leaning content, as well as information about COVID-19 vaccines. The Supreme Court is currently considering the case.

“As an elected representative of the people of Missouri, it is my duty to shine a light on government and quasi-government actors seeking to silence and undermine citizens’ ability to exercise their right to view and express opinions of their choosing,” the senator wrote in the letter to GDI. “Frankly put, no single organization or person should have the ability to act as the arbiter of truth.”

GDI, the State Department and the Global Engagement Center did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.