The State Department helped defund conservative websites

Last week, news broke that American Thinker and other conservative internet sites were the subjects of a successful campaign to defund them by telling advertisers that their content was misleading. That’s bad. What’s worse is that we’re learning that the State Department was helping fund the campaign to defund conservative media.  

The Washington Examiner revealed in a two-part report (here and here) how various organizations claimed to track “disinformation.” That “disinformation,” of course, was anything that countered the Democrat narrative on politics and social issues. American Thinker was among the list of 39 conservative sites that also included Newsbusters, Town Hall, Rush Limbaugh, Daily Wire, Breitbart, etc. Rajan Laad explained how this worked:

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.

In other words, anything conservative was “disinformation.” Armed with these politicized rankings, the ad companies that place “ad package” links on websites refused to do business with conservative sites. Chief among the blacklisting ad companies was Xandr, which Microsoft owns. The result was lost revenue on a massive scale.

There’s worse to come, though. It turns out that the State Department has been funding the Global Disinformation Index (note the third tweet in this series):

Walter Olson, a libertarian, adds to the tweet thread above his take on what’s been going on:

Where I differ from Olson's free-market take is that the GDI indexes weren’t transparent about what the metrics really were. Had they been honest about “this is conservative content, and that is leftist content,” then advertisers would have been making informed decisions. However, GDI sold the premise that it was dividing reputable, trustworthy content from unreputable, false content, even as it was making those decisions based solely along ideological lines.

Savvy people in the ad world undoubtedly understood what was going on and surely appreciated having a justification for defunding conservative sites but, still, the method used was disingenuous, to say the least. (On the facts as known, a class action would not be amiss.)

More importantly, the federal government has no business funding anything that seeks to decide what is good speech—or even what is honest speech—and what is not, so that the latter can be driven from the marketplace of ideas. That is completely unconstitutional in an uncomplicated way.

As a reminder, communism and fascism are the sibling children of socialism. The difference between the two is that, under communism, the government owns everything, while under fascism, the government allows private ownership but controls everything.

What we’re seeing now is exactly what happened in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany: The corporate world happily made itself a subsidiary of an all-powerful state, both because of ideological alignment and for maximum profit. (It's surely just a coincidence that, at the same time, the Democrat party is also embracing racial superiority and ever greater anti-Semitism.)

Image: Nina Jankowicz’s “disinformation czar” lives on. YouTube screen grab.

If you experience technical problems, please write to