The fallacious misinformation/disinformation industry might be facing deeper scrutiny soon. House Republicans are starting to look into various organizations working to censor right-leaning news sites on social media while also targeting their advertising revenue.
Earlier this year, multiple reports surfaced focusing on these groups, which have been working with Big Tech companies for years to suppress opinions on issues like COVID-19, elections, and others. What was truly galling about this is that the State Department has been shelling out millions of taxpayer dollars to fund these groups’ efforts to silence those expressing opinions that are not government-approved:
Conservative media outlets and journalists are fighting a network of organizations working to kill their advertising revenue by slapping them with misinformation labels.
The World Federation of Advertisers and its subsidiary, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media or GARM, have led the charge in steering blue-chip advertisers away from news outlets whose content it subjectively deems harmful, sensitive or “misinformation.” The British-based Global Disinformation Index and the U.S. company NewsGuard also have developed lists and ratings systems that attack credibility and scare advertisers away from top conservative news outlets.
House investigators have questioned Biden administration officials about funding the efforts and subpoenaed two of the organizations to determine whether their practices are violating antitrust laws.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) is teaming up with House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) in investigating the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) for alleged efforts to “demonetize and censor disfavored speech online.” The lawmakers seek to obtain documents related to these operations to discover whether these groups are specifically targeting folks on the right.
Jordan and Comer are also looking into government funding for the Global Disinformation Index, an organization that attacks conservative and libertarian news sites by persuading advertisers not to place ads on their platforms. The lawmakers are working to determine whether the government is using taxpayer funds to censor constitutionally protected speech online.
NewsGuard is another company that will be under the microscope. The organization gives “reliability ratings and scores” of news sites to inform corporations where they should place their advertising dollars. You can already guess where this is going, right? The group routinely gives higher ratings to left-leaning sites and lower scores to conservative and libertarians outlets:
The conservative-leaning Media Research Center conducted a study of NewGuard’s rating system in December 2021 and found that out of 55 news sites, right-leaning outlets received an average score of 66% and liberal outlets received an average score of 93%.
NewsGuard gave the now-defunct BuzzFeed News a perfect reliability score despite the outlet’s publication of the Steele dossier, which included tawdry and unproven claims by a Russian operative about President Trump. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign funded the initial research for the dossier.
The Federalist received a score of 12.5 from NewsGuard, partly because it wrote about the well-documented questions concerning the efficacy of mask mandates.
If House Republicans are actually serious about addressing this issue, it is a welcome sign. The fact that the government is using money it takes from us to pay groups to silence dissenting speech shows just how corrupt the state has become. It means we are literally paying to be censored based on our political affiliations.
It is not clear whether Congress can take direct action against these organizations just yet. But even if lawmakers manage to cut off the taxpayer funding spigot, it would be a step in the right direction. There is absolutely no valid reason for the government to be providing these organizations with funding – perhaps cutting off their cash flow will make it harder for these underhanded efforts to silence political opposition.