- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2023

A House Republican is demanding that the State Department stop funding the Global Disinformation Index in Britain, saying it leads to censorship and particularly censorship of conservative news outlets.

Rep. Ken Buck, Colorado Republican, asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a letter to “cease all current and future taxpayer funding of the GDI” and spell out how much U.S. funding is spent on third-party groups that “implicate the rights of free speech of American citizens.”

The lawmaker also wants to know whether the State Department has information about GDI’s methodology that places news organizations and individuals on its blacklist.

“The GDI has used this funding to create a list of news organizations for advertisers and business interests to abstain from doing business with in an attempt to limit these organizations’ participation in the marketplace of ideas,” Mr. Buck wrote in a letter to Mr. Blinken. “This organization has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the U.S. taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy and the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.”

The funding amounts to about $545,000 from the National Endowment for Democracy and $100,000 from the GEC, Fox News Digital reported.

“Paying foreign (and domestic) entities to perform what is essentially censorship is troubling on two fronts: it wastes taxpayer funds and undermines constitutional protections for freedom of speech,” Mr. Buck wrote.

Mr. Buck’s office said the funding controversy surfaced after the Biden administration “failed to publicly implement their [Department of Homeland Security’s] Disinformation Governance Board, the ‘Ministry of Truth,’ due to widespread backlash.”

“They have apparently chosen to quietly fund foreign disinformation organizations in an attempt to blacklist, censor, and deny viewership to right-leaning news organizations,” his office said.

GDI’s report last December titled “Disinformation Risk Assessment: The Online News Market in the United States” placed numerous conservative outlets, including The Washington Times, New York Post, The Federalist, Newsmax, American Conservative and One America News, among its “highest levels” of disinformation category.

The group ranked outfits including The Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News and HuffPost in the category of “least risky.”

The National Endowment for Democracy is listed on the GDI website as a funder, as is the Open Society Foundations, which liberal billionaire George Soros founded as the principal vehicle for donating to his favored causes.

A State Department spokesperson pushed back previously on the claims, saying that the “Global Engagement Center in no way moderates content on social media platforms; that is not its mission or its intent.”

“The role of the GEC is to identify foreign state and non-state disinformation narratives, trends and techniques aimed at undermining or influencing the policies, security or stability of the United States, U.S. allies and partner nations,” the spokesperson told The Washington Times.

The department also said that the “Global Disinformation Index was put together for an international partnership of professionals who were looking at which nations were most resistant to disinformation.”

National Endowment for Democracy spokesperson Leslie Aun said her organization gave two grants to GDI, but not to police U.S. political speech.

The grants were “very narrowly focused on an initiative to identify and combat the disinformation flowing from authoritarian regimes, particularly China,” she told The Times.

• Valerie Richardson contributed to this report.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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