Left-wing “disinformation” tracking groups are working to blacklist and defund conservative news sites, costing them thousands of dollars in ad revenue, according to an exclusive report by The Washington Examiner.
Affiliates of the U.K.-based Global Disinformation Index (GDI) have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars producing secretive lists of non-leftist news sites for large corporations to boycott. Corporate brands seek out ad companies to help promote their products online, and these ad companies are contracting with these “disinformation” tracking entities to tell them which websites they should avoid advertising on.
Such third-party entities blacklist conservative news sites that have resisted some of the false narratives and propaganda put forth by corporate media. The shadowy network of tracking groups labels the content on these independent news sites as disinformation so brands will not offer ads on their sites. The goal is to financially hurt independent publications and ultimately prevent them from disseminating content, the report explains.
While GDI claims to be nonpartisan, its leadership includes leftist activists, according to the report. Its advisory panel is also full of activists aligned with the left, including Meta’s — Facebook’s parent company — global lead for threat intelligence Ben Nimmo, The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum, and University of Washington Professor Franziska Roesner. Applebaum is known for pushing the Russia-collusion hoax as well as participating in the coordinated operation to suppress facts about the Biden family business. She later defended her support of that operation as not a big deal.
According to The Washington Examiner:
GDI’s mission is to “remove the financial incentive” to create “disinformation,” and its “core output” is a secretive “dynamic exclusion list” that rates news outlets based on their alleged disinformation “risk” factor, according to its website. There are at least 2,000 websites on this exclusion list, which has “had a significant impact on the advertising revenue that has gone to those sites,” [GDI CEO Clare] Melford said on a March 2022 podcast episode hosted by the Safety Tech Innovation Network, a British government-backed group.
GDI’s exclusion list of what it claimed were the “riskiest” and “worst” peddlers of what it called “disinformation” include media outlets known for their exhaustive and well-sourced reporting in opposition to information operations put out through corporate media. These information operations include the unsubstantiated claims that respected Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a secret serial gang rapist, the completely debunked Russia-collusion hoax, and the poorly designed and implemented public health response to the Covid pandemic.
The list includes The Federalist, The American Spectator, Newsmax, The American Conservative, One America News, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Reason, and the New York Post.
According to its website, GDI justifies this exclusion list by asserting without evidence that each of these 10 outlets “displayed some degree of cherry-picking facts, omitting relevant information, making unsubstantiated claims, and/or using logical fallacies. Many of the sites that regularly posted this kind of misleading, biased content also used sensational language to elicit an emotional response from the reader.”
In contrast, GDI also ranked what it claimed were the 10 “least risky” news outlets, which include some of the most politically biased outlets in journalism today: NPR, ProPublica, the Associated Press, Insider, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed News, HuffPost, and The Wall Street Journal. GDI claimed that each of these publications — most of which were well known for pushing the false Russia-collusion hoax, the false Kavanaugh rape smears, as well as routinely pushing Democrat talking points — show “minimal bias” and a lack of “sensational language” in their reporting.
There is no mention of the fact that most — if not all — of these outlets published many election-meddling false claims that the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story was “Russian disinformation” or spent the four years of the Trump presidency using loaded and “sensational language to elicit an emotional response from the reader” — that Donald Trump was a threat to democracy, an illegitimate president, and a toady for Russia.
Instead, publications with strong institutional legitimacy and award-winning journalism, such as The New York Post, whose reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop was finally vindicated, and RealClearPolitics, known for publishing rigorously reported articles on pressing issues of the day, were labeled as “high risk” to potential readers.
GDI isn’t the only group that blacklists independent news sites to deprive them of ad revenue, however. The Examiner also highlights DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science, which flag what they claim are problematic news sites and their alleged disinformation to steer clients away from offering ads on those sites.
“The implementation of ad revenue crushing sentinels like Newsguard, Global Disinformation Index, and the like has completely crippled the potential of alternative news sources to compete on an even economic playing field with approved media outlets like CNN and the New York Times,” Mike Benz, ex-deputy assistant for internal communications and information policy at the Department of State told the Examiner.