The U.S. Department of State reportedly hired German censors to train American teachers on how to facilitate so-called anti-disinformation efforts in the classroom.
Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Media Research Center (MRC) and shared exclusively with The Daily Wire reveal that the State Department paid for trainings for hundreds of teachers “created mostly by German ‘disinformation’ activists.” The “Medialogues on Propaganda,” which featured 11 online training meetings between June 2021 and April 2022 and was attended by some 700 teachers, was funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.
“The intent was to train teachers to ‘inoculate’ students against disinformation that train them in ‘media literacy,'” The Daily Wire reported. “The State Department sessions were used by its activist organizers to promote products from their for-profit ‘partner,’ Ad Fontes, as well as NewsGuard.”
Ad Fontes is a for-profit firm founded in 2018 that advises advertisers, online platforms, and educators about which websites to either boycott or censor. While the company claims to be impartial, its recommendations show otherwise by disproportionately targeting conservative media as outlets for clients to avoid.
NewsGuard is a similar “disinformation” group backed by federal grant money. It operates as a browser extension that rates the credibility of news organizations and has been deployed in classrooms. A study published last month by the Media Research Center shows NewsGuard’s credibility ratings “overwhelmingly favored left-leaning outlets over right-leaning ones.” Prominent examples of NewsGuard’s biased ratings include perfect grades for legacy outlets that botched the Hunter Biden laptop story while giving failing grades to conservative websites that got it right.
The federal government’s use of taxpayer funds to back NewsGuard is the subject of a lawsuit from The Federalist, The Daily Wire, and the state of Texas, which are collectively suing the State Department to stop “one of the most audacious, manipulative, secretive, and gravest abuses of power and infringements of First Amendment rights by the federal government in American history.” The case exposes federal censorship efforts beyond the dramatic discoveries in the pending Supreme Court case of Murthy v. Missouri (also known as Missouri v. Biden).
The State Department did not respond to The Federalist’s repeated inquiries about why the agency did not shut down the propagandist trainings by German censors.
The government trainings were reportedly run by Germany’s University of Würzburg’s Media Education & Educational Technology Lab and the University of Rhode Island’s Media Education Lab with Media Literacy Now (MLN), a non-profit group.
“MLN lobbies for mandatory training in schools to fight ‘misinformation’ and ‘online radicalization,’ boasting that it has helped convince 18 states to make laws on media literacy training,” the Daily Wire reported. “And while the Rhode Island Lab wrote an entire report on the importance of ‘media literacy’ without ever defining it, MLN had spoken more clearly, calling it a ‘tool to create the society we all deserve: one that nurtures racial equity, social justice, and true democracy. Media literacy equals cultural change.'”
University of Rhode Island Communications Professor Renee Hobbs is an MLN advisory board member and the founder of the Rhode Island Lab. According to the Daily Wire, Hobbs previously pressed for $60 million in subsidies for “anti-disinformation work like hers — legislation whose momentum rested on the idea that Russians caused Trump to win in 2016, itself a conspiracy.”
Hobbs played host to the state-sponsored “disinformation” seminars while also serving as chair of a National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) group encouraging teachers to shift their focus to “consumerism and economic injustice.” Hobbs’ Rhode Island Lab also once used a fake, satirical Lego set to encourage teachers to hold student discussions about the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
“When asked why the State Department would fund a propaganda seminar aimed at Americans,” the Wire reported, “the State Department told The Daily Wire that with its $30,000 grant to Media Literacy Now, ‘the U.S. Embassy in Germany supported the participation of German participants in the media literacy program you are inquiring about.'”
The current U.S. ambassador to Germany, Amy Gutmann, was sworn in back in April 2022, just as the State Department trainings were purportedly ending. Before becoming Biden’s ambassador in Berlin, however, Gutmann was president of the University of Pennsylvania since 2004. The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement was established under Gutmann’s tenure, where about ten classified documents were discovered from Biden’s time as vice president that included “top-secret material.” Biden was paid a nearly seven-figure salary from the Ivy League university despite rare school appearances.