I wondered why my traffic on those posts have been down. I knew I was being censored, but at least I know who now and why.
Disinformation Inc: Government-backed group tried to punish sites boosting COVID lab leak theory
This is part of a Washington Examiner series on self-styled “disinformation” tracking groups that are blacklisting and trying to defund conservative media. Here is where you can read other stories in the series.
A State Department-backed “disinformation” tracking group blacklisting conservative news outlets pressured advertising companies to punish websites boosting the COVID-19 “lab leak” theory, which a federal agency now says is the most likely origin of the virus.
The Global Disinformation Index, a British group with two affiliated U.S. nonprofit organizations, has continued to come under fire for feeding conservative news blacklists to advertising companies. This same government-funded entity repeatedly applied pressure on companies to cut ties with websites promoting the once alleged right-wing “conspiracy” that COVID-19 emerged from a lab — which the Energy Department recently concluded is probable based on intelligence.
DISINFORMATION INC: JAMES COMER DEMANDS RECORDS ON STATE DEPARTMENT FUNDING GROUP BLACKLISTING CONSERVATIVES
“GDI is part of [a] disturbing constellation of pop-up censorship organizations that all descended on stifling COVID origins discourse online simultaneously,” Mike Benz, a former State Department official and director of Foundation For Freedom Online, a censorship watchdog, told the Washington Examiner.
A Sunday report by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Energy Department has determined that a lab leak is the most likely culprit for the spread of COVID-19. In 2021, the FBI said with “moderate confidence” that a lab leak is likely the cause of the pandemic, while the CIA and another agency haven’t reached a conclusion.
GDI, which compiles a “dynamic exclusion list” intended for brands to target conservative websites like the Washington Examiner, has published several reports on alleged COVID-19 disinformation. The group notably received $665,000 combined between 2020 and 2021 from the State Department-backed Global Engagement Center and National Endowment for Democracy , a nonprofit group that has said it will no longer fund GDI.
GDI alleged in a February 2020 report dubbed “Coronavirus: The makings of a disinformation pandemic?” that “adversarial narratives” are emerging as a key “disinformation tactic.” The report called out Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) for raising the possibility on Fox News that COVID-19 came from a lab.
“By broadcasting the Senator’s words to a national audience, this debunked conspiracy theory is given authority, validation and amplification,” said GDI in the report.
One month later, in March 2020, GDI released a report titled, “Why is Ad Tech Funding These Ads on Coronavirus Conspiracy Sites?”
The report, which slammed Google and other companies for “providing ad revenue streams to known disinformation sites peddling coronavirus conspiracies,” called out the conservative blog American Thinker for publishing a commentary article titled “The Wuhan Virus Escaped From a Chinese Lab.” GDI also took aim at a company selling N-95 masks for advertising in the article.
“GDI’s own content on the lab leak perfectly fits its own definition of ‘disinformation,'” Justin Goodman, senior vice president for advocacy and public policy at White Coat Waste Project, a federal spending watchdog, told the Washington Examiner. “A growing majority of taxpayers, scientists around the world, lawmakers, and even the Biden Administration’s FBI and Energy Department agree that dangerous animal experiments at the NIH-funded Wuhan lab caused COVID.”
“Yet, in early 2020, before a pandemic was even declared and any investigation had taken place, GDI was apparently using U.S. taxpayers’s money to gaslight the public by labeling the lab leak a ‘conspiracy theory’ and seeking to censor and demonetize media outlets reporting on it,” he added.