Sen. Schmitt Demands Transparency From State Department-Funded Censorship Group

Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) has called on the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) to disclose its funding sources and partners, according to a letter exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. Schmitt’s letter demands answers regarding GDI’s practice of blacklisting conservative news sites, which he argues suppresses free speech using taxpayer dollars.

GDI, a UK-based nonprofit, identifies media outlets it deems as spreading “disinformation” and shares this information with advertising companies to reduce these outlets’ revenue. Despite claiming to be non-partisan, GDI often rates conservative media higher on its disinformation risk scale while giving liberal outlets lower risk ratings.

Schmitt’s letter expresses concern over GDI receiving funds from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. He demands the organization explain its criteria for identifying disinformation and provide details on its partnerships and funding sources. Schmitt has previously led efforts to expose what he describes as the Biden Administration’s attempts to censor conservative viewpoints using taxpayer money.

“The Global Disinformation Index has masqueraded as a source of truth and accountability for far too long, all while trampling freedom of the press and demonetizing conservative news outlets using taxpayer dollars,” Schmitt told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is yet another example of the Biden Administration using taxpayer dollars to censor information and sources they don’t agree with.”

GDI’s ratings have significant financial implications for the targeted media outlets. For example, NPR and The New York Times are rated as “minimum” risk, while conservative sites like The Federalist and Newsmax are labeled as “maximum” risk. These ratings are sold to online advertising companies, which then avoid placing ads on high-risk sites, effectively reducing their revenue.

Schmitt has asked GDI to clarify its methods for determining disinformation and ensure its processes are neutral. He also requested information on the personnel involved in creating the exclusion lists and the factors contributing to a media outlet’s risk rating. Additionally, Schmitt seeks details about GDI’s research partners and funding sources, including government entities.

The senator’s letter criticizes GDI’s risk assessment as a “government-funded, Orwellian truth test” led by a censorship team. He contends that GDI’s ratings are biased against conservative outlets, pressuring ad companies to limit advertising on these platforms.

This is not the first time Schmitt has taken a stand against government-funded censorship. As Missouri Attorney General, he filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for allegedly influencing social media companies to remove conservative content and information about COVID-19 vaccines. The case is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court.

Schmitt concluded his letter by emphasizing the importance of transparency and the right to free speech. “Frankly put, no single organization or person should have the ability to act as the arbiter of truth,” he wrote.