NED cuts ties with Soros-funded Global Disinformation Index for targeting conservatives
The National Endowment for Democracy, a private foundation started by Congress and is funded by the U.S. State Department said it is halting its grants to the index after Republican members of Congress said it was blacklisting conservative organizations with potential advertisers
February 22, 2023 9:14am
Updated: February 22, 2023 9:14am
A pro-democracy organization funded by the U.S. State Department is cutting its connections with the Global Disinformation Index, Soros-funded project as a result of complaints that the group targeted conservative media outlets, according to the Washington Times.
The National Endowment for Democracy, a private foundation started by Congress and is funded by the U.S. State Department said it is halting its grants to the index after Republican members of Congress said it was blacklisting conservative organizations with potential advertisers.
“Recently, we became aware that one of our grantees, the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), was engaged in an initiative, funded by a different donor, that focused on specific U.S. media outlets,” the NED said in a Tuesday statement released to The Washington Times.
“We recognize the important work GDI has done with NED support in other countries to help preserve the integrity of the information space and counter authoritarian influence,” said the statement. “However, given our commitment to avoid the perception that NED is engaged in any work domestically, directly or indirectly, we will no longer provide financial support to GDI.”
As part of the NED’s mission is to promote democracy abroad, the group gave quarter of a million dollars to the index to expose disinformation in China and other totalitarian regimes.
The NED is one of two State Department-backed groups listed as GDI funders, the other being the Global Engagement Center, which reportedly gave the index $100,000.
The Times reported that a State Department spokesperson told the newspaper that the “Global Engagement Center in no way moderates content on social media platforms; that is not its mission or its intent.”
The GDI describes its mission as assessing “disinformation risk in media markets,” but conservatives have alleged the index was really using its data to develop a bias-driven ratings system targeting media that stray from left leaning messaging.
According to the Washington Examiner, “at least one advertising company using GDI blocked advertising dollars from reaching conservative websites and created its own list of 39 media outlets labeled “false/misleading,” “reprehensible/offensive” or “Hate Speech.”
GDI’s funders include Soros by way of his Open Society Foundation.
The NED assured the public that its mission is “to work around the world and not in the United States.”
“We have strict policies and practices in place so that NED and the work we fund remains internationally focused, ensuring the Endowment does not become involved in domestic politics,” said the statement.
Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School said the move was a step in the right direction but asked what other similar programs the Biden administration is funding.
“The concern is still obvious that a congressionally-created and federally funded 501c3 organization like the NED would be engaged, directly or indirectly, in this type of controversial scoring system given its implications for free speech,” Mr. Turley wrote on his blog.
“It is not clear if the NED secured specific funding for this effort from other donors and, if so, why it did so. It is also not clear if the NED could use federal funds and private funds on an interchangeable and discretionary basis.”
Mr. Turley added that “many of the sites ranked as most reliable only recently admitted that the Hunter Biden laptop [story] was not Russian disinformation. For two years, these sites spread this false story with little or no opposing viewpoints despite early refutation by American intelligence.”
He said the GDI report gave a low rating to RealClearPolitics for “biased and sensational language.”
“Did the reviewers actually visit the sites of Mother Jones and HuffPost in evaluating comparative levels of bias? Were those sites paragons of neutrality and circumspection?” he further asked.