Risky Business: Government-Funded Group Targets Conservative Sites as “Riskiest Online News Outlets”

Goodbye Disinformation Board, Hello Disinformation Index.  Less than a year after many celebrated the disbanding of the Biden’s Administration Disinformation Board, it appears that the Administration has been funding a British group to rank sites to warn people about high-risk disinformation sites. Gabe Kaminsky at the Washington Examiner previously ran a story on the Index. The Global Disinformation Index (GDI) has released its index and every one of the high-risk sites turn out to be . . .  wait for it . . .  conservative or libertarian sites.  HuffPost or Mother Jones (which were also analyzed), but HuffPost made the top list of most trustworthy for potential advertisers. It turns out that the “riskiest online news outlets” just happen to be some of the most popular sites for conservatives, libertarians, and independents. [N.B.: After my Hill column ran, the National Endowment for Democracy wrote to inform me that it had decided to stop funding the Global Disinformation Index].

The GDI is designed to steer advertisers and subscribers away from certain sites, potentially draining sites of revenue needed to operate. The organization issues the index to “advertisers and the ad tech industry in assessing the reputational and brand risk when advertising with online media outlets and to help them avoid financially supporting disinformation online.” The State Department is partially funding the effort. The Biden Administration gave $330 million to The National Endowment for Democracy, which partially supports the GDI’s budget.

GDI warned advertisers that these sites could damage their reputations and brands: New York Post, Reason, Real Clear Politics, The Daily Wire, The Blaze, One America News Network, The Federalist, Newsmax, The American Spectator, and The American Conservative.

The inclusion of the New York Post is particularly notable. It is ranked in the top ten newspapers in the country and the top ten digital news sites. (For full disclosure, I have written for the newspaper as well as many of those on the trusted side of the GDI ledger). The New York Post was suspended by social media companies over the Hunter Biden story before the 2020 election by companies relying on false stories appearing in many of the most trustworthy sites listed by GDI.

The allegedly dangerous sites also included Reason, a website associated with UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, who was clearly gobsmacked by the warning. Reason regularly posts insightful and substantive analysis from conservative and libertarian scholars. With the diminishing number of such academics on faculties, the site is a relative rarity in offering a different take on cases and legal issues. The inclusion of Reason in the listing is absurd and shows an utter lack of objective and reliable criteria. For example, GDI says that the site offers “no information regarding authorship attribution, pre-publication fact-checking or post-publication corrections processes, or policies to prevent disinformation in its comments section.” That is obviously untrue as any cursory review of the site would confirm. The Reason articles contain clear indications of authorship.

Moreover, there is a reason why Reason does not have policies posted on the removal of disinformation: it opposes content moderation policies of groups like GDI on free speech grounds. Reason like my own blog Res Ipsa (www.jonathanturley.org) opposes disinformation “processes” used to limit free speech. As Volokh noted, “Reason does not specifically police disinformation in the comments section; that is perhaps an area where Reason‘s philosophy—free minds and free markets—clashes with GDI’s.”

The GDI reviewed sites on the far left like Mother Jones that routinely run unsupported attacks on the right and debunked theories on Russian collusion or other claims. For example, many of the sites ranked as most reliable only recently admitted that the Hunter Biden laptop 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.

Even in 2021, NPR still claimed that “The laptop story was discredited by U.S. intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations.” After a chorus of objections to the clearly false story, it corrected the story but still stated falsely that “numerous news organizations cast doubt on the credibility of the laptop story.”  It never explained the continuing “doubt”?  Media organizations that effectively imposed a blackout on the story had already confirmed that the laptop was authentic.

Likewise, sites like NPR continued to make the false claim that former Attorney General Bill Barr cleared Lafayette Park for a photo op long after the claim was proven to be categorically untrue. The government-supported news outlet also has been routinely challenged for making biased or false claims about conservatives, including Supreme Court justices.

Nevertheless, the New York Post and Reason are listed as dangerous sites while sites like HuffPost are actually listed at the top of the least risky disinformation sites. HuffPost is regularly challenged on false or misleading attacks on conservatives.

None of that means that I would put NPR or Mother Jones or HuffPost on a do-not-advertise disinformation list. These are sites with a well-known liberal bent just as other sites have a conservative bent. I am not here to denounce those sites any more than I am here to defend the other sites for their content. Rather the concern is that GDI is applying skewed measures to target disfavored sites. It is concerning that the sites at either extreme of GDI’s spectrum of disinformation largely reflect the political spectrum. (One exception is the Wall Street Journal, which is in the most trustworthy grouping).

GDI accuses sites like Reason of lacking transparency on issues like authorship but the group is fairly opaque on its own conclusions and standards. The explanations for tagging these sites are riddled with subjective and ambiguous terms. For example, GDI includes RealClearPolitics due to what GDI considers “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?

GDI further says that RealClearPolitics “lacked clear and diverse sources.” Many of the sites ranked as most reliable (and thus worthy of advertising revenue) are routinely criticized for excluding conservative or libertarian perspectives. HuffPost and Mother Jones have a range of diversity that runs from the left to the far left.

The New York Times has led efforts to exclude opposing voices from the right. In 2020, the the Times issued a cringing apology for running a column by Sen. Tom Cotton. The Times forced out editor James Bennet and apologized for publishing Cotton’s column calling for the use of the troops to restore order in Washington after days of rioting around the White House. (Bennet recently denounced his former newspaper for abandoning journalistic standards of balance).

The GDI disinformation index shows the very favoritism that it attributes to others. For example, in discouraging advertisers from supporting the New York Post, the group declares that “content sampled from the Post frequently displayed bias, sensationalism and clickbait, which carries the risk of misleading the site’s reader.” The line reflects the utter lack of self-awareness of self-appointed monitors of disinformation. There is no effort to explain what constitutes “clickbait” or “sensationalism” in comparison to more favored sites like HuffPost.

The fact that GDI reflects such bias is not particularly surprising. Disinformation efforts have long displayed pronounced political influences and agendas. Indeed, we have seen recent disclosures of how members of Congress like Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Cal.) secretly sought to use disinformation claims to ban critics, including a columnist, from social media.

What is more troubling is the funding of the United States government for a group seeking to target conservative sites and deter advertisers from supporting them. I recently testified on the disclosures of the Twitter Files and the confirmation of coordination by the FBI and other federal agencies with social media companies in censoring citizens. I noted that the Administration played the public for chumps. After yielding to an outcry over the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board, the Administration disbanded it. It never mentioned that a far larger censorship effort was being carried out with an estimated 80 federal employees in targeting citizens and others. While the GDI effort is smaller in comparison and effect, it is an additional facet of this effort. It is not known if the Administration has other programs of this kind and the Democrats continue to vehemently oppose any investigation into these free speech concerns.

In other words, the Board was just a shiny object that distracted from a far more comprehensive effort to censor and control speech on social media. I still would not call it disinformation but one might call it deceitful.

NB: After this column ran, the NED wrote me to emphasize that the Biden Administration did not direct its funding of the GDI.

293 thoughts on “Risky Business: Government-Funded Group Targets Conservative Sites as “Riskiest Online News Outlets””

  1. The suppression of facts has been going on a long time. The manipulation of the media by the most powerful interests–and the post-editing of History itself–is demonstrated by “The Gray Lady Winked” a systemic demolition of the NY Times, entirely ignored by every corporate media thing there is, denied access by C-Span, suppressed by academe. The author describes being told by publishers they could not touch it out of fear of the Times and it’s corporate/academic associates.

  2. 15 FACTS on the Dozens of Federal Operatives Who Infiltrated the Trump Crowds on January 6th at the US Capitol
    February 19, 2023 8:00 am by Jim Hoft



    Parler Telegram Share LinkedIn

    Dozens if not hundreds of government operatives infiltrated the protests at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

    This is a list of government operatives we identified working inside the crowd at the US Capitol on January 6 was started in 2021. The Gateway Pundit continues to add to this list as we learn more.

    FACT 1: The FBI infiltrated the Proud Boys — and their informant exonerated the Proud Boys of any conspiracy

    In July 2022 TGP contributor Cara Castronuova released whistleblower documents, text messages, and audio transcripts of FBI informant James Knowles’s communications with his FBI handlers on January 6. The evidence exonerates Trump supporters and the Proud Boys of any conspiracy or planning to storm the US Capitol, to enter the US Capitol, or to overthrow official proceedings.

    Reminder: Use promo code TGP at MyPillow’s Clearance and Oversight Sale page — you’ll benefit Gateway Pundit and get up to 80% off!

    The evidence reported by Cara at The Gateway Pundit was explosive.

    IT DID NOT HAPPEN as we all know.
    Now we have the proof!

    The FBI had the evidence that there was “no conspiracy” or plans made by the Proud Boys and others to invade and take control of the US Capitol. The FBI ignored this information from their own operative. They ran with lies about an insurrection instead.



  3. So a British group gdi….last I looked we won the revolutionary war and Britain withdrew from the European union centuries later…..so what’s the point here? Who is karerning what they say?

    1. I see the problem….again we are take a “high” school pupils who left our brains at the school house door….(Morse vs frederick) because we allow our tax payer money to pay for gdi. When people who think for themselves would never allow their money spent like that….well like Romney said…blame it on the 53%.

  4. I don’t know about the last half of this show, but the 1st half with Dr Judy is actionable intel I believe for your safety & I know there’s at least 18000 other Docs plus lawyers agree & putting their Cred on the line.

    You should know by now you are in a live fire ww3 war. Is it the Russians shooting at you? The Chinese Commies? Or your own govt/pharma & the rest of the American Hating NGOs/Globalist Banking Trash? You decide Ohio, it’s just you, your families & future Progeny’s Life at stake!

    BTW: The Aholes currently in charge of Our Govt are getting ready to give Ukraine Billions MORE of US Taxpayers money, but not a Ph’kin Dime for the Americans in Ohio & both banks the 700-1000 miles of Ohio River & 100’s of miles past Fort Defiance.

    Is it all just more Nice Cover for all the Serious Health problems of the CV 19 Vaz injury?

      1. Anon,

        I think it’s a far larger issue then some would think.

        By what authority under the USC does the Fed Govt claim they have the legal Right to take US Citizens assets & give the to Ukraine yet deny the least bit of aid to it’s citizens of the Ohio valley that say a 1000 miles have been chemical nuked.

        I don’t think those people & across the US are laughing so much over all this weird faggoty pedo crap no more then I’d be stupid enough to drive through parts of Chicago, LA, NYC, or Tulsa, etc…

        As I posted to Cindy & Hubby Mostlyhonestlawyer this song about the place I still live.

        Re: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWK8GgWD4uA

      2. Anon,

        I think it’s a far larger issue then some would think.

        By what authority under the USC does the Fed Govt claim they have the legal Right to take US Citizens assets & give the to Ukraine yet deny the least bit of aid to it’s citizens of the Ohio valley that say a 1000 miles have been chemical nuked.

        I don’t think those people & across the US are laughing so much over all this weird f*ggoty pe*do crap no more then I’d be stupid enough to drive through parts of Chicago, LA, NYC, or Tulsa, etc…

        As I posted to Cindy & Hubby Mostlyhonestlawyer this song about the place I still live.

        Re: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWK8GgWD4uA

  5. I used to have the utmost respect for Mr Turley, even though politically we could not be further from each other, but his silence on the folks locked up in a Washington DC Gulag for doing nothing but staging a peaceful protest at the ( People’s House ) on January 6th being held for more than 2 years without bail or all other of their Constitutional Rights also being withheld is a God Damn Travesty !
    His complete silence about what has been done to Alex Jones of Infowars.com in a Connecticut Courtroom is probably even worse , but not a word from Mr. Turley ???
    1.5 Billion dollars for saying he did not agree with the narrative of the gubmint at sandy hook and said it could have been a hoax , I say it’s still a Hoax , Sue me !!!
    Mr Turley,
    Please help make this crap right with your once powerful voice !!!
    Freedom of Speech is everything and the 2nd Amendment just insures all the other Amendments to our quickly fading Constitution and Bill of Rights !

  6. Jonathan Turley is going to need to address his employer’s abandonment of journalistic integrity and ethics after Fox News made a conscious decision to keep lying to their viewers after they acknowledged internally that Trump’s voter fraud claims were utter BS.

    They knew. They chose to continue to lie to their viewers and obviously gullible Trump supporters so they wouldn’t lose ratings. Wow. Turley is constantly harping about media “censorship” of the “Hunter Biden laptop”. Now he’s faced with the uncomfortable choice of either staying silent on the obvious hypocrisy and blatant “censorship” Fox News engaged in by not acknowledging Trump’s claims were pure BS or deflect and find some obscure free speech “attack” on some backwoods university?

    This April Fox News is going to be prominently on trial for once again lying to protect their brand rather than follow journalistic ethics and integrity.

    Since we all now know Fox News has been lying for Trump and enabling his BS how can we know they are not doing the sane with the Hunter Biden “scandal”? Dominion may not ultimately win the case, but Fox News will be seen as genuine BS factory.

    1. Huh….utter BS? I bet you thought the fake-vaccines were safe too! They did steal the election…anyone with a brain the size of a peanut knows this. If your head is still in the sand seek out a friend or past friend you now consider a conspiracy theorist, then allow them to educate you on how wrong you are. Everyone needs to wake up or at least act like an adult and seek alternate media to juxtapose your misconceptions. I highly recommend Steve Bannon’s War Room on America’s Real Network or GETTR.

      Last thing…think about this because it’s very simple. Check EVERY news organization, corporation or sports league and find out if…THEY TOOK MONEY from Pfizer. This will be your first “red pill” into your awakening. If they did take money…they were complicit in covering up millions of deaths due to the COVID JAB! They lied about Trump and they continue to lie about COVID!

    2. Svelaz – can you refer us to specific instance where Fox News reported that problems with the Dominion Voting Machines cost Donald Trump victory in the 2020 election or even affected the election?

      1. Edwards, Fox News knew the claims about the dominion machines were BS. They knew early on, but rather than be honest and exercise real journalism they chose to continue peddle Trump’s BS so they wouldn’t lose ratings and viewers. The grand jury in Georgia unanimously agreed Trump’s claims of voter fraud were not true. Trump lost 60 court cases in those claims. Arizona’s multiple audits, even Republican sponsored ones, found no evidence of voter fraud. Trump was lying and Fox News knew he was lying. They chose to peddle his BS because they feared losing viewers to newsmax which was clearly shoveling so much of Trump’s BS that it was attracting Fox viewers away. Fox didn’t want to lose their prized MAGA gullibles and idiots so they chose to continue the BS so they could stay in top of the ratings.

        Turley has an obligation to address this failure of journalistic integrity before he starts criticizing others.

        1. re: “Fox News knew the claims about the dominion machines were BS.”

          No they were not. For instance, can you please explain why the Dominion machines needed to be connected to the Internet, when that method is not and never has been part of the counting process?

          Connecting voting machines to the Internet is a huge vector for vote manipulation and fraud.

      2. Edward, how is that relevant to whether Fox hosts defamed Dominion, which is the allegation in the suit?

        You’re trying to move the goalposts. The case is not about Trump.

    3. You need to get out of your furrow. Internal documents from Dominion have shown the accusations of insecure software were true. There is a 100% blackout of this on all the corporate networks. Incredibly the Fox site itself is not carrying that evidence.


      John Solomon’s JustTheNews (another author who demonstrated the fraudulent claims of the “news” networks) does have this also-suppressed item


      The others all screamed “TrumpRussiaCollusion” in unison but the counter-narrative that was on Fox Alone was the correct one. (Even C-Span piled on the fakery with every AM “Washington Journal” program starting with another pile of slopaganda from the NY Time, Bezos Post, etc.)

      It’s pervasive Mind Control everywhere you turn. C-Span BookTV ignores one of the most significant books on journalism ever written (“The Gray Lady Winked”) because it demolishes the “newspaper of record” using evidence from the pages of the Times itself. Same thing with “Postgate” by the attorney who repped for Mark “Deep Throat” Felt of Watergate fame, probably because it destroys the facade of Bob Woodward, an egomaniac dedicated to the systemic Lie Of Omission that essentially defines corporate media (it really is Fake News based on Fake History). Web search for the writings of Antony Sutton. Or have yourself a “Third Rail” experience and look at the website of the Canceled One, Ron Unz.

      1. There is zero doubt that the Eletronic voting machines and tabulators were/are insecure beyond beleif. There are DEMOCRAT experts who have demostrated that.

        The 2020 Issue is not whether what Was claimed to have occured was Possible – it absolutely was.

        The issue is – Did it occur ?

        We have NOT had the kind of investigation we really needed into 2020 – and it is now too late. Records are only retained for 2 years after an election.

        GA in particular had very strong indications of a variety of problems. But serious investigation was actively thwarted.

        The GBI in the random Signature verification of Cobb County that Raffensberg allowed – found out of 5000 mailin ballots – errors that by law should have resulted in rejection in 300 – 6%, and errors that were CLEAR Fraud in 30 – 0.6%.
        But that was a small sample in a single county – the democratic county LEAST likely to have fraud.

        GA legislative investigations found an error rate in tabulating ballots – the number of ballots that the machines could not read unassisted that was more than 100 times what was mandated by law.
        Everywhere – we have 100’s of thousands of balloots without chain of custody.

        The Civil Lawsuit in GA found hundreds of identical ballot scans int he First batch of ballot scans they were provided, before the case was shutdown.

        The only somewhat thorough examination was the Cyber Ninja’s investigation in AZ. While that did not find outright proof of fraud – it was highly unlikely that you could find that just be reviewing Ballots, they did find that about 50% of all ballots had some issue that violated AZ election law.

        Most election laws – like chain of custody requirements, or that the ballots are printed by the government, are anti-fraud measures.

        When blank ballots are photocopied and given to voters, that is not fraud. But it is illegal and it enables fraud.
        A failure of chain of custody is not proof of fraud – but failing to maintain proper chain of custody makes fraud – even large scale fraud possible.

        When the law, the processes etc are violated all over the place – there is no reason to trust the results.

        Further, it is not actually that difficult to acheive election integrity.

        If you want election officials to follow the rules – enforce them.

        When the courts start ionvalidating elections where the rules are not followed – election officials will start following the rules.

        When election officials that did not follow the rules are fired – election officials will start following the rules.

        Manufacturing businesses today acheive 6Sigma error rates – that is an error rate of 3.4 per Million.
        We should not tolerate elections where 50% of ballots have problems.

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