The National Endowment for Democracy To Cut Off Further Support for the Global Disinformation Index

I have been writing about “the Global Disinformation Index” produced by a British group funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which itself is funded by the federal government.  That includes a recent column in The Hill. The NED receives a massive $330 million budget through the U.S. State Department. The NED contacted me today after the column ran and informed me that it will no longer fund the GDI.

The columns suggest that this effort should be included in the broader investigations by Congress, so we can have the full facts on what is being done to score or to censor speech. We also do not know the full role or knowledge of the federal government in such efforts.

The GDI used allegedly biased analysis to target conservative and libertarian sites as spreaders of dangerous disinformation. Indeed, all ten of the most “risky” sites are some of the most popular sites for conservatives, including a site offering legal analysis from conservative and libertarian law professors. The group warns advertisers that supporting these sites could damage a company’s reputation and brand.

My concern is how this index contributes to a broader effort to target opposing views or speakers on the Internet and why further congressional investigation is warranted:

“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.”

After the Hill column ran, I was contacted by the NED.

NED wanted to make clear that the decision to fund GDI was its own choice and not directed by the Biden Administration. While the columns do not say that this funding was directed by the government, the NED felt it could be implied for readers. That is, of course, a fair point of clarification and I immediately added it to the columns on the blog. However, it does not alter the underlying concern over federal support for an organization, including the NED, that funds work inimical to free speech.

The NED confirmed that “given our commitment to avoid the perception that the NED is engaged in any work domestically, directly or indirectly, we will no longer provide financial support to GDI.”

The decision is commendable but there remain unanswered questions and I have asked the NED for clarification on a number of points. That includes a reference to a possible different donor supporting the GDI effort. It is not clear if the NED raised this money as part of a more general disinformation initiative and whether federal funds are used in such grants. The NED website has various references to its work to combat disinformation.

It is also not clear how the federal funds are committed by the NED. The email states that the State Department does not exercise control over the Endowment’s grant making. I have asked for an explanation how it uses discretion in the commitment of the federal funds. For example, could federal funds have been used for the GDI and is the source of the funding expressly stipulated as part of the grant? I also asked for confirmation on whether the NED informed the government of its funding of the GDI or similar disinformation efforts.

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. 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.

It is also not clear what type of review the NED exercised over this work.

Finally, I asked to be able to post the entirety of the NED email with this blog. I have not heard back on these queries. I will update the blog if I can share additional information.

I appreciate the NED supplying the information and the clarification on this funding. With thousands of grants, this may be an unfortunate anomaly. The NED clearly does important and laudable work around the world. However, given the federal support for the NED, it would useful to have greater transparency on these issues.

121 thoughts on “The National Endowment for Democracy To Cut Off Further Support for the Global Disinformation Index”

  1. With this comment, ‘… The NED clearly does important and laudable work around the world….” Turley has reached the nadir of nescience and the pinnacle of putrefactive propaganda. His statement is in the same genre as Reagan’s bovine excreta of referring to the murderous “Contras” in Nicaragua as “Freedom Fighters”. Turley has irremediably and irredeemably gone to the “dark side”.

  2. “The NED contacted me today after the column ran and informed me that it will no longer fund the GDI.”

    Good for you! It’s heartening to see rational intellectual activism score a victory.

  3. This is just more proof that our government has too much of our money to spend on crap like this. Smaller federal government means more freedom for states, cities and individuals.

  4. The professor writes early in this post

    “NED wanted to make clear that the decision to fund GDI was its own choice and not directed by the Biden Administration. While the columns do not say that this funding was directed by the government, the NED felt it could be implied for readers.”

    That’s disingenuous of NED or the Professor or both
    1. NED IS the government unless the $330,000,000 we give them is a trivial part of their spending (which seems unlikely given “who’s ever heard of them?) so the funding was “directed by the government.”
    2. The only proofpoint to claim that it was not implicitly or explicitly directed to fund these Brit Orwellians by the Biden administration would be to be transparent about when the funding started. Did it start during the the Biden, Trump, Obama, or Bush administrations? That would explain a lot

    And why is the professor being so bent over backwards for NED. Just post the email. If it was addressed to you, it’s yours to do with what you will

  5. OT here but apropos of a recent column by JT re Baltimore schools, the Daily Mail is reporting today that 60 schools in Illinois have no students proficient in either math or reading. 18 schools in Chicago had students who were not proficient in both math and reading. An Illinois state senator is blaiming COVID lockdowns. But not to worry, the Chicago Public Schools released this statement: “As 2022 academic scores were reported last fall, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) saw that, by and large, our scores were consistent with other large urban districts.” What a relief.

  6. it is CLEAR today’s left are PURE fascists….destroying opponents and stealling money using media, gov., law enforcement, tech, banks, schools, businesses, etc

      1. David B. Benson, the proof is not in the name but in the tactics employed. The Communist did the same thing that the fascist did. Read a book.

      2. David, look at the history of Giovani Gentile. Look at who he was and what he believed because Giovani Gentile can be considered the creator of Italian Fascism.

          1. David, try not to sound like Anonymous the Stupid by requiring others to interpret his links.

            Mussolini, the ruler and, therefore, the creator of Italian Fascism, called Gentile the philosopher of Italian Fascism. Mussolini’s essay on Fascism likely was written by Gentile.

            How can you say otherwise? I know you didn’t understand what you read in Wikipedia. If you did, you would have used your own words instead of playing the part normally played by ATS.

              1. David, you can check it on Wikipedia. Tell us why you think it false, or do you prefer to sound like Svelaz?

      3. “See the writings and statements from El Duce.”

        If you’re referring to Mussolini, it’s “*Il* Duce.” And the subject being discussed is *contemporary* cultural movements in America (e.g., the modern Left’s fascism), not those from 80 years ago in Italy.

  7. The NED is receiving $300 Million from the Biden State Department ? Pretty much tells you everything you need to know. They are hard core in-the-paint loyalists whatever their “explanation” might be. Thank you, Jonathan, for an excellent article.

      1. “just a portion of $330,000.”

        If you want to be picayune about the amount of censorship money, it’s actually some $550,000 over two years.

        But, again, it’s not the specific amount of blood money. It’s the principle.

  8. More deception from the CDC in a new study using George Washington University faculty, staff and students re: “long COVID”. “Long COVID” is a dubious “illness” with no objective diagnostic criteria.

    Professor Turley take note

    The CDC’s Long-Covid Deception

    A recent study exaggerates the incidence of postviral symptoms among young adults and deflects attention from misconceived pandemic policies

    Consider a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that claims to find that nearly 36% of Covid cases among students, faculty and staff at George Washington University resulted in “long Covid.” The study suggests that young, healthy people face a high risk of chronic debilitating symptoms after infection despite being at low risk of getting severely ill with the virus.

    A November 2021 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that many people with persistent physical symptoms that are commonly ascribed to long Covid didn’t test positive for antibodies. A belief that one had Covid was more strongly associated with physical symptoms than a lab-confirmed infection.

    One question that deserves investigation is how lockdowns and school shutdowns may have contributed to putative long-Covid symptoms. A JAMA study last September found that depression, anxiety, perceived stress, loneliness and worry about Covid were tied to a 1.3- to 1.5-fold increased risk of self-reported postviral symptoms as well as increased risk of daily life impairment.

    By exaggerating the incidence of long Covid among young, healthy adults, the CDC deflects attention from mental-health problems caused by misconceived pandemic policies. It also fuels public distrust in the scientific enterprise, which may prove to be the pandemic’s most destructive long-term effect.

  9. Jonathan: So the NED has cut off funding for the GDI. I am sure you are taking all the credit. But the GDI is still a useful index in ranking news sites that specialize in disinformation. The genie is out of the bottle and you can’t put it back. That, of course, rankles you because the NY Post is your most frequently cited source. So we all now know the NY Post gets the top ranking as one the greatest purveyors of risky disinformation. I could have told you but you just wouldn’t listen.

    That said, what other other items in the news should we focus on today? What about “free speech” that is the core of your many columns? Down in Florida 1st Amendment protections are under severe attack. Brian Covey, who was a substitute teacher at Mandarin Middle School in Duval County, was just fired. What was his offense? He posted a video he made showing aisles of empty bookshelves in his school’s library. Covey said “They removed every single book from my children’s classrooms”. In justifying the firing DeSantis said Covey posted a “false narrative”.

    Now I don’t know whether Covey is a “conservative or libertarian”–the usual litmus test you use to determine who is entitled to 1st Amendment protections. But I am sure Covey would benefit from one of your columns showing your support for his cause. He needs all the support he can get.

    1. DennisMcIntyre, I’m trying to figure this out. GDI Listed Real Clear Politics as an unreliable source. This morning Real Clear Politics had articles from the NY Times, Salon, Politico, the WP Post, The New Republic, The Guardian and MSNBC. What GDI doesn’t like is that Real Clear Politics also offers opinions from writers on the right. No voices other than the voices they approve of should be allowed to be heard. Dennis, please justify what GDI is calling for. I’m sure you’ll find something in your bag of tricks.

    2. Dennis McIntyre please post a link so that we can asses the story about the missing books for ourselves. Maybe you don’t want us to see the details so you don’t post your source. We can only asses your post based on your past performance when no link is provided.

      1. Thinkitthrough: I love it when you misspell words. This time it was an inadvertent admission that you are one of many “asses” on this blog. Do doubt you meant “assess” but it was a Freudian slip. And you misspelled the word twice!

        As to the source for the story about the firing of the substitute teacher in FL it was The Hill (2/19/23). You know the publication where Turley regularly appears with columns. Gotcha you again! I know you thought my source was some left-wing site. Sorry to disappoint.

        Do you really think Covey was fired because he violated “social media or cell phone policies”? What specific prohibitions are you talking about? Covey was fired the day after DeSantis publicly complained about Covey’s video. Mere coincidence? And you don’t see a “free speech” issue here? The fact is teachers and school librarians across Florida are removing books from library from shelves because they fear they might be fired or prosecuted under DeSantis’ law. That’s an Orwellian and Fahrenheit 451 world of existential proportions! Just another example of you and Turley having your heads in the sand.

    3. Dennis McIntyre, here’s what you left out about the Florida middle school. In discussion between the district and ESS regarding this individual’s misrepresentation of the books available to students in the school’s library and the disruption this misrepresentation has caused, it was determined that he had violated social media and cell phone policies of his employer. Therefore, ESS determined these policy violations made it necessary to part ways with this individual. As usual you never give both sides of the story. Given enough time Dennis will fall for anything.

    4. Dennis McIntyre hears a little more on your missing books story. This is what Duvall County had to say about the missing books. Duval County Public Schools responded to Covey’s posts, saying that the video Covey posted showed “less than half the story” in a tweet. “Yes, those shelves were empty. But they were in a room full of books,” it added. I say only a charlatan tells half the story.

    5. “But the GDI is still a useful index . . .”

      Absolutely — if you have no arguments or ideas, no ability to engage in civilized debate, are too psychologically frail to handle dissent, and need an “Index” to lead you around by the nose.

  10. Turley: ‘Fear Of Disinformation Has No Basis”

    We’ve all had that friend who couldn’t stop talking about a grievance he had with his boss, landlord, ex-wife, fill-in-the-blank. And every time we see that friend they feel obliged to update us on ‘the latest’. They imagine, of course, that everyone is dying to hear the latest. In reality, most of us are starting to sympathize with the subject of our friend’s grievance.

    Johnathan Turley is becoming that friend. The professor is so engrossed in this culture of victimhood, and the alleged persecution conservatives face, that it occupies the center of his existence. One seriously wonders if Turley can possibly move on.

    Consequently Turley is sounding more and more like a professional sour apple with grievances deeply-rooted in a rightwing universe. Turley is either unwilling or unable to accept the fact that January 6th was one of the darkest days in U.S. history.

    In Turley’s universe, January 6th never happened. There was no election denial, no threat from rightwing militias, no Alex Jones, no Q’Anon, no Russian meddling, no voter suppression, etc, etc. In other words: ‘There is no justification to fear massive disinformation campaigns’.

    In Turley’s universe the only thing to fear are ‘deep state’ efforts to root-out disinformation. As though the existence of disinformation is merely a leftwing conspiracy based on nothing whatsoever.

    1. Your analogy to a complaining friend doesn’t work for two reasons: the grievance is not exaggerated but based on a reality which is carefully documented and explained by the friend, and and the listeners have had similar experiences with the same wrongdoer.

      1. One more difference. We, the listeners, sign up to hear what the Professor has to say. He isn’t knocking on our door, shouting across our fence, All Anonymous needs to do is turn off the feed….

    2. Anonymous, I guess that you and China got it right after all. You and China think it’s a good idea to limit what you call disinformation. We appreciate your honestly after such a long time. Please continue to expound. We all want to see your plan.

    3. Anonymous says that fear of disinformation has no basis. When members of Congress are calling for more censorship that’s enough basis for me. Another no big deal from Anonymous. Second verse same as the first.

    4. The professor is so engrossed in this culture of victimhood, and the alleged persecution conservatives face, that it occupies the center of his existence. One seriously wonders if Turley can possibly move on.

      The Good Prof has an interest in free speech. From the perspective of the Constitution, and the Rule of Law.

      That reality is so far from the fantasy you insist on living, it is little wonder you spend so much time failing to see the big picture.

    5. In reading your reply to this article, it is hard to relate what your grieve to this article. In fact, what Mr. Turley writes here is the complete opposite of what you state. Mr. Turley does not mention any of the issues you raise. He simple questions the use of Federal funds to control speech in America. I strongly believe you may be a DNC Bot.

    6. “We’ve all had that friend . . .”

      And then there’s that “friend” who’s too intellectually vapid and psychologically weak to engage the ideas and the arguments — so he smears the messenger.

    7. What nonsense – Turley runs a legal blog that addresses current events from the perspective of the law and constitution.

      Turley did not choose what Has occured.

      The left chose to be idiotic and censurious. They chose to lie and cheat, and cancel everyone between them and power.

      If this were the 50’s – Turlye’s targets would be Sen. MacCarthy and his ilk in both parties.

      If you do not wish to hear of the vile illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral deeds of the left – that is trivially accomplished.

      Behave morally.

  11. Anyone who follows this blog knows that like the NED, there are more being funded or infiltrated by the Feds to violate your civil rights.

  12. Thank you, Professor Turley, for being one of a handful of free speech warriors. The left will never give up its crusade to bury conservatives and their favorite concept right now is “disinformation “….wtf does it mean? It means they have the only truth. This is a religion in its most extreme form. They have the truth, no one else does. This fanaticism must be confronted and you are doing that, thank you.

    1. seawoman – When they say “disinformation” they mean anything that departs from their narrative. It has little to do with the concept of truth, which is something they don’t believe exists anyway. As you have rightly perceived it’s a power play.

    2. seawoman127: “disinformation “….wtf does it mean?
      I’ve been asking the same thing. Ironically, here’s what says about its first use:

      “First recorded in 1965–70; dis-1 + information, as translation of Russian dezinformátsiya, from French désinform(er) “to misinform” + Russian -atsiya (ultimately from Latin -ātiō; see -ation)”

      Orwell is spinning in his grave.

  13. Thank you professor for keeping up the good fight.
    For exposing those who would undermine our 1stA rights. Whom would embrace a totalitarian like government, and suppress free speech, freedom, and liberty.
    We see those who are anti-1stA, anti-2ndA, anti-The Constitution, anti-Liberty here on your blog on a daily basis.
    They are everything contrary to what America is about.
    I have no problem with them speaking to their opinion.
    It is when they go full on Mao Red Guard, then, I have . . . . feelings.

    1. If it is any comfort, I get my haircut in Mechanicsville, a true redneck town outside of Richmond. The area is solidly blue, what with Richmond being 50% black. Yet, a trip to my barbershop, with patrons being white, black, and a few Injuns, the patrons exchange stories of the latest guns and rifles they have purchased, the red dot, ammo and holsters. One of the customers sold me dirt cheap a holster for my Glock 26. Oh, they are now solidly anti-Democrat ever since the coup the DNC pulled against Donald Trump. So, dont believe the trolls nor the news. Regular folk who were once Democrats in my blue state now seethe at the liberal media and dare anyone to take away their constitutional rights.

      true story: a recent visit to the barber gave me a chuckle. I walked into the shop, greeted the folks as I always do, sat down to mind my own business, and my barber immediately pointed at me with this salvo: “the doctor here is the most anti-communist person you will ever meet”. And with that we all piled on the Democrats.


  14. What I said on the main article evidently needs to be repeated here. This is about government funding of an anti-free-speech index, hence, the overbearing state is deciding for us what is and isn’t permitted in terms of political opinion. In response, the mantra from leftists on this forum is that some private conservative or libertarian organizations also have an index. They are well aware that is a red herring since they never claim these are government sponsored. Don’t fall for it.

    1. oldmanfromkansas,
      Well said!
      All true Americans are pro-1stA, 2ndA and the whole rest of the Constitution.
      It applies to everyone. Not just Republicans, or Libertarians, but everyone.
      We, The People, does not say We, The White People. Or We, The Straight People. Or, We, the Top 1% of the rest of American.
      It applies to everyone.
      That is something the Leftists do not seem to understand. Hence they seek to silence anyone whom would dissent from their POV.
      We must fight against them. We must highlight The Constitution, the 1stA, the 2ndA and the rest of the Bill Of Rights. To show every American that the Leftists do not have their best interest in mind. But they are most interested in power and control.
      Fight them, and fight them we must.

      1. That is something the Leftists do not seem to understand.

        I would argue they understand, but the idea of actually applying the constitution is not a priority for them, since it gets in the way of their plans to “burn it all down.” In brief: Leftist politics is where the Constitution goes to die.

        1. oldmanfromkansas,
          Recently I read an article questioning the motives of the Soros backed DAs in deep Blue cities. By promoting de-fund the police, weak on crime, or no cash bail policies are they trying to promote crime and chaos to destabilize democracy? To make the situation so bad the only solution is to go full on martial state? To give Biden the excuse to suspend The Constitution, elections, our rights and impose a banana republic like dictatorship?
          When I first read it, I thought it was kinda out there.
          At the same time, I could see it coming to pass.

          1. I think you’ve stated it accurately. The Left wants to burn it all down so they can rebuild in their image. Appointing imbeciles and incompetents to fill high-level cabinet posts in the federal government is part of that plan.

          2. Perhaps GS got the idea from Robert Ludlum’s “The Aquitaine Progression.” Create chaos through violence and foment fear so the generals (or GS et al) can achieve world domination. As I recall, the good guys win. Der Toller Puppenmeister is at work.

          3. I think you are on to something, Farmer, in terms of the left being fully aware of what it is doing and doing it on purpose to end United States democracy as we know it. The major issue I follow is Medicare (and by default SS gets mixed in there too).

            As you know the current leftist rant in politics, social media and from the usual suspects in the press is that Republicans want to cut/dissolve/sunset/… Medicare and SS. As seems to always be the case, the truth is just the opposite of the rant. It’s the Dems who are cutting Medicare and SS. Under the Biden Administration
            – SS/Medicare Part A crash/burn in 8/3 years, 25% cuts each (and after Medicare Part A hospitals and SNFs took a 15% cut to “fund”-* Obamacare)-see Biden SS/Medicare Trustees’ annual reports
            – Part D drug availability and pricing as we know it was ended last year-Biden is actually proud of this and keeps lying about it and vaccines and $35/mo insulin, which actually started three years ago
            – Part B MDs cut 2% this year so fewer MDs will see we seniors-Biden wanted 4% and the AMA got Congress to cut it back to 2% (this annual Kabuki dance about MD Medicare Part B fees actually goes back to Newt Gingrich so not totally to be blamed on the left)

            So you have to ask is the left just stupid to not want to reform the programs before these events happen/worsen and as suggested by multiple bipartisan commissions and groups years ago. Or is there another reason. The answer, Farmer, is the latter: to end United States democracy as we know it. The leftist end game for Medicare and Social Security is that when these programs inevitably fail (they say so themselves), they believe the people will demand Bernie Sanders Medicaid for All and Andrew Yang’s Universal Base Income (for all)
            *”Fund” in quotes because although the cuts were real, they only “funded” Obamacare in the sense that it allowed the CBO to score Obamacare as costing much less than it actually has cost because the “cut” Medicare money moved to years outside the CBOs then 10-year window

  15. Regardless of who or why it’s being funded the GDI is just an index like any of the indexes conservatives use on their non-profits. Turley is deliberately mischaracterizing the whole purpose of the index to sow distrust and animosity.

    1. Regardless of who or why it’s being funded the GDI is just an index like any of the indexes conservatives use on their non-profits

      An honest person would include the fact of the United States Government funding this particular index.

  16. 🤔 That was a bit too easy. When was the last time the Left changed course without the courts putting up a roadblock? I’d say look for the tentacles they want to distract us from seeing.

  17. Wow. Thank you so much for your devotion, Professor. This is what it’s going to take. May many more come on board.

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