The Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a foreign think tank headquartered in the United Kingdom, released an assessment of American online media designed to blacklist conservative media outlets and choke off their advertising revenue. The information is kept on what GDI calls its “Dynamic Exclusion List.”
Ad networks — including most prominently Xandr — which is owned by Microsoft — are now using this list to refuse to allow advertising on conservative media websites.
Microsoft has yet to respond to a request for comment regarding Xandr’s use of the Dynamic Exclusion List, which is censoring conservative outlets.
GDI in December released its report that detailed the alleged “disinformation risk” for the American online media market in partnership with the Global Disinformation Lab (GDIL), a think tank at the University of Texas at Austin that generates policy recommendations and solutions to combat disinformation.
The GDI report on the American online media landscape reviewed 69 news outlets, and listed ten outlets it found are the most at risk of spreading disinformation, and ten outlets that are the least likely to spread disinformation. GDI rated conservative sites as having the highest risk for spreading disinformation and liberal websites as the most trusted.
The report found many left-wing outlets that were the least risky, which include:
- New York Times
- The Washington Post
- AP News
- BuzzFeed News
- USA Today
- Wall Street Journal
GDI labeled NPR, AP News, the New York Times, and ProPublica as the “four minimum-risk sites.” A report from the Washington Examiner detailed that, citing a senior executive, Breitbart News is on the GDI’s Dynamic Exclusion List.
In contrast, the outlets at most risk of sharing disinformation were right-leaning, which include:
- New York Post
- Reason Magazine
- The Federalist
- The Daily Wire
- The Blaze
- One America News Network
- The American Conservative
- The American Spectator
GDI has not responded to several requests from Breitbart News for comment about the nature of its Dynamic Exclusion List and the organizations it partners with, as well as requests to connect with a spokesperson. GDI did not respond to comments requests on December 13, December 27, January 5, and January 23.
After these many press inquiries, GDI has refused to release its Dynamic Exclusion List despite assertions on its website that its work is guided by “neutrality”, “independence” and “transparency.”
Breitbart is on the list – somewhere. But, again, GDI refuses to disclose the full List.
GDI was founded by Clare Melford and Professor Daniel Rogers founded GDI.
According to the World Economic Forum, Melford led the transition of the European Council of Foreign Relations to independent status from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. Before her time at GDI, she was the CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum and managing director of MTV Networks, Nordics.
Rogers is the cofounder and executive director of GDI. Before GDI, he founded and led Terbium Labs, an information security and dark web intelligence startup, and worked in the American intelligence community. He also serves as an adjunct professor at New York University and is a fellow at the Truman National Security project where Biden National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, is a Board Member. Sullivan was one of the ringleaders of the Trump/Russia disinformation narrative.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that GDI also receives taxpayer money from the U.S. State Department’s, Global Engagement Center (GEC).
GDI found that the sites at the highest risk for spreading disinformation “published content with far fewer fact-based Ledes and far more Bias, Negative targeting and Sensational language than the rest of the sample.”
GDI holds that bias, sensationalism, and targeting often result in disinformation.
Critically, GDI does not even purport to say which outlets disseminate actual disinformation – but rather, they purport to say which outlets are at risk of spreading disinformation. The analysis appears to be only forward-looking, trying to divine which outlets may spread disinformation in the future. However, many of GDI’s most trustworthy outlets may have spread, according to GDI’s own definition, disinformation in the past.
In effect, GDI creates a system like Tom Cruise’s famous “Minority Report,” where the disinformation think tank will attempt to predict if an outlet is in danger of spreading disinformation.
GDI said in their interim report that disinformation often relates to adversarial, sensational, and targeting reporting, not necessarily reporting that is false.
The organization defines disinformation as “adversarial narratives, which are intentionally misleading; financially or ideologically motivated; and/or, aimed at fostering long-term social, political or economic conflict; and which create a risk of harm by undermining trust in science or targeting at-risk individuals or institutions.”
Many of GDI’s least risky websites have often exhibited bias, pushed false narratives, and sensationalized stories. These outlets have more of an impact on the American online media landscape as they are often considered the “paper of record,” such as the New York Times, or are ubiquitous wire services relied upon for their speed and accuracy by nearly every outlet in the country.
Breitbart News has reported some of the issues facing GDI’s most trustworthy outlets. They include blatant disinformation about a Russian missile strike in Poland, the Hunter Biden laptop story, and nonexistent Trump-Russia collusion.
GDI says that HuffPost “featured fact-based, unbiased content free from sensational text or visuals.”
Here are some of the more controversial pieces of actual disinformation HuffPost has shared:
- HuffPost, has to this day, yet to retract reporting questioning the veracity of the contents from the Hunter Biden laptop, even though other outlets on this list of reputable sources, such as the New York Times, have confirmed the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop. An October 2020 report from HuffPost still claims that there is “no evidence by either Biden [Hunter or Joe].”
- Karen Geier, a Guardian and HuffPost contributor, in 2018 expressed hope on Twitter that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un would “drop a bomb on CPAC.”
- Andy Ostroy, a political and culture blogger at HuffPost, targeted Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) in December 2017, calling him a “black … prop” during then-President Donald Trump’s celebration of the passage of the Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- In April 2017, the South African edition of HuffPost published an opinion piece calling to disenfranchise white men to advance the “progressive cause.”
- A HuffPost blog writer wrote in January 2017 that failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s inability to win 20 states during the 2016 presidential election means that she is the “legitimate president-elect.”
- A November 2018 HuffPost story claimed that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a Christmas film, is a “problematic” “marginalized reindeer.”
New York Times
The Times, the “Gray Lady,” and the “Paper of Record,” are just a few of the names that have described the venerable station that the New York Times has in society as the quintessential paper in America. However, the paper has lost its way, more so than just covering up the massacre of millions of people under the Soviet Union in the 1930s.
Here are some of their latest controversies:
- In March 2022, the Times casually mentioned in an article that the Laptop from Hell, Hunter Biden’s laptop, was authentic and reported extensively on by Breitbart News Political Editor Emma-Jo Morris at the New York Post, despite originally reporting it as “baroque mythology.”
- The “laptop from hell” also captured international headlines when she, along with Miranda Devine, revealed that Joe Biden was intimately involved in Hunter’s businesses, appearing to even have a 10 percent stake in a company the scion formed with officials at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party.
- It was only years after left-leaning outlets, such as the Times and many others on this list, confirmed for themselves that the laptop from hell was indeed authentic after the pivotal 2020 presidential election.
- Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Company and newspaper publisher, described it as a “huge black eye.”
- ”It’s an abrogation of the trust between the newspaper and its readers,” he added.
- Former FBI Director James Comey said in June 2017 that the New York Times’s reporting on President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election was “not true.”
- The New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet accidentally admitted in August 2019 that the paper was “built” around spreading the Russia collusion hoax, which GDI should note, as they evaluate “disinformation” based on sensationalism.
- The New York Times corrected influential reporter Maggie Haberman’s article to note that only four intelligence agencies, not 17, had assessed that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election.
- In June 2020, the Pentagon released a statement rebuking the New York Times after the outlet claimed that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
- The New York Times reported that most of the United States’ east coast beaches would be gone as a result of climate change and rising sea levels (east coach beaches are still there).
- The New York Times became engulfed in scandal in 2003 when reporter Jayson Blair resigned after an investigation found the journalist engaged in widespread fabrication of sources and plagiarized in at least 36 of the 73 articles Blair wrote since he started receiving assignments with the outlet.
- The New York Times, along with the Washington Post and USA Today, had to issue corrections after falsely reporting that then-President Donald Trump enacted a policy to separate border-crossing parents from their children at the southern border.
The Washington Post has been touted by GDI as a paper that largely avoids sensational or negatively targeted reporting, even though it has occasional bias. It has been rated as such despite the outlet’s rampant targeting of then-President Donald Trump and his administration.
- The Post claimed in a piece that Russian leader Vladimir Putin admitted that he has compromising information about Trump. The Times, the Post, the AP, and the Wall Street Journal also reported this claim.
- The Post claimed that Russia hacked the election systems of 21 American states; a claim that outlets like the Post would now likely say would undermine faith in the democratic system.
- The Post, now owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, had to issue a correction to a January 2021 story in which Trump allegedly told a Georgia state elections investigator to “find the fraud.” In reality, the audio revealed Trump said nothing of the kind.
- The Post had also claimed that Jacob Blake, who was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, was unarmed, where in fact, video evidence shows him holding a knife at the time of his shooting.
- The Washington Post even reported an imaginary meeting between Trump and then-Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai; the outlet had been sharply critical of Pai’s efforts to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality regulations.
- The Post had to admit they lied after pretending a September statement by Donald Trump Jr. in Georgia in October 2021 was “Let’s go, Brandon,” and not “F*ck Joe Biden.”
- The Post, the Times, and USA Today, had to issue corrections after corrections after falsely claiming that Trump enacted a policy to separate children at the southern border.
The Associated Press serves a vital role in the American media landscape; as a wire service, outlets rely on it for quick and thorough stories. It also carries the important role of declaring election victories. But, it also falls prey to fake news and has pushed false and sensational narratives, or, in GDI’s words, disinformation.
- The AP recently botched a breaking news story in which then-AP investigative reporter James LaPorta wrote, citing a senior U.S. intelligence official, that a Russian missile crossed into NATO-member Poland, killing two people. The story set off an international firestorm, in which many wondered if this meant that NATO countries would go to war with a nuclear-armed Russia.
- The Associated Press also in July 2017 released a similar statement to the New York Times which clarified that three U.S. intelligence agencies — not 17 — assessed that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
- In June 2017 the AP invented an imaginary meeting between then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Dow Chemical Andrew Liveris and then alleged some kind of “impropriety” happened during the meeting.
- The AP claimed in late November that Republicans have not provided evidence that President Joe Biden and his son Hunter have “spoken” about the family’s foreign business dealings, where, in reality, Republicans submitted a recording of a Joe Biden voicemail for Hunter about a business deal with a Chinese energy company. Further, Republicans have detailed that whistleblowers reveal how Joe Biden was intimately involved with the Biden family business.
National Public Radio (NPR)
Here are a few of the high-profile stories that NPR got wrong:
- NPR made the false claim in 2018 that Donald Trump Jr.’s Senate testimony about a Trump Tower deal in Moscow conflicted with testimony from Michael Cohen.
- NPR in April 2021 corrected an article that claimed that reports about emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop had been “discredited by U.S. intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations.”
- NPR falsely claimed that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had to work remotely because Justice Neil Gorsuch refused to wear a mask.
ProPublica is a George Soros-funded left-wing investigative site built to attack conservatives. Yet, GDI describes ProPublica as a “nonprofit with an emphasis on investigative journalism,” while ignoring its funding from the fanatical Soros.
- Outside of the outlet’s bias, ProPublica has botched stories. In February 2018, the outlet accused then-CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel of overseeing a CIA “black site” where terrorist Abu Zubaydah “was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture.” ProPublica even claimed that Haspel “mocked the prisoner’s suffering in private conversation.”
- ProPublica now states, “Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them. It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.” To make matters worse, she was not at the alleged black site at the time.
- GDI downranks outlets for targeting and agenda-driven journalism; ProPublica was ranked as one of the most trustworthy outlets despite the outlet soliciting aid from the public to uncover who then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh invited to Washington Nationals’ baseball games.
“USA Today received a low-risk rating based on strong scores across the board. The site could improve in terms of relying on a wide range of sources and being sure to clearly attribute statistics, quotations and external media,” GDI wrote of USA Today.
However, the highly syndicated paper was engulfed in scandal and has reported disinformation, including:
- USA Today faced a dramatic scandal, in which USA Today had to remove 23 articles from its website after an internal investigation found that one of its reporters had fabricated sources and misappropriated quotes for stories.
- Breitbart News’s senior John Nolte lit into USA Today for presenting the Hunter Biden laptop exposé as Russian disinformation.
- USA Today claimed in September 2017 that Russia attempted to hack the election systems of 21 American states.
- Breitbart News reported that USA Today between November 2021 and April 2022, received $230,000 in advertising expenses from the Chinese Communist Party-controlled China Daily.
- Executives at USA Today in 2022 declared Dr. Rachel Levine, the transgender assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), one of the nominees for USA Today’s women of the year.
- Mike Freeman, a sports columnist at USA Today, in September 2022 labeled doubters of a “racist heckling” controversy as “right-wing conspiracy theorists.” Brigham Young University later found there was no evidence of a fan yelling the n-word at a black Duke volleyball player.
- USA Today edited Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams’s op-ed in which she suggested she supported a Major League Baseball decision to pull its All-Star game out of Atlanta after the state passed an election integrity law. The edits made it appear that she opposed the calls to boycott having the All-Star game in the Peach State.
- USA Today’s Hemal Jhaveri was fired in March 2021 after saying in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, that “it’s always an angry white man.” The police said the shooter was a Syrian-born suspect.
- USA Today in June 2020 used an article written by an intern to fact-check a Breitbart News article to assert that amnesty only refers to a permanent pardon, despite that many outlets, such as the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR also refer to temporary relief as amnesty. The fact-check led to Meta to restrict access to the Breitbart News article on a Breitbart News Instagram post.
- A USA Today sports columnist suggested in September 2018 that Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh “should stay off basketball courts” when children are around and not coach girls’ basketball in light of the sexual assault accusation against him.
- USA Today, along with the New York Times and Washington Post, in June 2018 had to issue corrections after falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump enacted a policy to separate border-crossing parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
GDI scored BuzzFeed News highly based on “neutrality and journalistic best practices,” despite the former editor-in-chief Ben Smith becoming infamous for, what Breitbart News coined, “BenSmithing.” In the words of the New York Times, BenSmithing is:
What is BenSmithing? To the Republicans who coined the term last year, it refers to writing an article that supposedly tackles a Democratic Party scandal, but is actually intended to dismiss the issue, something they believe Mr. Smith did often for President Obama.
Here are some of BuzzFeed’s stories that could be perceived as spreading disinformation:
- BuzzFeed published the infamous and unverified “pee dossier” about President Donald Trump.
- BuzzFeed has been labeled as a safe news source by other disinformation organizations, such as Microsoft partner and browser plug-in provider NewsGuard despite their reporting fake news:
- Buzzfeed released a bombshell report in 2019, citing two unidentified law enforcement officials, which alleged that President Trump directed then-personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress and that he regularly told the president and his family about the Trump Tower project in Moscow, Russia.
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller came out in a rare statement and said that the BuzzFeed report was “not accurate.”
- BuzzFeed’s false report caused such a stir that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that he would “absolutely” investigate the report.
- A spokesperson for then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s office released a statement stating that a BuzzFeed report alleging that Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to make false statements to Congress was inaccurate.
The Global Disinformation Index, as a foreign think tank, has injected itself into the American landscape to blacklist conservative media outlets in order to choke off their advertising revenue via its Dynamic Exclusion List. Meanwhile, it ignores the past inaccuracies, biases, and targeting narratives of establishment, left-wing outlets such as the New York Times, HuffPost, NPR, and the Associated Press.