Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) are demanding an investigation into reports that U.S.-backed entities funded a foreign think tank that is trying to blacklist and defund conservative media outlets.
The Washington Examiner reported:
The Global Engagement Center and the National Endowment for Democracy, two State Department-backed entities, have granted $665,000 combined to the Global Disinformation Index, which is feeding conservative website blacklists to advertising companies. Now, Rubio and Johnson are calling for an inquiry into how taxpayer dollars have flowed to GDI, which intends to shut down disfavored speech.
In response to the report, Johnson, the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on Investigations, told the Examiner,
Free speech is fundamental to preserving our liberty. If taxpayer dollars are being used to censor voices because they are critical of the administration’s disastrous policies, every American should be concerned. We need to further investigate this potential First Amendment violation.
Microsoft’s ad network, Xandr, has used GDI’s Dynamic Exclusion List to blacklist conservative media outlets. Xandr has reportedly, at least temporarily, removed the negative flags for conservative media.
Rubio, the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said:
The internet was intended to democratize speech and the State Department has a mandate to stop authoritarian regimes’ attempts to silence it, but we’re now seeing just the opposite as governments and corporations collude to silence certain points of view.
“Americans deserve a full accounting of how their taxpayer dollars were used, and those responsible for violating the public trust should be held accountable,” the Florida conservative added.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the ranking member on the Commerce Committee, said, “One of the most disturbing things we’ve seen in recent years is the eagerness of Big Tech to get in bed with Big Government and with Democrats, in the Biden administration, Democrats burrowed into career positions in the Deep State, and Democrats in Congress.”