While many organizations that ostensibly exist to combat so-called disinformation identify as nonpartisan media watchdogs, a cursory review of their track records seems to prove otherwise.
Now, Republican lawmakers are beginning to take notice of a trend by which such organizations appear to be engaging in a campaign to discredit — if not demonetize — right-leaning news outlets.
Reports indicate that groups including the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, the Global Disinformation Index, and NewsGuard use their respective lists of supposedly unreliable sources to pressure companies not to advertise on conservative platforms.
NewsGuard, for example, gave left-leaning sites an average rating of 93% and conservative sites an average rating of 66%, according to an analysis conducted by the Media Research Center.
— MRCTV (@mrctv) August 18, 2022
NewsGuard CEO Gordon Crovitz defended the organization’s methods, however, asserting that the MRC report did not include a sample size large enough to show the entire picture.
“For example, the conservative Daily Caller gets a higher rating than the liberal Daily Beast, the conservative Daily Wire gets a higher rating than the liberal Daily Kos, and the Fox News website gets a higher rating than the MSNBC website,” he said.
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and James Comer (R-KY), the chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Accountability Committee, respectively, are currently investigating this apparent bias. They are reportedly paying special attention to evidence that the government is providing taxpayer funds to the Global Disinformation Index.
The United Kingdom-based entity compiles “risk ratings” for various news outlets, which it then distributes to advertisers in an attempt to convince them not to support those with lower ratings.
While left-leaning sites like NPR, HuffPost, ProPublica, and Insider consistently receive positive ratings, last year’s riskiest sites according to the firm consisted of conservative outlets including the Daily Wire, TheBlaze, Newsmax, and the Federalist.
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Comer wrote: “Taxpayer funds should never be given to third parties with the intent that they are used to censor lawful speech or abridge the freedom of the press.
House Republicans have requested information directly from the White House and issued subpoenas to two of the organizations seeking relevant information about their activity.
Both GARM and its parent organization, the World Federation of Advertisers, “appear to facilitate collusion among their members in a manner that may violate U.S. antitrust law,” Jordan said earlier this year.