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OPINION

When the Misinformation Authorities at DGI Are Found to Be Trafficking in Misinformation

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Global Disinformation Index (GDI)

It has already been a busy 2023 for the self-accredited thought police, and we are only two months into the calendar. Already this young year, Townhall Media has been on the receiving end of silencing, accusations, classification charges, and other forms of attack on free expression. I recently laid out the numerous ways these efforts directly impacted us just since New Year's. This is an ongoing effort for us and one that appears to be growing, as there is big money behind these purging attempts, and more outfits are cropping up to cash in on silencing conservative expression. 

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One way to possibly defang these attempts is to point out the very selective application of "misinformation" measurements. Not only are the charges looking uniquely targeted to one side of the political aisle (my daily media column frequently points out misinformation in the press receiving no retribution from these groups), but even the very organizations can be found delivering the very type of duplicitous information that would earn a flag of punishment from their thought cops. 

This brings us to the Global Disinformation Index (DGI), the British organization that issues website blacklists for advertisers to follow in an effort to choke targeted outlets from advertising revenue streams. DGI included most of the Townhall Media sites on its blacklist. Now, what is to be said when it is found that the very outlet works on its own level of deception?

The news this past week that the Energy Department and the FBI have attested it is quite likely the Wuhan virus arrived as a result of a viral lab leak has become deeply problematic for many in the media. DGI is no less culpable. This outfit has used, in recent years, the lab leak theory as a litmus test for news sites. Any outlet entertaining the theory, or even merely asking and looking into the possibility, could have been flagged as trafficking in conspiracies and earn punishing marks from DGI.

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One report featured those, like Senator Tom Cotton, discussing the potential of the virus having escaped from a lab. Any site doing so was using a disinformation tactic while publishing "adversarial narratives." In another report, the American Thinker was flagged for a story it ran looking into the matter of a leak. 

In fact, GDI was so ardent in killing off any talk of a lab leak theory, it was found by one government agency to have been pushing to kill off any discussion before there was even an attempt to look into the matter – even before the COVID outbreak had reached crisis proportions:

"GDI’s own content on the lab leak perfectly fits its own definition of 'disinformation,'" Justin Goodman, senior vice president for advocacy and public policy at White Coat Waste Project, a federal spending watchdog, told the Washington Examiner. "Yet, in early 2020, before a pandemic was even declared and any investigation had taken place, GDI was apparently using U.S. taxpayers' money to gaslight the public by labeling the lab leak a 'conspiracy theory' and seeking to censor and demonetize media outlets reporting on it," he added.

Now enter Anne Applebaum of The Atlantic. She is one of many names in publishing who has become tripped up by this new development of the lab leak theory becoming normalized, as she has been noted saying dismissive things on the topic, in keeping with many others in the press. She was called out by Robby Soave of Reason – another outlet that has been routinely targeted by GDI.

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Soave called out Applebaum in particular because her name is among those listed on the GDI website as an advisor to the group. But then, as he contacted the historian on the matter, she informed him of a surprising detail; she explained that she has not had any involvement with the group in years and that she was never even an advisor. Yet here they were, listing her as a current key player.

It needs to be noted that one of the measuring tools GDI uses to grade outlets is whether those transparently and accurately display author names and have verifiable staff. So here we have a vaunted source of disinformation authority found to have long been pushing a verifiably false narrative regarding the lab leak theory, and it has some rather curious revisionism taking place over the past couple of weeks, as it has scrubbed all names of those it had previously listed as advisors and even oddly have eliminated one person who was listed as a founder.

This is rather disturbing to witness – a disinformation policing organization found to be deeply mired in the practice it claims to abhor and call out for advertisers. The only thing more disturbing – it has been funded by our very federal government to carry out its entirely biased blacklisting tactics.

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