Disinformation Inc: How conservative media is censored and blacklisted

8 months ago

Gabe Kaminsky, investigative reporter for the Washington Examiner, is hot on the trail of the Left’s latest scheme: using the phrase “disinformation” as a justification to censor conservative journalism. His Disinformation Inc series about conservative media blacklisting is exposing this attack on free speech, resulting in investigations and other actions. Watch now and learn more about actions taken to defund conservatives and suppress truth!

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Gerald Ewalt: Welcome to the First Right Podcast, a weekly conservative new show brought to you by Restoration of America. I'm your host Jerry Ewalt, chief Marketing Officer for Restoration America, and today we are blessed to have Gabe Kaminsky, an investigative reporter for the Washington Examiner. Gabe is hot on the trail to the left's latest scheme, using the phrase disinformation as a justification to censor conservative journalism. His series has opened the eyes across the country and resulted in investigations and other actions. Well, Gabe, welcome to the show.

Gabe Kaminsky: Thanks for having me.

Gerald Ewalt: We're, we're excited to have you, and we're, we're really thrilled to talk about this Disinformation Inc. But before we do, I just wanna know, give me a little bit about your background.

Gabe Kaminsky: I, I grew up outside of Philadelphia. I promise you, I'm not an Eagles fan though, so if that makes me appear any better as a person, then I'll take that. I went to the University of Pittsburgh and worked at the Daily Caller News Foundation as an investigative reporter. Interned at a few other outlets before that, such as the Daily Wire and the Federalists, and now doing investigative work at the Washington Examiner.

Gerald Ewalt: Okay. All right. So let's, let's jump right into Disinformation Inc. And this is a really interesting series and it's something that you really need to peel back the layers of it, cuz there's a lot behind this. Give us a quick synopsis of what this, this program that you're putting together is all about.

Gabe Kaminsky: So what we've detailed in a multi-part series is how, there are several organizations that are aiming to feed, they're compiling blacklists of conservative websites and feeding those to advertising companies with the intent of defunding and shutting down disfavored speech. And so we had, we particularly have focused on a group called the Global Disinformation Index, a British group with two affiliated American nonprofit entities. And that group compiles what it calls a dynamic exclusion list and has been feeding those to advertising companies. And the Washington Examiner actually learned that it was on this list. And there are also several other right-leaning conservative outlets on it. And what it means, if you are on this dynamic exclusion list, is that advertising companies will subscribe to this list and then like they, they will essentially block those websites from, from reaping ad dollars. So that, that was kind of the first part of our series that just kind of explaining how this works and, you know, revealing some of the key players behind this process that I think a lot of people didn't really know about.

Gerald Ewalt: Well, let, let's unpack that a little bit. So, GDI Global Disinformation Index, that's a nonprofit has nothing to do with the government, it's something that is, is a global organization, is that right?

Gabe Kaminsky: That's right. It's essentially a network between Britain and America.

Gerald Ewalt: Yeah, it it sounds really official. That's why I have to ask the question. Right. So, so this nonprofit gdi, and it's not the only one, but we're, we're focusing on GDI right now because they're, they're very well known. So what they do is they, they've come up with a ranking system of how, how trustworthy a new a news organization is. Is that correct?

Gabe Kaminsky: That's right. The Global Disinformation Index, they essentially rate purported disinformation. So they, they, they try to detail the websites that they determine to be publishing information that is contrary to their standards of what they determined to be misinformation.

Gerald Ewalt: Okay. How do they determine their standards? Where do their standards come from?

Gabe Kaminsky: Yeah. And, and we actually published kind of an explainer piece on this because I think a lot of people, including myself, I was uncertain about this and something we've been, you know, were learning on the fly just like everyone else as we, you know, peeled back the curtain a little bit and publish more stories. But basically, you know, you would think disinformation is essentially fraudulent or false objectively, you know, fraudulent information. And so there are certainly websites on the internet that pedal objectively false information. I can say, you know, for example, there's a website called before it's news.com. It's objectively in a conspiracy theory website. However, the websites that the Global Disinformation Index are labeling as pedaling disinformation, first of all, they're, they're all several right of center outlets, including where I work the Washington Examiner. But how they're defining disinformation is through this something they call an adversarial lens, meaning that they determine disinformation is certain ideas that challenge institutions.
And so for example, they, they've, they've said that disinformation is related to covid 19 or per people objecting to certain vaccination mandates or potential fraud in, in certain elections. And I would note that the Global Disinformation Index, they be labeling opinion articles as a alleged disinformation. So we, we published an article in the Washington Examiner, one of our commentary writers. It was a piece based on social science research that said that a data from 2022 that said that conservative men and women are on average more satisfied and happy than liberal men and women. And this was a study, it was not just someone's opinion that was labeled as disinformation. So now they're even labeling empirical data they disagree with as, as being false.

Gerald Ewalt: So they have some sort of system for ranking this, it, it, it seems a little suspect, but, but they have a system and the, our government contracts with them to kind of use that information to make decisions. Is that right?

Gabe Kaminsky: That's right. The, the Department of State has provided resources to Global Disinformation Index, and that's, that, that's kind of the second part that we've been unpacking. A part that's raised a lot of concerns among members of Congress. So this Department of State through the Global Engagement Center and a nonprofit called the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded almost entirely through Congress, they received 300 million in 2021 in congressional appropriations taxpayer dollars. They've given over 660, roughly $660,000 to Global Disinformation Index. The, their, their grants were earmarked for foreign activity, foreign development of risk ratings and other, and other places meaning the, the blacklisting of, you know, outlets perhaps in India or China or some other foreign country. But First Amendment lawyers in Congress have raised concerns over funding at all because, you know, alignment with a group like this certainly would appear to be that taxpayer dollars are going to potentially, you know, blacklist, you know, the free press in America.

Gerald Ewalt: Well, you, you just point, you, you just picked on the, i I think the key aspect here. So our tax dollars are being used to support organizations like GDI to basically blacklist or, or stop free speech, but also blacklist conservative voices.

Gabe Kaminsky: Yeah, that's right. So what I would say is that taxpayer dollars are going to an organization that is engaged in that blacklisting. The money I am not aware is specifically being allocated for domestic blacklisting and the targeting of American outlets. But still money is, people have argued that money is responsible. We are not aware of how exactly they're using their resources. And any pumping of resources in an organization like this is bound to, you know, people move money around that. There's no secret about that. So look, yeah, certainly tax payer dollars are going to a group that is engaged in some pretty controversial activity and, you know, it's raising concerns among Republicans. I mean, just today we were reported first that representative James Conner, the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, he just sent a letter to the State Department demanding a briefing on funding to the blacklists. And he also is demanding documents and communications in relation to that. And he, you know, he intends to hold their feet to the fire.

Gerald Ewalt: So I want, I want to touch more on, on James Comey in, in a second here, a comer, sorry, in, in a second here. But I, I just, I just want to go back and make sure I fully understand. So this, this, these lists out there, these, these groups, they're employing a different, different types of algorithms for, for black blacklisting or saying they're untrustworthy. I I also heard you talk about AI as becoming a big piece of how they do this. Is that correct?

Gabe Kaminsky: Yeah, that's right. And so GDI partly uses ai, but there's other organizations like Integral Ad Science and that's a publicly traded company. And, and so for example, integral Ad Science, let's say that's another big player in this disinformation tracking world. What they do is they have an automatic, you know, AI algorithm that identifies certain keywords or certain words that are determined to be, you know, in the disinformation world. And so, for example, another company that does this is double Verify, double verify automatically labels content on websites as pedaling disinformation. I'd even note that Double Verify we found labeled one of my articles as part of the Disinformation Inc series as, as, as you know, a as a pedaling disinformation, they put a, they put a, a flag on one of our articles to try to, well, effectively they block certain advertising companies from placing ads on it.

Gerald Ewalt: Yeah, I, I bring up AI specifically because this is, this is exactly from the playbook. This is, if we have a problem out there, we'll just let technology solve it. We saw that with Covid, right? We had a pandemic, of course, these new experimental vaccines are gonna solve our problem. We see what happened years afterwards and what what that actually solved. And now we're seeing the same thing on disinformation. If people can't get along, they can't figure things out, what's real, what's not real, we can't figure it out. So let's let a computer figure it out because they're logical and they're unbiased and they're gonna be able to figure this out for us.

Gabe Kaminsky: Yeah, and I think people have raised concerns over the fact that AI is certainly following the models of humans. They're not just coming out of, coming outta nowhere in the sense that they clearly are programmed in certain ways and the individuals programming them certainly have their own biases and opinions of, of what constitutes disinformation. And that's, and that's where you get cases in which AI obviously is going to be beholden to the people who, you know, craft those algorithms and craft that programming.

Gerald Ewalt: So expect more, expect more of AI in the future as we kind of go through this information war, if you will.

Gabe Kaminsky: I would say so. I don't have a crystal ball, but I mean, if you look at with chat, G P T I think I said it right. That's a, that's another, that's a, some, some new company that you, you like type in on the internet on their, on their site and they provide you like an ai, they can provide you AI responses just continually, like if you type in yeah, who's gonna win tomorrow, the Packers bears, they'll give you like a whole accounting. But anyway, all as I say, you know, yeah, I think AI is, is gonna be a big part of the dis info space.

Gerald Ewalt: So, you know, when we, we kind of pull all this together, you, what you discovered Washington Examiner was on this list. And so what we see is many of the, the conservative media organizations fall in the untrustworthy list versus the, the left side of the org of the media organizations are very trustworthy, if you will.

Gabe Kaminsky: That's right. Buzzfeed News, Huffington Post, Washington Post, I believe New York Times is on that list. Wall Street Journal, some other out, several other out outlets. But anyway, I, I do wanna highlight specifically buzzfeed News in Huffington Post now just called HuffPost because buzzfeed news published first the steel dossier that intended to link Donald Trump to Russia. The, the fb the, the Hillary Clinton campaign fed the steel dossier of the FBI covertly. And it was, it was fed to media outlets as a means to take down the sitting president. So certainly one would think that would be constitute disinformation. I'd also note that both of Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, as well as these other outlets ha have pushed the idea that the Hunter Biden laptop story prior to the New York Post was Russian disinformation. Another right, another bogus lie. The hundred Biden laptop is a hundred percent authentic, at least the copy that the Washington examiner has, it's a hundred percent authentic Recommissioned a a secret service agent who, who conducted a full forensic analysis who concluded that it's not possible if there's any other person who could have created that data. All that is to say the, the outlets on that, on left-leaning outlets on that list have certainly pedaled disinformation themselves. And I think that GDI certainly should take a look at that.

Gerald Ewalt: So it's, it's, it's the rules for thee, but not for me kind of concept. So they're able to post whatever they want, even if it's disinformation and their scores don't get affected. So there's, there's definitely a different sta criteria for these algorithms that are, they're putting out.

Gabe Kaminsky: That's right. And I think it's worth noting that individuals on GDI i's board include those affiliated with the left-leaning legacy media journalism space. For example, there's in Applebaum, who's a prominent writer for the Atlantic and other outlets and a longtime lovely journalist. There's also people, an individual from Reuters, I'm blanking on her name, and also another individual who was previously affiliated with the Pew Research Center. So certainly, you know, there are legacy institutions involved with this group that, you know, probably have their preconceptions about conservative news.

Gerald Ewalt: Yeah. And I think as I, as I tie all this stuff together, so all this, the way that this impacts conservative media is that they get defunded, right? So you can't aver well, advertisers will choose not to advertise on your sites. So you, you're, you're pulling out a, a key source of revenue for these alternative news sources and basically squashing them before they can even get started.

Gabe Kaminsky: Well, I don't know if it's squashing before they get started so much, but for example, you know, the, the right does operate a less well funded, you know, media, media ecosystem, places like, you know, the Washington Examiner, the Daily caller, the Washington Free Beacon, and et cetera. These are smaller outlets in comparison to the New York Times, the Washington Post. But these outlets have been operating for a while and very, very successfully. Yeah. But I will say, yeah, like, like you were saying, you know, the opportunity for these outlets to lose, lose out on advertising dollars is clearly apparent given the fact that, you know, through these blacklists, essentially they're just, they're losing out on opportunities to gain advertising dollars with companies. And of course it is a free market. Those companies can decide whether they wanna place ads on X website. I think it, I think what people are concerned about obviously is the government. And second, the fact that GDI is, you know, people, it almost people have said it looks almost like defamatory in the sense of how they're labeling, you know, outlets.

Gerald Ewalt: Yeah, no, no, that's fair. It's def definitely holding them back. So this is, this is a big issue and you, you mentioned James Comer and the work that he's doing on the, against the State Department and, and the things that he's doing on the house oversight and accountability committee. Do you see this going in a better way? Are we gonna start leveling the playing field through this route, or what's your thoughts?

Gabe Kaminsky: So, James Comer is one of several republicans who are beginning to investigate the, the government funding of the blacklist. He, he sent a letter to the State Department today demanding a briefing and documents Jim Jordan of the House Judiciary committee and subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government, Southern lawmaker, who's been, been looking into this and, and could expect to, you know, be, be taking some future action relatively soon. And some senators as well, such as Marco Ruby, Ron Johnson, I will note that they are limited by not being in majority in the Senate. And so I, I would expect this more to play out in the House of Representatives.

Gerald Ewalt: Okay. So there's, there's some momentum here that we're starting to see, which is, which is good news. So, so Gabe, how do people follow the work that you're doing?

Gabe Kaminsky: If you go to Washington examiner.com, you can, you can read all our stories and certainly subscribe. We appreciate that. And we have a tab on the site that's, this says Disinformation Inc. If you click on that, it'll pull up all our articles. You can also follow me on Twitter where I do share my articles at GE Kaminsky, g e k a m i n s k y.

Gerald Ewalt: Well, Gabe, thank you so much for exposing this. It's, it's a, a critical piece to our success, so thank you so much. Thanks. All right, well that's our show for today. Thank you so much for tuning in and supporting conservative media and don't ever forget that by working together and staying diligent, we conservatives can bring our country back to true greatness. Until next week, let's all keep praying that God will continue to bless America

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