by JOY PULLMANN
The U.S. State Department is violating the U.S. Constitution by funding technology to silence Americans who question government claims, says a lawsuit filed Tuesday by The Federalist, The Daily Wire, and the state of Texas.
The three are suing to stop “one of the most audacious, manipulative, secretive, and gravest abuses of power and infringements of First Amendment rights by the federal government in American history,” says the lawsuit. It exposes federal censorship activities even beyond the dramatic discoveries in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case, Murthy v. Missouri (also known as Missouri v. Biden).
This lawsuit alleges the State Department is illegally using a counterterrorism center intended to fight foreign “disinformation” instead to stop American citizens from speaking and listening to information government officials dislike. Other recent investigations have also found government counterterrorism resources and tactics being used to shape American public opinion and policy.
Through grants and product development assistance to private entities including the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) and NewsGuard, the lawsuit alleges, the State Department “is actively intervening in the news-media market to render disfavored press outlets unprofitable by funding the infrastructure, development, and marketing and promotion of censorship technology and private censorship enterprises to covertly suppress speech of a segment of the American press.”
This is just the latest in a series of major investigations and court cases in the last year to uncover multiple federal censorship efforts laundered through private cutouts. The “Twitter Files,” a series of investigative journalist reports, uncovered that federal agencies pressured virtually all social media monopolies to hide and punish tens of millions of posts and users.
Missouri v. Biden found this federal censorship complex has included government officials changing the content moderation and user policies of social media monopolies through threats to destroy their business models. House of Representatives investigations have uncovered U.S. national security and spy agencies creating “private” organizations to circumvent the Constitution’s prohibition on federal officials abridging Americans’ speech. These false-front organizations deliberately avoid creating records subject to transparency laws and congressional oversight, public records show.
Congressional investigations in November revealed that federal officials have specifically targeted The Federalist’s reporting for internet censorship.
In which Sean Davis was censored for saying the best evidence against the integrity of the election was the fact that Democrats/media/Big Tech were censoring anyone who observed their censorship efforts related to the election. pic.twitter.com/r6NdbnSx1f
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) November 7, 2023
‘Coordinating the Government’s Efforts to Silence Speech’
The Fifth Circuit refrained from stopping the State Department’s participation in the “vast censorship enterprise” that Murthy v. Missouri uncovered because, the court said, it hadn’t seen enough evidence of that agency’s involvement. This new lawsuit from Texas, The Federalist, and The Daily Wire provides such evidence.
Even though Congress and the Constitution have banned the federal government from silencing Americans, the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) has morphed into “the lead in coordinating the government’s efforts to silence speech,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit names as defendants the U.S. State Department, GEC, and multiple department officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken. GEC originated as a counterterrorism agency created by an executive order from President Obama.
Through GEC, the State Department evaluated more than 365 different tools for scrubbing the internet of disfavored information, the lawsuit says. The department also pays millions to develop multiple internet disinformation “tools.” It also runs tests on censorship technologies and awards government prize money to those most effective at controlling what Americans say and hear online, the lawsuit says.
State then shares these censorship technologies with companies, favored media outlets, academics, and government agencies. It markets these government-funded censorship technologies to Silicon Valley companies including Facebook, X, and LinkedIn. The tools included “supposed fact-checking technologies, media literacy tools, media intelligence platforms, social network mapping, and machine learning/artificial intelligence technology,” the lawsuit says.
At least two of the censorship tools the State Department has funded, developed, and awarded have targeted The Federalist and The Daily Wire, the lawsuit says. NewsGuard and GDI wield these tools developed with government assistance to deprive government-criticizing news outlets, including The Federalist and The Daily Wire, of operating funds.
They do this by rating conservative outlets poorly, falsely claiming these outlets purvey “disinformation” and are “unreliable.” That deprives leftists’ media competitors of high-value ad dollars from the big companies that use these rating systems. Such companies include YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Best Buy, Exxon Mobil, Kellogg, MasterCard, and Verizon.
“Advertising companies that subscribe to GDI’s blacklist refuse to place ads with disfavored news sources, cutting off revenue streams and leaving the blacklisted outlets unable to compete with the approved ‘low risk’ media outlets — often legacy news,” the lawsuit says.
Boosting Disinformation While Claiming the Opposite
Ratings companies like NewsGuard and GDI base their low ratings of outlets like The Federalist at least in part on politically charged “fact checks” of a tiny percentage of the outlets’ articles. While these companies’ full ratings criteria are secret, in December 2022 GDI published a top 10 list of its most favored and most disfavored news outlets. The Federalist and Daily Wire appear on GDI’s 10 “riskiest” list.