June 17, 2024 - 8:00pm

House Republicans have subpoenaed the Global Engagement Center’s records following reports that the State Department-funded entity was funnelling government money into global censorship projects, the Washington Examiner reported.

The GEC helped fund the Global Disinformation Index, a British ratings agency which purports to fight disinformation by steering advertising revenue away from offending websites through an opaque ratings system. In reality, the GDI targets disfavoured media outlets, often conservative, and starves them of revenue by warning advertisers that the sites are toxic to brands. The GDI attributed UnHerd’s blacklisting to the publication of the work of Kathleen Stock, a “gender-critical feminist”.

The subpoena demands Secretary of State Antony Blinken turn over a list of the GEC’s grant recipients since 2019, along with communications related to GEC grants and agreements with a list of recipients including Newsguard and other censorship organisations.

The GDI also targeted conservative outlets in the US including the Daily Wire and the Federalist, which are currently suing the State Department for allegedly censoring their reporting in violation of the First Amendment. The lawsuit argues that the GEC is violating its government mandate to only address foreign propaganda and misinformation by funding organisations that throttle American reporting.

The subpoena is the latest in the GOP’s push to shut down the State Department’s censorship activities. Republicans are also attempting to block government funding for the GEC by refusing to reauthorise it in the federal budget, and a judge recently allowed the case to move forward in a written opinion emphasising the free speech implications of the case.

The anti-disinformation industry is now facing a funding problem, as several supporters of the GDI were removed from its website this spring following a wave of reports on their censorship of journalism. The US State Department-funded Disinformation Cloud was taken out of the GDI’s public-facing list of sponsors, as was the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and one non-governmental sponsor. The UK government recently confirmed it would no longer fund the GDI, and the push from the US to cut off funding for such projects is well underway.

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.