“Disinformation” blacklist story by Washington Examiner set off panic at state-funded lab

“Disinformation” blacklist story by Washington Examiner set off panic at state-funded lab

  • May 25, 2023

Gabe Kaminsky, Washington Examiner

A state-funded “disinformation” lab behind a conservative media blacklist expressed paranoia after a Washington Examiner report on the covert operation, with an employee worrying “if anything will come back to us,” messages show.

The University of Texas at Austin’s Global Disinformation Lab was trained by the State Department-backed Global Disinformation Index to conduct research for a 27-page report in December 2022 that alleged the “riskiest” websites for “disinformation” were the New York Post, the BlazeRealClearPolitics, and other outlets, documents show. Following the Washington Examiner publishing a February 2023 story on GDI that was widely covered by right-leaning outlets and led to Republican lawmakers launching investigations, UT Austin employees feared the university would also come under the spotlight, according to records published by the Federalist on Thursday.

“Their core operational model (which is really at issue and is what we are most removed from) is like the perfect ‘shape’ of thing to capture that media ecosystem’s imagination right now,” one person, whose name was redacted for unknown reasons by UT Austin, messaged lab personnel on Feb. 10 — linking to the Washington Examiner’s Feb. 9 report. “So I think they are really going to be hammered.”

Revelation of the communications comes weeks after the State Department was sued in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by Protect the Public’s Trust, a watchdog group, in connection to its failure to turn over records related to GDI. Roughly one month ago, in April, Oracle announced through the Washington Examiner that it would no longer partner with GDI on a touted “brand safety” initiative.

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