ERIN ELMORE: US State department sued for covert censorship by Texas AG, conservative media

The state of Texas, alongside two conservative media outlets, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for allegedly funding private censorship efforts to suppress certain media outlets.

Conservative media outlets The Federalist and The Daily Wire joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in filing a lawsuit against the Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), which the plaintiffs argue actively intervenes in the “news-media market to render disfavored press outlets unprofitable.”

The complaint accuses the GEC of funding “private censorship enterprises to covertly suppress [the] speech of a segment of American press.” Additionally, the plaintiffs argue, “Defendant GEC has funded, promoted, and/or marketed two American censorship enterprises: the Disinformation Index Inc., operating under the name Global Disinformation Index (GDI), and NewsGuard Technologies, Inc. (‘NewsGuard’).”

The federally-funded Global Disinformation Index’s clearly stated mission is to “disrupt the business model of disinformation,” while NewsGuard exists to “provide[] transparent tools to counter misinformation for readers, brands, and democracies.”

Plaintiffs state that these media watchdog organizations “generate blacklists of ostensibly risky or unreliable American news outlets for the purpose of discrediting and demonetizing the disfavored press.”

Attorney General Paxton argues that the State Department’s alleged efforts to interfere with media’s credibility “undermines Texas law, which requires social media companies with market power to act as common carriers. Thus, it interferes with the State of Texas’s sovereign interest in creating and enforcing a legal code.”

The law firm representing the outlets, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), said in a press release that the “State Department’s censorship scheme clearly violates the First Amendment rights of The Daily Wire, The Federalist, and numerous similar outlets.”

“George Orwell, call your office: The Disinformation Governance Board is back! Worse, it was here all along quietly operating out of the State Department,” Peggy Little, the Senior Litigation Counsel at the NCLA also said.

“The days of conservatives sitting back and doing nothing while a corrupt censorship-industrial complex actively bulldozes the First Amendment are over,” Mollie Hemingway, Editor-in-Chief of the Federalist wrote in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “We will not stop until this entire corrupt edifice has been torn down, brick by brick, and every single person involved has been held accountable,” she added.

Other federal agencies have been exposed for colluding with private enterprises to censor Americans in the past, as several investigations have revealed. In 2022, the Intercept published a bombshell report that accused the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of “quietly broadening its efforts to curb speech it considers dangerous,” after reviewing “Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms.”

A DHS “anti-terrorism” program was also recently exposed as a partisan initiative existing only to demonize conservative organizations, including Turning Point USA.

Earlier this year a U.S. district court judge issued an injunction blocking government agencies from communicating with social media platforms to restrict user content and suppress information after reviewing the evidence of collusion presented by two state attorney generals.

This piece first appeared at TPUSA.

Image: Title: paxton daily wire