House Judiciary Committee Report Exposes Shadowy Corporate Coordination to Silence Breitbart News, Conservatives

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The House Judiciary Committee released a damning report Wednesday morning with shocking details of corporate collusion to silence conservative viewpoints through targeting Breitbart News, Joe Rogan, and Twitter (now X) among others.

The committee released its report just hours before hearing testimony from Herrish Patel, President of Unilever USA, and Christian Juhl, Global Chief Executive Officer of GroupM. Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) alleges those companies, as members of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s (GARM) Steer Team, may have violated antitrust laws in their efforts to deprive conservative media outlets and personalities as well as companies daring to platform conservative viewpoints of advertising dollars.

“Through GARM, large corporations, advertising agencies, and industry associations participated in boycotts and other coordinated action to demonetize platforms, podcasts, news outlets, and other content deemed disfavored by GARM and its members,” the report reads. “This collusion can have the effect of eliminating a variety of content and viewpoints available to consumers.”

GARM, an initiative of the powerful World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), holds tremendous market power in the advertising industry. The report, “GARM’S Harm: How the World’s Biggest Brands Seek to Control Online Speech”, reveals damning evidence of GARM’s potentially illegal conduct.

2024-07-10 GARMs Harm – How the Worlds Biggest Brands Seek to Control Online Speech[38] by Breitbart News on Scribd

The report also reveals that in a transcribed interview with the committee, GARM’s leader and co-founder, Rob Rakowitz, repeatedly “provided … inaccurate information” and contradicted documented evidence obtained by the committee.

Through its immense power influence, GARM allegedly participates in activities far more serious than its stated aim of promoting “brand safety,” even veering into content moderation of television, social media, and the internet. According to the report:

GARM calls itself “an industry first effort that unites marketers, media agencies, media platforms, industry associations, and advertising technology solutions providers to safeguard the potential of digital media by reducing the availability and monetization of harmful content online.” GARM claims that it was created to drive transparency in policies to help companies achieve “brand safety,” or in other words “transparency on where ads [are] placed [to] mak[e] sure that [advertisers] don’t inadvertently support” certain content on social media platforms. To achieve this goal, GARM asserts that it works in the “content monetization” space, defined as “what content ads actually support and the practice of insertion of the ads online.” GARM disclaims involvement in “content moderation,” which is the “practice and determination of what content is appropriate for hosting[,] recommend[ing,] and [making] availab[le] on [a] platform.” GARM admits, however, that “[c]ontent monetization and moderation are inextricably linked and lapses in moderation put advertising and advertisers at risk[.]” In other words, GARM’s monetization work has the effect of influencing what content appears online.

Documents obtained by the committee reveal the extent of GARM’s collaboration among some of the most powerful global corporations to silence conservative media, including Breitbart News. The report reads:

Internal GARM documents produced to the Committee show a clear bias that infiltrates GARM’s work and favors left-leaning news sources. For example, in October 2021, when Mr. Rakowitz received a question about The Daily Wire, a conservative news organization and media company founded by commentator Ben Shapiro, he contacted two individuals from GroupM: Joe Barone, Managing Partner of Brand Safety Americas, and John Montgomery, Executive Vice of Global Brand Safety. Mr. Rakowitz asked about GroupM’s position on The Daily Wire. Mr. Rakowitz told the two men that GARM is “explicitly nonpartisan” and will not deplatform people that might be counter to GARM’s world view. Mr. Montgomery, however, explained to Mr. Rakowitz how GroupM monitors media it does not support, like The Daily Wire, to find something wrong. Specifically, Mr. Montgomery wrote to Mr. Rakowitz about how GroupM approaches disfavored news sources:

“There is an interesting parallel here with Breitbart. Before Breitbart crossed the line and started spouting blatant misinformation, we had long discussions about whether we should include them on our exclusion lists. As much as we hated their ideology and bullshit, we couldn’t really justify blocking them for misguided opinion. We watched them very carefully and it didn’t take long for them to cross the line.

In other words, GroupM’s strategy when it comes to news outlets offering disfavored views, even before the outlet might somehow “cross[] the line,” is to closely monitor the outlets until it finds something to justify placing the entire outlet on a list of websites on which GroupM clients cannot advertise, called an exclusion list.

Mr. Montgomery then went on to explain to Mr. Rakowitz his suggested strategy for The Daily Wire: “I don’t know Daily Wire that well . . . but we should watch them carefully to make sure they don’t stoop below the GARM floor.” He also suggested expanding the exclusion of disfavored new sources to also include Fox News: “If we block [The Daily Wire] – why wouldn’t we be blocking Fox News?” Mr. Barone ultimately weighed in to explain action GroupM had already taken, “[W]e have Daily Wire on our Global High Risk exclusion list, categorized as Conspiracy Theories.” However, when Mr. Rakowitz was asked by the Committee during his transcribed interview whether he discusses with GroupM its list of news outlets that are worthy of monetization, he denied doing so, claiming: “No. The only discussions is about how frequently they’re refreshed. . . . I won’t get into those conversations to keep myself compliant with our competition law policy.”

One of GARM’s proposed solutions to control advertising on news outlets was to create a system in which only “legitimate news” received funding, and all advertising revenue was steered away from so-called “disinformation sites.” To classify “legitimate news,” GARM stepped outside the Steer Team and approached outside organizations such as the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) and NewsGuard. GDI is a British non-profit whose “core output” is its “Dynamic Exclusion List.” This GDI exclusion list can be used by platforms, brands, agencies, and others to inform their own exclusion lists. GDI’s website claims that it is neutral and independent, but documents reviewed by the Committee suggest otherwise. Based on a 2022 study conducted by GDI, the group identified the “Riskiest Sites,” or those that showed the “greatest level of disinformation risk.” Those ten sites included the New York Post, Reason Magazine, RealClearPolitics, The Daily Wire, TheBlaze, The American Conservative, The Federalist, and The American Spectator. On the contrary, the list of “Least risky sites” included left-leaning news sources such BuzzFeed News and HuffPost. NewsGuard has also come under scrutiny for using incorrect fact checking in its work—for example, flagging accurate stories about the COVID-19 lab leak theory and a Gaza hospital explosion from a misfired Hamas rocket as misinformation. NewsGuard regularly targets conservative media outlets with the alleged goal of limiting advertising revenue.

The report also includes evidence GARM “told its members to boycott advertising on Twitter” after Elon Musk acquired the platform:

According to one GARM member, GARM recommended that its members “stop[] all paid advertisement” on Twitter in response to Mr. Musk’s acquisition of the company. GARM’s internal documents show that GARM was asked by a member to “arrange a meeting and hear more about [GARM’s] perspectives about the Twitter situation and a possible boycott from many companies.” GARM also held “extensive debriefing and discussion around Elon Musks’ [sic] takeover of Twitter,” providing ample opportunity for the boycott to be organized. GARM bragged about “taking on Elon Musk” and “[s]ince then [Twitter was] 80% below revenue forecasts.”

GARM’s concerns over Musk appear related to his beliefs regarding the publication by the New York Post of Hunter Biden’s laptop. The author of that report, Emma Jo Morris, is now Breitbart’s political editor.

The committee’s report says “a GARM Steer Team member expressed concern about Mr. Musk exposing the truth regarding how Twitter was previously used to censor the Hunter Biden laptop and Biden family influence peddling story, describing Mr. Musk’s position as an “overtly partisan take.”

A Congressional report in June 2024 revealed the partisan origins of efforts to discredit the laptop story, finding the CIA interfered in the 2020 election by colluding with the Biden campaign to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story, validating Morris’s reporting.

The Judiciary Committee’s report also exposed GARM’s coordinated efforts to silence popular podcaster Joe Rogan over his opinions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. It reads:

At the urging of its members, GARM and its Steer Team threatened Spotify over alleged misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, because Mr. Rogan stated an opinion that young, healthy people need not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. GARM even admitted it was acting outside of the scope of its work on brand safety, explaining to one of its members that “[b]rand safety is somewhat separate on Spotify versus say Facebook Newsfeed because brands aren’t being slotted into” the podcast. In other words, the companies could easily choose whether to advertise on or avoid Mr. Rogan’s podcast and, therefore, GARM had no business interfering in Spotify’s decision. GARM even admitted the antitrust implications of getting caught, when Mr. Rakowitz told one GARM member that he “can’t publicly advise all clients to do X – that gets us into hot water by way of anticompetitive and collusive behaviors.” To get around this problem, Mr. Rakowitz offered to “help [brands] formulate a [point of view] 1:1.” In doing so, even as Mr. Rakowitz mistook his trade association members with “clients,” such a coordinated action implicates antitrust law.

It continues, “GroupM knew there was no brand safety concern because it did not buy advertisements on Mr. Rogan’s podcast, but it still sought to silence Mr. Rogan’s views anyway.”

The report Rakowitz’s threatening comments to Spotify during the episode, reading “Mr. Rakowitz warned Spotify: ‘This is a statement backed by the Steer Team – which you will recall functions as a board of directors and brings together P&G, Unilever, Mars, Diageo, 4As, GroupM, ISBA, ANA[.]'”

The committee’s hearing, titled “Collusion in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media”, is scheduled for 10:00 am EST Wednesday, July 10.

Bradley Jaye is a Capitol Hill Correspondent for Breitbart News. Follow him on X/Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.


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