State of Texas, Conservative Outlets Sue U.S. State Department over ‘Censorship Enterprises’

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies
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The Federalist, The Daily Wire, and the state of Texas are reportedly suing the U.S. State Department for funding “censorship enterprises” and blacklisting.

The trio are joining in on a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center, claiming the government agency funded censorship technology meant to bankrupt domestic media outlets with political opinions it did not like.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a rally featuring former President Donald Trump, Oct. 22, 2022, in Robstown, Texas. (AP Photo/Nick Wagner, File)

The complaint cites the law saying that the U.S. State Department is limited to “matters respecting foreign affairs,” and has no authority over domestic affairs, according to an announcement released by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Yet the government agency used a government office meant for countering foreign terrorist propaganda, the Global Engagement Center (GEC), and weaponized it against Americans engaged in what it claimed was “disinformation,” the lawsuit alleges.

It was “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,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims that the GEC has “funded, promoted, and/or marketed” two of the primary organizations that claim to be neutral arbiters of the news while carrying reputations as censors of conservative media — NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index (GDI).

The complaint reads:

The full breadth of Defendant GEC’s censorship scheme is currently unknown. At a minimum, 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”). These entities generate blacklists of ostensibly risky or unreliable American news outlets for the purpose of discrediting and 3 demonetizing the disfavored press and redirecting money and audiences to news organizations that publish favored viewpoints.

The complaint, which also names Secretary of State Antony Blinken and five other officials as defendants, was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas on Tuesday night by the New Civil Liberties Alliance.

“The State Department’s mandate to administer foreign affairs is clear, making its role in the censorship scheme doubly unlawful,” Margot Cleveland, the New Civil Liberties Alliance attorney representing The Federalist and The Daily Wire, said.

The GEC was originally called the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications. It was founded in 2011 with the goal to counter the propaganda of foreign terrorists such as Al Qaeda.
Congress has already clarified that “none of the funds authorized” for the agency “shall be used for purposes other than countering foreign propaganda.”

Mark Chenoweth, an attorney with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, said “the federal government cannot do indirectly what the First Amendment forbids it from doing directly.”

The entity reportedly provides a so-called “Dynamic Exclusion List” of media outlets it deems a “high risk for disinformation.” It then licenses the list to advertisers, who adopt it as an easy way to avoid left-wing boycotts.

The case is The Daily Wire v. Department of State in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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