In an action mirroring the lawsuit filed by Consortium News in October, two conservative publications and the State of Texas on Dec. 5 filed a lawsuit demanding that the courts act to stop government agencies from illegally and unconstitutionally censoring news sites whose reporting contradicts the Beltway narrative.
The Federalist reports that the plaintiffs are suing to stop “one of the most audacious, manipulative, secretive, and gravest abuses of power and infringements of the First Amendment rights by the federal government in American history.” The central allegation is that the State Department is using a counterterrorism center—initially created to stop foreign “disinformation"—to stop Americans from writing, sharing, and hearing views that contradict those of government officials.
The State Department is using its Global Disinformation Index and NewsGuard “to render disfavored press outlets unprofitable by funding the infrastructure, development, and marketing and promotion of censorship technology and private censorship enterprises to covertly suppress speech of a segment of the American press,” says the lawsuit.
The case of Missouri v. Biden has resulted in courts demanding that several government officials and agencies stop telling social media how to make “moderation” decisions. Through the actions of Consortium News (which brought suit in October against the U.S. government and NewsGuard Industries), and now the suit by The Federalist, Daily Wire, and Texas, the State Department is being scrutinized, particularly its Global Engagement Center.
In his reporting on the lawsuit, Matt Taibbi points to NewsGuard and the U.K.-based Global Disinformation Index as being part of a larger censorship apparatus. According to Taibbi, even the 2012 “modernization” of the 1947 Smith-Mundt Act (which had barred U.S. federal agencies from conducting domestic propaganda) still states that no State Department funds can be “used to influence public opinion in the United States.” And 22 USC § 2656 states that the mandate of the State Department is limited to “matters respecting foreign affairs.”