by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Global Disinformation Index’s report blacklisting conservative outlets, such as The Federalist, New York Post, Daily Caller, and Washington Examiner, as the “riskiest” disinformation media companies was researched and written by students at the University of Texas at Austin’s Global Disinformation Lab, according to documents obtained by The Federalist.
The academics running the lab held an anti-conservative bias, internal communications show. Those details are among several troubling revelations contained in the 1,000-plus pages of documents reviewed by The Federalist. …
… The Washington Examiner’s expose focused mainly on GDI and the federal government’s funding of it. But the report ranking the media sites revealed the University of Texas’ Global Disinformation Lab joined the enterprise.
That report said a team of researchers from the Global Disinformation Lab (GDIL) at the University of Texas at Austin conducted the review for the “Disinformation Risk Assessment: The Online News Market in the United States.” It was that report, dated Dec. 16, 2022, that targeted conservative outlets, leading The Federalist to file a public-records request at UT Austin in February 2023 for all communications related to GDIL’s work with the Global Disinformation Index on the U.S. media market review.
While the university withheld the actual methodology and research, citing “confidentiality of trade secrets” and “certain commercial or financial information,” the documents obtained by The Federalist nonetheless reveal several concerning details.
The internal documents from the University of Texas’ GDIL show that the Global Disinformation Index, in essence, paid the state university to manage student workers who would then apply the GDI methodology to rate the various media outlets and write the final report.
The students received minimum training for the project. When GDIL struggled to meet the deadlines, the lab manager, Sally Dickson, stepped in to help with the ratings, with everyone rushing the reviews of the various media outlets. At the conclusion of the project, UT Austin retained the surplus funds GDI was paid for the work.