House Republicans successfully pushed for a significant provision within the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), aimed at prohibiting the Department of Defense from engaging with entities identified as purveyors of disinformation, such as NewsGuard. This move is seen as a defense of freedom of speech and aims to prevent government censorship of domestic news outlets. Representative Mike Rogers, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, emphasized the importance of safeguarding conservative outlets against what he described as “far-Left attacks.”
Amid negotiations between the House Armed Services Committee and its Democrat-controlled Senate counterpart, many provisions were dropped from the final legislation. However, the specific prohibition concerning government funding of censorship technology was retained in the final version of the NDAA, slated for a potential vote in the coming week. This provision has been a subject of contention due to concerns over government support for entities like NewsGuard, accused of exhibiting biases against conservative media platforms.
The controversy stemmed from the Pentagon’s allocation of $750,000 to NewsGuard to explore whether its technology could be utilized for defense purposes, sparking worries about potential bias against conservative news outlets. Critics argue that companies like NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index often label conservative media sources, including The Daily Wire, The Federalist, and New York Post, as disseminators of misinformation, affecting their credibility and advertising revenue.
The provision inserted by the House committee aims to prevent the Pentagon from utilizing platforms that might exhibit personal biases or political preferences when determining its advertising placements, particularly concerning military recruitment. It demands certification from entities involved in military advertising that they do not incorporate personal biases or misinformation determinations in their decision-making processes. If the DoD disregards this restriction and contracts with entities like NewsGuard or GDI, it must justify its action before Congress.
Highlighting broader concerns, The Daily Wire filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s State Department for its involvement in funding censorship technologies, reflecting a larger battle against what conservative voices perceive as an encroachment on their freedom of speech by government-sponsored censorship initiatives.