Onetime Disinformation Donors Back Left-Wing Propaganda Targeting Disinformation
On Tuesday, political media outlet Axios reported on the latest project of controversial Democratic operative Tara McGowan, best known as head of the ACRONYM network of Democratic-aligned political committees and political investment vehicles including Shadow, which created the phone-voting application that crashed during the Iowa Democratic Party presidential nominating caucuses in 2020. McGowan will head Good Information, a nominally for-profit “public benefit corporation” venture “to fund and scale businesses that cut through echo chambers with fact-based information” and “to invest in local news companies.” The venture supersedes an earlier reported effort to create a nonprofit along the same lines.
Axios’s reporting indicates that McGowan’s project will be funded by major Democratic donors including George Soros. That is not surprising, but another name said to be funding this “anti-disinformation” effort should raise eyebrows because he has supported purveyors of disinformation in the past: Reid Hoffman, billionaire founder of LinkedIn.
Since 2016, Hoffman has provided substantial funding to Democratic political causes, among them McGowan’s ACRONYM, through his Investing in US vehicle. But one of those causes should give the lie to Hoffman’s claims of concern about disinformation. Investing in US funded American Emergent Technologies, one of a handful of Democratic groups that allegedly ran a literal fake news campaign modeled on the tactics Russian government cutouts allegedly used to influence the 2016 presidential election in order to defeat a Republican candidate in an Alabama race.
While Hoffman denies having known that American Emergent Technologies was engaging in a disinformation operation, the fact that he funded a group that would consider doing such a thing should be a giant red flag against Good Information’s and McGowan’s claim that they will provide “fact-based information.”
As part of the creation of Good Information, the group is acquiring McGowan’s former liberal agitprop network, Courier Newsroom. Courier Newsroom was a front for ACRONYM, operating what the left-leaning OpenSecrets called “a network of websites emulating progressive local news outlets. Courier has faced scrutiny for exploiting the collapse of local journalism to spread ‘hyperlocal partisan propaganda.’” As CRC president Scott Walter described:
Courier’s Wisconsin site UpNorthNews can lightly rewrite a Democratic candidate’s press release, and then the real money kicks in as the disinfo machine advertises the fake news story across multiple social media sites, in hopes of swaying Badger State voters who assume they’re reading news, not a political ad. Tobias Hoonhout reported for National Review on a number of such efforts and found that “at least 74 percent of the group’s spending has been allocated to boosting vulnerable Democrats competing in 14 competitive House races.”
McGowan reportedly told Axios that Good Information “could make investments in entities across the political spectrum,” citing Bill Kristol’s The Bulwark, which I recently characterized as a repository of liberal cable-news-contributing former Republicans who seemingly exist solely to support whatever the liberalism of the moment demands, as “as an example of the type of center-right news outlet [Good Information] could fund.”
The Greater “Disinformation” Trojan Horse
Billionaire liberals who have backed disinformation in the past supporting a “efforts that tackle disinformation” is not new. In his piece describing how Courier false-flags national Democratic press releases as “local news,” Walter described the “Commission on Information Disorder,” the Aspen Institute project that placed PACRONYM donor Kathryn Murdoch and Katie Couric in charge of “combating America’s urgent mis- and disinformation challenge.” Couric recently admitted omitting liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s interview comments critical of Colin Kaepernick’s anti-national anthem protests.
Also targeting supposed “disinformation” is Frances Haugen, the “Facebook Whistleblower.” In fact, her campaign has all the hallmarks not of whistleblowing but of political public relations: Politico reported that Pierre Omidyar (a notable funder of Kristol’s network of anti-Trump and anti-conservatism advocacy groups) funded Whistleblower Aid and Center for Humane Technology, both nonprofits working with Haugen. Center for Human Technology’s public relations flack is Bill Burton, late of the Obama White House. Haugen appeared on Burton’s podcast. Larry Lessig—a Harvard academic, erstwhile Democratic politician, and critic of the legal decisions that undergird conservatives’ organized political advocacy—has provided Haugen with legal and communications work pro bono.
Taken together, it looks like McGowan, Hoffman, and Soros’s latest effort for “Good Information” over “disinformation” is yet another front in the Left’s war on conservative speech rights.
It probably is exactly what it looks like.