Soros-Funded Fact-Checkers: Who Cares About Free Speech, Our ‘Facts’ Are What Matter

April 5th, 2024 5:47 PM

A fact-checking network funded by leftist billionaire George Soros is trying to shift emphasis from free speech to pre-approved “facts.”

Leftist Poynter Institute and its International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) only mentioned free speech once in its 2023-2024 Impact Report — and such a mention was only to highlight an individual’s award. Rather, Poynter emphasized “Facts on the global stage,” setting itself up as an arbiter of truth online. Poynter openly boasted about its work to suppress speech on social media platforms. Significantly, this report comes after Poynter Institute received $492,000 in grants from Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) between 2016 and 2019.

Poynter only mentioned “freedom of expression” when it highlighted the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Filipina journalist Maria Ressa for defending free speech. Tellingly, Ressa now trains fact-checkers, which is the work Poynter aimed to highlight. Ressa’s news organization Rappler was a beneficiary of Poynter funds, as was USA Today, among others. “In 2023, Poynter’s IFCN awarded $1.875 million in grants to 55 different news organizations through IFCN’s GlobalFact Check Fund,” the group announced. “Poynter will award up to $4 million in additional grants in 2024.”

In the report, Poynter highlighted its fact-checking work for Big Tech companies on its PolitiFact website. “PolitiFact checks claims on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok,” Poynter announced. “In 2023, we initiated fact-checking for native Spanish speakers and will launch a Spanish-language website in 2024.” 

Poynter then bragged about its partners Stanford University (a U.S. government censorship proxy) Meta and Google-owned YouTube “to level a playing field full of misinformation.” As widely reported by MRC, misinformation is a common leftist catchphrase to justify censorship of free speech.

In the same report, IFCN Director Angie Drobnic Holan raised the alarm that “[m]isinformation is on the march” and that “fact-checkers and other journalists face attack and harassment simply for doing their jobs.” Ignoring the fact that anti-free speech actions are a major factor in reducing trust in media, Holan then claimed, “We are on the side of truth. We are on the side of information integrity.”

An example undermining Holan’s claims of objectivity is a 2020 article and Facebook fact-check still available on the Poynter-owned PolitiFact website. The article pushed the claim that “Russian operatives used a series of ‘active measures’ to hack campaigns, spread disinformation and sow discord in an effort to sway the election in favor of President Donald Trump.” PolitiFact cited and linked to the since-discredited Mueller Report, which actually found no evidence of “Russia collusion” with Trump.

As former reporter and ex-Lake Elsinore Mayor Thomas Buckley noted in an April 5 Brownstone Institute piece, Poynter is anti-free speech and is not objective. “To the contrary, ‘fact-based expression’ demands both self and external censorship, a political, social, and cultural censorship that will drown out and drone on,” he wrote.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency and an equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.