The federal government is funding research into â€œcountering populist narrativesâ€ about the COVID-19 pandemic in several countries including the U.S.
The unearthed grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) follows leaked documents and internal communications at Twitter revealing U.S. government agenciesâ€™ deep involvement in the censorship of â€œmisinformation.â€ What exactly constitutes â€œmisinformation,â€ however, remains nebulous, and the term has often been weaponized to silence conservatives and individuals speaking out against COVID-19 vaccines.
A testament to the governmentâ€™s influence over censorship and â€œmisinformationâ€ on social media platforms, War Room can reveal the NSF is funding a grant titled: â€œPandemic Communication in Time of Populism: Building Resilient Media and Ensuring Effective Pandemic Communication in Divided Societies.â€
Launched on April 27, 2022, the NSF has already allocated $199,516 to researchers at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
â€œThis project uses several methods to study how populist politicians distorted COVID-19 pandemic health communication to encourage polarized attitudes and distrust among citizens, thus making them more vulnerable to misinformation generally,â€ explains a summary of the grant.
The taxpayer-funded research is also keen on â€œcounteringâ€ the aforementioned populist narratives:
â€œIt also studies how best to counter these populist narratives and develop more effective communication channels.â€
To do so, the focus areas for researchers include â€œgovernment led pandemic communication, media policy, media coverage, and public attitudes towards the media.â€
â€The research will inform recommendations aimed at building more resilient media organizations that are better equipped to withstand the challenges of future pandemics in divided societies,â€ adds the NSF synopsis before reiterating:
â€œThe project will also study how best to counter these populist narratives and develop more efficient and reliable communication.â€
Researchers are focusing on the countries â€œBrazil, Poland, Serbia, and the US,â€ as they were â€œall led by populist leaders during the pandemic and capture different types of populist responses to the pandemic.â€