State Department to Spend $750K on ‘Impartial Media’ in Middle East

The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will spend $750,000 to promote impartial and equitable media coverage in the Middle East and North African regions.

According to the grant, the State Department is looking to fund “regional programs with the objectives to counter discrimination and promote greater diversity in media coverage of marginalized racial and ethnic communities and underrepresented and vulnerable groups in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Projects are expected to take 2-3 years, and nonprofits and non-governmental organizations in both the U.S. and foreign countries can apply.

While the grant is vague in its guidelines, it suggests organizations can take steps in “countering mis and dis information as well as negative rhetoric targeting marginalized racial and ethnic communities, as well as refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.” It also suggests “facilitating collaboration and knowledge exchange on confronting hate speech and promoting diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion in the media.”

Ironically, the Biden Administration’s attempt to counter disinformation with a task force was scrapped after only three weeks in 2022.

The grant heavily emphasized that “advancing equity and support for underserved and underrepresented communities” is a critical component of any projects. Projects not allowed include humanitarian aid, English language instruction, development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or hardware, and micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives.

The U.S. can’t afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund programs with vague goals and intangible benefits in unspecified countries, especially when the types of aid that matter most are explicitly barred in the quest for equitable media coverage.