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Monday, May 2, 2022
MRC's War on NewsGuard Continues Its Lame Gotcha Phase
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's war on website rating service NewsGuard has been descending into lame gotchas for a while now. That trend is continuing. Catherine Salgado actually wrote this in a March 9 post:

Does biased NewsGuard automatically favor state-affiliated media? The liberal online “credibility” arbiter gave seven traditionally non-autocratic state-affiliated media outlets around the world an average score of 98.6/100.

MRC Free Speech America looked at seven traditionally non-autocratic state-affiliated media outlets from Germany, the U.S., France, the United Kingdom and Canada. Biased NewsGuard didn’t allow government affiliation to harm journalistic credibility.

America’s National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), France’s Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France 24 and Germany’s Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) all received perfect scores of 100/100.

The UK’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Canada’s Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) both received excellent NewsGuard scores of 95/100.

Salgado doesn't explain why this government affiliiation must automatically be in conflict with journalistic credibility or even dispute the ratings or provide examples of why those outlets should be downgraded. Instead, she tried to play false equivalence and rehash old complaints about state-owned outlets in authoritarian countries getting better ratings that right-wing misinformers like One America News.

Salgado returned on March 11 to whine about NewsGuard's mission again:

NewsGuard co-CEO Steven Brill claimed that NewsGuard’s goal is “not to block anything,” but “just [to] give people straight information.” However, in a recent interview, he revealed NewsGuard’s real game of demonetizing anything the “credibility” arbiter deems “misinformation.”

Brill went on on March 8 to discuss NewsGuard and how the self-appointed online “credibility” arbiter works, especially how it restricts social media, with podcast host Molly Jong-Fast.

Brill explained that Facebook’s two top executives, Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, apparently ultimately rejected the idea of using NewsGuard for Facebook, though a Facebook executive had originally helped NewsGuard raise money.


He then summarized NewsGuard lists dividing supposedly “legitimate journalism” outlets from supposedly illegitimate media companies, so advertisers can choose what quality of news to affiliate with. “They can advertise there using our inclusion list, and can use our exclusion list to make sure they’re not on” sites that are presumably not “legitimate journalism,” he said. When leftist podcast host and Bulwark contributor Molly Jong-Fast suggested that NewsGuard could “stop fake news” on Facebook, Brill agreed, bragging, “You could do it in a minute.”

Brill said that Facebook executives originally endorsed NewsGuard as a tool that it could use instead of algorithms to regulate content, and helped the company fundraise. “One of the senior executives there even helped us raise money by encouraging investors,” Brill said. NewsGuard does not work like social media, Brill insisted, because it is “transparent.”

Again, Salgado offered no rebuttal beyond rehashing old attacks and hyping "a recent letter signed by MRC founder and President Brent Bozell and dozens of free speech advocates warned all U.S. governors about NewsGuard’s bias and influence." As if Bozell and his fellow letter-signers -- which, as we documented, include officlals from misinformation-laden operations like WorldNetDaily, LifeNews and the Western Journal -- aren't peddling their own bias and influence.

Because NewsGuard calls out misinformation, it's a threat to the MRC and its fellow right-wingers. That's why it has been waging war on the company.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:31 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, May 2, 2022 3:36 PM EDT

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