Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley, a popular commentator and law professor at George Washington University, is warning that subjecting children in America’s schools to the left-leaning bias of “fact-checkers” like NewsGuard “raises the specter of a type of de facto state media.”
NewsGuard recently was confirmed to be working with the American Federation of Teachers, under the directorship of Randi Weingarten, “to flag news sources deemed ‘misinformation,’” he explained in his online posting.
That union, while “entitled to be political” and favoring Democrats, he explained, long has been “criticized by conservatives for its support of far-left policies.”
And NewsGuard was co-founded by Steve Brill, “who has been accused of bias against Republicans and conservatives,” he explained.
“The ‘misinformation’ label has been used extensively by liberal media to kill stories like the Hunter Biden laptop stories as unreliable. Indeed, Brill is under fire for being one of the voices falsely claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop was likely false Russian disinformation. His company will now put ‘traffic lights’ on information for children on what sources they rely upon,” Turley wrote.
Those claiming that the laptop story was Russian disinformation, however, took a huge hit to their credibility this week when the New York Times, which for two years had maintained the position that the laptop wasn’t real, caved to the truth and admitted that it was, in fact, genuine.
Explained Turley, “Weingarten has declared using Brill’s NewsGuard will be a ‘game changer’ in preventing students from being ‘misled’ by news sources. It may well be. It would allow the AFT and school districts to teach students to distrust certain news sources like Fox News, which is given a lower rating by NewsGuard. (For full disclosure, I appear on Fox as a legal analyst).
“Conservative and independent sites continue to bedevil many on the left. The laptop story shows how advocacy journalism is now the norm in many newsrooms. Viewers and readers were told by most media figures, including Brill, that the story was likely Russian propaganda and untrue,” he wrote.
“The unsupported hoax claim (which contradicted readily available authenticating evidence at the time) raises the specter of a type of de facto state media. The problem is that such an echo chamber is only fully successful if there is no alternative source of information. Yet, Fox and New York Post continued to cover the story as did some of us as columnists.”
He explained, “The most extreme effort was a letter from Democratic members to pressure companies like AT&T to reconsider whether viewers should be allowed to watch Fox News and other networks. It does not matter that Fox News is the most popular news cable station and even has a greater percentage of Democratic viewers than CNN. The members insisted that ‘not all TV news sources are the same’ and called on these companies to protect viewers from ‘dissemination’ of false viewpoints.”
One Democrat in Congress, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, even has proposed legislation that would force people away from “certain stories.”
“The AFT is now seeking a much earlier intervention with children by getting Brill’s NewsGuard to rate reliable and unreliable sources of news. Weingarten has declared that, with Brill’s help, children and families will no longer be ‘drowning in an ocean of online dishonesty.’
“It is unlikely to be reassuring for many that the children instead will be swimming in a pool carefully maintained by the AFT and NewsGuard,” Turley said.
He noted it’s been two years that “some of us” have been hammered for alleged “Russian disinformation” for reporting the “raw influence peddling by the Biden family” outlined in the contents of the laptop, which Hunter Biden abandoned at a repair shop. It was taken by the federal government, after copies of the drive were made, in an investigation of Hunter Biden’s taxes – and now foreign business dealings.
“Steven Brill was one of those voices flagging the story as likely ‘disinformation.’ Brill assured viewers on CNBC that this was likely all untrue: ‘My personal opinion is there’s a high likelihood this story is a hoax, maybe even a hoax perpetrated by the Russians again,’” Turley reported.
The media campaign to block the story, just before the 2020 election, “worked,” he said.
“The Biden family had long been accused of special dealing and influence peddling. The emails were potentially devastating with references to millions from foreign sources, including shady Chinese, Russian, and Ukrainian interests while Joe Biden was vice president. The media actively participated in shielding the Bidens from the scandal,” he said.
A study from the Media Research Center later confirmed that that suppression of accurate, and negative, information about the Biden family’s international operations allowed Joe Biden to win the 2020 election.
It turns out that Brill, according to Turley, while considering himself qualified to determine “misinformation,” “was entirely wrong.”
After the Times made its admission of being wrong on the Hunter Biden computer, Breitbart reported that NewsGuard general manager Matt Skibinski “defended” Brill’s condemnation of the laptop story as a hoax.
But he ignored the fact “that the New York Times took two years to admit the veracity of a major news story that it ignored…”
Nor did he address “the failure of establishment media organizations to independently verify the material,” the report said.
He admitted, “Our ratings do not mean that a site with a poor rating will never get a story right, or that a site with a strong rating will never get a story wrong. We assess the general practices of each site by evaluating how well it adheres to nine journalistic criteria. If any news website falsely claimed that the laptop had been proven not to be Hunter Biden’s, we would take that into account in their assessment.”
WND reported just weeks ago that dozens of publications and media organizations had written a letter warning governors across the United States about the left-wing bias of NewsGuard, in light of its agenda to push its ideology to children through the teachers’ union.
The letter was signed jointly by Media Research Center founder and President Brent Bozell and dozens of other free speech advocates.
They warned, according to an announcement about the campaign, about “both on NewsGuard’s leftist bias and the ratings firm’s dangerous and growing influence in the educational arena.”
MRC found, problematically, that NewsGuard was biased “in favor of leftist news outlets. NewsGuard even rated several Communist Chinese state-run media outlets higher than several American outlets and pro-life U.S. websites. The ratings firm also claims to help identify ‘misinformation,’ but its biases show it isn’t objective,” the report said.
“Fact-checkers” have exploded in popularity even as online news resources have multiplied for a generation that now routinely reads stories or watches newscasts on their phones.
The concept probably is a good idea, but the problem, however, is that those “fact-checkers” often need calling out by real “fact-checkers,” as leftists who support fact-check groups financially and then quote them to support their own agenda hardly qualify for the title.
When the issue started developing – long before the claims about stolen elections, COVID mandates and more, the Heritage Foundation blasted the practice because of the obvious slant that was being publicized.
That said the Washington Post’s criticism of a statement by Ivanka Trump actually was editorializing, since it found her accurate use of a statistic resulted in “faulty conclusions.”
The foundation concluded that’s called “news analysis,” not “fact-checking.”
About the same time the Heritage Foundation was offering criticism of “fact-checkers,” Alex Berezow, at the American Council on Science and Health joined.
“Who fact-checks the fact-checkers?” he wrote. “While that might seem like a silly question, the objectivity of fact-checking websites has already been called into doubt, and for good reason.”
He pointed out that one of the legacy “fact-checkers,” Snopes, now has “bizarrely decided to debunk satire,” by aiming “the majority of its wrath toward one satire site in particular, the Babylon Bee, which happens to be published by conservative Christians.”
That site immediately turned Snopes’ agenda into fodder for its own benefit, headlining a satirical piece: “Snopes rates the devil’s lies as ‘mostly true.’”
The new letter to governors specifically cites NewsGuard’s infiltration into schools:
Leftist, “credibility” arbiter @NewsGuardRating is threatening the quality and integrity of the education system in every state.
We signed a letter with our Free Speech Alliance warning governors of how NewsGuard is threatening free speech.https://t.co/pqNF1FrzEQ
— MediaResearchCenter (@theMRC) March 3, 2022
At the MRC’s NewsBusters platform, a report explained governors were warned:
“NewsGuard, a so-called online ‘credibility’ arbiter, is threatening the quality and integrity of the education system in your state. And in every state. NewsGuard has recently partnered with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to censor points of view they disagree with in the classroom. Specifically, NewsGuard is actively working with the AFT to bring its agenda-driven rating system to classrooms across the country. Why? To stymie students from partaking in an open exploration of news and views from across the political spectrum.”
The letter described NewsGuard as a “one-sided, leftist organization dedicated to silencing conservative voices and other viewpoints it disagrees with.”
An MRC study, in fact, found “that outlets rated ‘left’ or ‘lean left’ by AllSides received an average NewsGuard score of 93/100. Sites considered ‘right’ or ‘lean right’ by AllSides had an average NewsGuard rating of 66/100.”
The dilemma facing governors is that, “School children depend on the internet for homework help. NewsGuard is now stepping in to ‘filter’ online sources for so-called ‘misinformation.’ The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union is buying NewsGuard licenses for its 1.7 million member teachers, according to an AFT press release. The partnership will make NewsGuard available to tens of millions of students and their families for free. The NewsGuard partnership will foist the company’s ‘real-time ‘traffic light’ news ratings and detailed ‘Nutrition Label’ reviews, via a licensed copy of NewsGuard’s browser extension’ on students using news stories for research.”
The governors are involved because they need “to stop this ideological assault on education and freedom of speech. There should be no partnership among such ideologically driven outside organizations and state-sponsored educational establishments. Such partnerships are clear conflicts of interest with an open and honest educational system,” the letter said.
It said NewsGuard’s purpose is clear: “to silence voices with which it disagrees.”
The letter listed examples of NewsGuard’s work:
- HuffPost, which published an attack piece on then-conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh following his death headlined “Rush Limbaugh, Bigoted King of Talk Radio, Dies at 70,” scored a “87.5” by NewsGuard.
- The Federalist, posted in the “right” AllSides list, was scored the worst with a ridiculous “12.5” on NewsGuard. A predominant reason for the abysmal rating, according to NewsGuard, was that The Federalist questioned the efficacy of mask mandates for COVID-19, even though liberal CNBC (not on the AllSides list, but has a “95” NewsGuard rating) cited a study showing that cloth masks were only 37 percent effective at filtering out virus particles.
- Abortion giant Planned Parenthood, who performed 9 million abortions as of July 2021, received a positive 75/100 rating. Yet, NewsGuard gave pro-life LifeNews and Live Action websites negative red “credibility” ratings of 30/100. NewsGuard specifically downgraded Live Action for reportedly exposing corruption in Planned Parenthood. The rating firm gave LifeSiteNews a 17.5/100.
Such blatant bias now will be used to indoctrinate children in public schools, the letter warns, “through a partnership with a far-left teacher’s union.’
It urges governors to take immediate steps to halt the infiltration of public education.
“As organizations representing millions of Americans all across the country, including your state, we are calling on you to immediately and publicly take a stand and prevent the agenda driven NewsGuard from insinuating itself into the classrooms in your state. ”
Signers included Bozell, Saulius “Saul” Anuzis of 60 Plus Association, Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission, Gary L. Bauer of American Values, Ryan Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation, Dan Bongino, Merrilee Boyack of Strengthen Utah Families, Floyd Brown of The Western Journal, Susan Carleson Currer of The Carleson Center for Welfare Reform, Sen. Jim DeMint of Conservative Partnership Institute and William A. Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Also Erick-Woods Erickson of the Erick Erickson Show, Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com, Mark J. Fitzgibbons of American Target Advertising, Inc., Lady Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America, Gualberto Garcia Jones of LifeSiteNews.com, Paul J. Gessing of Rio Grande Foundation, Kristi Hamrick of Students for Life of America/Students for Life Action, Aaron Harison of Free Beacon, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life Action/Students for Life of America, Heather R. Higgins of Independent Women’s Voice, Colleen Holcomb of Eagle Forum, Phil Kerpen of American Commitment, Amy Kremer of Women for America First, David Kupelian of WND, Jim Lakely of the Heartland Institute, and George Landrith of Frontirs of Freedom.
And Carrie Lukas of Independent Women’s Forum, Richard Manning of Americans for Limited Government, James L. Martin of 60 Plus Association, Rod D. Martin of The Martin Organization, Cleta Mitchell, Esq. of Conservative Partnership Institute, Phelim McAleer of Ann & Phelim Media, Michael P. McDonald of The Catholic League, Ann McElhinney of Ann & Phelim Media, C. Preston Noell III of Tradition, Family, Property, Inc., Emmanuel Rincon of El American, Austin Ruse of Center for Family and Human Rights. Terry Schilling of American Principles Project, Jon Schweppe of American Principles Project, Craig Shirley of Shirley & McVicker Public Affairs, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, Sean Spicer, former White House Press Secretary, Mathew D. Staver, Esq., B.C.S. of Liberty Council, Gov. Scott Walker of Young America’s Foundation, Lieutenant Colonel Allen B. West (U.S. Army, Retired), former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas and Aaron With of Freedom Foundation.
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