Sure enough, NewsGuard gets federal funding
In the bowels of the disinformation industrial complex, which is all about rating conservative media outlets as "disinformation" in order to persuade advertisers to defund them, NewsGuard has always stood a little apart.
It says it's transparent. It says it's private. It says it's apolitical, and politics never occurs to its people as they issue their utterly objective ratings. It's not like those creepy "Lives of Others" censors at the U.K.-based Global Disinformation Index, who took $330 million in U.S. State Department cash to carry out their censor-the-conservatives blacklist, marketing it as objective truth-telling. Nooo, siree. GDI was so naked in its hate for the conservative media that they got their government money yanked (supposedly) after the political atmosphere got hot. (We'll see.)
NewsGuard was supposedly better than that. It had standards. It was no tool on any government agency's string.
Turns out NewsGuard took U.S. government money, too, in the form of a grant from the Pentagon, and in ways such as contest winnings from other agencies.
Margot Cleveland, writing at The Federalist, which is one of the many conservative news outlets on NewsGuard's blacklist (it also includes American Thinker), reports how the problem came out in congressional hearings:
The media-ratings giant NewsGuard denied it was "government-funded" after being called out as part of the vast Censorship Complex during congressional hearings last week. But government records and the company's own public announcement celebrating a nearly $750,000 federal grant suggest otherwise.
On Thursday, independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger appeared before the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to testify about what they had discovered during a review of internal Twitter communications. An hour before the weird hearing began, Taibbi released the latest installment of the "Twitter Files."
Halfway through his thread, titled "The Censorship-Industrial Complex," Taibbi wrote: "Some NGOs, like the GEC-funded Global Disinformation Index or the DOD-funded NewsGuard, not only see content moderation but apply subjective 'risk' or 'reliability' scores to media outlets, which can result in a reduction in revenue." Embedded in the post was a picture of a nearly $750,000 award from the Department of Defense to NewsGuard, an organization the independent journalists characterized as a "government-funded" entity implicated in the Censorship Complex.
Naturally, NewsGuard denied it. Its CEO, a former Wall Street Journal and Far Eastern Economic Review honcho named Gordon Crovitz, whom I've always respected until he joined this bid to shut down other media outlets, insisted it isn't so:
"During the hearing, NewsGuard was inaccurately described as 'U.S. government funded,'" Crovitz continued, adding, "unlike other entities mentioned during the hearing, we are not a non-profit funded by government grants. We are a business with many licensees paying to access our proprietary data, including government entities that pay to license our data."
"These licenses are only for access to our data and are entirely unrelated to our rating of news publishers," the email added.
Crovitz then claimed NewsGuard's work for the Pentagon is targeted at analyzing anti-American info ops from adversaries such as China and Russia. "Our analysts alert officials in the U.S. and in other democracies, including Ukraine, about new false narratives targeting America and its allies, and we provide an understanding of how this disinformation spreads online," NewsGuard's CEO proclaimed.
NewsGuard "operates in an entirely different manner" from the Global Disinformation Index, the CEO told Taibbi, working to separate his organization from others in the Censorship Complex.
Seems the claims to objectivity from this hoity-toity blacklisting outfit are a tad hypocritical. They take government money, same as the rest of them, their Deep State goals perfectly aligned.
The Pentagon grant said "grant," not licensing fee, not subscription fee — grant, which means it either misappropriated the money under the claimed grant, or...it was a grant, a freebie, go use that money how you do. The Federalist reported that NewsGuard even called it a grant back in 2021 and took smaller amounts of money from the government earlier, mostly in the form of "prizes." Crovitz did email them a licensing agreement, and to his credit, he did answer their inquiries, but The Federalist argued:
Missing from the agreement, however, was any specified licensing fee, with the agreement merely stating it was to be negotiated based on "use cases."
So to say they aren't government-funded is an odd thing, given the rolling money. The Federalist said that readers can decide for themselves.
NewsGuard's claims to objectivity are questionable, too. It was a loud and proud promoter of the canard that Hunter Biden's laptop was "Russian disinformation," grading the media outlets that promoted that lie with "100% credibility."
Any apologies for that one?
NewsGuard also partnered with a far-left teachers' union to discourage children from reading conservative media outlets at schools, which was also reported by The Federalist:
The American Federation of Teachers claims that their new deal with NewsGuard will "help educators and their students navigate a sea of online disinformation" by granting AFT's 1.7 million members free access to the misinformation software, but the "fact-checking" company is far from unbiased.
NewsGuard is a pro-censorship browser extension that discourages users from clicking on news sites its team of "trained journalists" has deemed unacceptable. The "anti-misinformation" company, which is largely staffed by Ivy League graduates, claims to be apolitical but scores leftist corporate media sites 27 points higher on average than conservative ones and even features a glowing segment from CNN's Brian Stelter on its front webpage.
NewsGuard has already infiltrated "hundreds of public libraries globally" by enabling the filtration browser extension "on their public-access computers" and now it will be welcomed into public schools via teachers in the increasingly leftist AFT. Under NewsGuard's filter, students will be encouraged to avoid blacklisted news sites marked as "red" such as The Federalist and pro-life group LiveAction.
Free? Somebody paid for it. Wonder who.
Crovitz protests that he's a former conservative columnist for the Wall Street Journal, so that means he has no bone to pick with conservative outlets, but that's a bit fact-challenged, too, as he was only mildly conservative, and the Wall Street Journal's conservative side is ground zero for #NeverTrump thinking, holding a big #NeverTrump position throughout Trump's tenure and spawning famous #NeverTrumps such as Max Boot. Conservative? Not entirely, though they might like to hold the monopoly on that title by chasing all the small-fry rival news outlets out of business by seeing them defunded by advertisers.
That's all funny stuff in this case of Crovitz turning up at NewsGuard and saying he's against censorship. He reminds me of another former Wall Street Journal reporter, Glenn Simpson, who founded another Trump-hating outfit, FusionGPS, which got famous for its false information in the now-discredited phony Steele dossier.
The Pentagon, we must note, is no run-of-the mill federal agency dishing grants, either. It's hated President Trump from day one and aggressively promoted wokery in its ranks. The DoD's top general, Mark Milley, is famous for warning the Chinese that he'd let them know if Trump, his commander in chief, ever decided to invade them, an act that would get anyone else out there in jail for treason, the real kind. He got off, of course, because he was out to undercut President Trump.
The Pentagon doesn't like President Trump and has a impressive record of trying to discredit him based on its crude template of false rumors spread against him, all of the same kind, and all of them coming from the Pentagon. I wrote about that here.
This was the federal agency that was out there dishing grants to groups like NewsGuard to keep the conservative press in check and defunded for those bad pro-Trump opinions of theirs as well as to praise the leftist mainstream press as "100% credible." And they handed them a lot of money, even as NewsGuard claims it wasn't federal funding.
They are not at all different from any of the other denizens of this vaunted disinformation industrial complex. They take government money, same as the rest of them, but seem to be more careful about covering their tracks. Let's see them say something negative about the Pentagon's propensity for spreading false rumors and disinformation about Trump and see if the grants keep coming.
What a bunch of hypocrites.
Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.