Organization Trends

NewsGuard: AFT’s Shiny New Indoctrination Tool

Imagine every article that public school students see being “fact-checked” by a radical leftist organization. That’s the future that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest teachers union in America, wants to see. AFT has 1.7 million members, and every one of them was just given access to the self-proclaimed anti-misinformation tool, NewsGuard.

A Less Than Stellar Track Record

Who is NewsGuard, you ask? According to them, they are something like the king of U.S. fact-checkers. Dig a little deeper, and it’s pretty clear they are just another left-wing propaganda outlet pretending to be arbiters of truth.

NewsGuard ranks news organizations, websites, and journalists on its credibility scale, which is protected by a paywall. On average, NewsGuard ranks left-leaning news sites 27 points higher than right-leaning news outlets. In 2021, NewsGuard did a quick and dirty top 10 report on the most popular sites spreading misinformation. The list included, Gateway Pundit, The Federalist, and Newsmax. In contrast, they ranked the top 10 most trustworthy news sites, including NBC News, New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post.

Without getting into specifics about the biases of these news . . . organizations—for example, headlines on several sights claimed that Hunter Biden’s laptop is from Russia—it’s essential to consider how access to NewsGuard will be used in the classroom.

NewsGuard’s second-largest investor is a man named Nicholas Penniman V. A glance at his Ukrainian flag-waving Twitter feed, and it is clear that this man hates Fox News and any other right-leaning news source. Consider that NewsGuard gave the junk news site Buzzfeed a 100/100 ranking, yet at the same time, the New York Post received a 69.5/100.

Does this sound like the organization that should tell America’s children what is truth and what isn’t?

The AFT-NewsGuard Partnership

I have been personally fact-checked, including a USA Today article about one of my satire characters—yes, satire gets “fact-checked” nowadays, similar to fact-checking an Saturday Night Live skit. I have seen the almighty misinformation labeling lords like NewsGuard flag posts with direct quotes from politicians or accurate statistics interpreted in a way that the fact-checkers don’t like. Behind these fact-checkers are biased human beings, and NewsGuard is no different.

But, you say, it can’t be as bad as you describe. It’s not as if students will have some kind of fact-checking software giving the imprimatur to all “acceptable” sites and articles students see, and the thumbs down to anything against their preferred narratives, right? Oh, but they will. In a newly announced deal, AFT members will download the NewsGuard extensions onto classroom computers, so when students click on a site, they can “NewsGuard it.” An AFT press release touted, “In one school, a social studies teacher recently told us that his students use NewsGuard as a verb, meaning that when they see something online, they ‘NewsGuard’ it.”

Truly Orwellian.

As quoted from AFT’s announcement on their partnership with NewsGuard:

NewsGuard is a great tool in this regard. It is a beacon of clarity to expose the dark depths of the internet and uplift those outlets committed to truth and honesty rather than falsehoods and fabrications. This historic deal will not only help us steer clear of increasingly fetid waters—it will provide a valuable lesson in media literacy and a discussion point for teachers in class on what can and can’t be trusted.

AFT President Randi Weingarten praised the deal as a “game-changer for teachers and families drowning in an ocean of online dishonesty.” She continues, “We are constantly trying to help our students, particularly our middle, high school and postsecondary students, separate fact from fiction, as we help them develop their critical-thinking and analytical skills.”

The AFT believes that what they deem misinformation is a “threat to public safety and our democracy.” Speaking of misinformation, is anyone else sick of hearing the battle cry about our “democracy” being threatened when we live in a republic?

Stifling Dissent

The only threat here is NewsGuard’s apparent liberal bias threatening to silence diverse political perspectives and freedom of thought in the American public classroom. The real lesson in trustworthiness is who is behind the fact-checkers and what agendas they hold dear because that is what they are trying to insert in the classroom while fact-checking all dissent and labeling it as misinformation.

Kali Fontanilla

Kali is serving as CRC’s Senior fellow, particularly focusing on topics related to K-12 public education. She has 15 years of experience as a credentialed educator working in public and…
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