Deception & Misdirection

NewsGuard and Uncle Sam: Disclosure

NewsGuard and Uncle Sam: Just the Beginning of the End for the First Amendment? (full series)
The Nutrition Label | Vitamin Deficient Nutrition
History-Making Hoaxes | Disclosure


This is, in part, because the Intercept, like the Capital Research Center (nutrition ranking 80 percent) and the authors of The Federalist Papers, does not disclose the financing supporting the work.

This “failure” alone costs a content creator 7.5 points. Like the majority of the points awarded by NewsGuard, this has nothing to do with the actual “nutrition”—whether the content provided is accurate.

It’s also a hypocritical standard. The New York Times is funded by subscribers and advertisers. Where is the demand from NewsGuard for a public report naming all those parties and how much they pay the newspaper?

Of course, this hypothetical invasion of privacy should not be demanded of the newspaper, Capital Research Center, The Intercept, or any entity sincerely trying to provide accurate news and information. An honest effort to evaluate the “nutrition” level of our information would judge us all equally on the quality of our content, not the identities of our donors or clients.

But getting the story correct is only good for 40 of the 100 points awarded by NewsGuard for “Does not repeatedly publish false or egregiously misleading content” (22 points) and “Gathers and presents information responsibly” (18 points). Do just that much and—as noted earlier—NewsGuard will down rank you to a status of “Proceed with Caution,” just barely above “Proceed with Maximum Caution.”

Even absent official government support, NewsGuard nutrition labels should not be trusted to educate schoolchildren or anyone else on healthy news consumption. The metric looks more as if it were created by children. Worse, it’s biased to steer news consumers toward sources with a known and recent history of collectively producing inaccurate content that measurably and inalterably changed history.

That’s not nutrition. It’s junk food, at best. But Americans have a First Amendment right to consume junk food. The supreme law of the land prohibits government from putting its finger on the scale to judge what is accurate information, misinformation, disinformation, nutritional information, or media junk food. Even if the regime did this well, it would be ethically and constitutionally wrong to do so—a violation of basic American principles.

But the NewsGuard partnership with the government demonstrates that dangerous incompetence is the more likely outcome of federal censorship efforts. We shouldn’t expect the trend to improve if the government dumps NewsGuard and finds a new censorship dance partner to feed our tax dollars.

This wretched state of affairs—what journalist Matt Taibbi, after reading internal documents, described to Congress as “digital McCarthyism”—is likely just the beginning.[1] But in a small bright spot, the National Defense Authorization Act passed in December 2023 forbids the Defense Department from contracting with an advertising firm that works with NewsGuard, the Global Disinformation Index, or “any similar entity.” Federal and state legislators could consider other explicit bans on governmental entities working with these kinds of third-party censorship schemes.

This article was published in the April 2024 issue of Capital Research magazine.

[1] Matt Taibbi, “Hearing on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on the Twitter Files,” testimony before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, March 9, 2023, Taibbi added, “Ordinary Americans are not just being reported to Twitter for ‘deamplification’ or de-platforming, but to firms like PayPal, digital advertisers like Xandr, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe. These companies can and do refuse service to law-abiding people and businesses whose only crime is falling afoul of a faceless, unaccountable, algorithmic judge.”

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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