Truthout - December 18, 2020

Yet who checks the fact-checkers? Corporate news organizations tend to sidestep this basic concern, but even a swift examination of NewsGuard’s advisory board calls into question whether it is an impartial, trustworthy protector against the threats of misinformation and propaganda. NewsGuard relies on former Homeland Security, CIA and NATO officials, and a variety of corporate spokespersons for “strategic advice” on “reliable journalism” and its “pivotal role in democracy.”

... NewsGuard rates online news sources for their credibility and transparency using nine criteria. Its browser extension and mobile app identify reliable sources with green icons and flag problematic sources with red icons. NewsGuard promotes its “Internet Trust Tool” to libraries and educators as part of its news literacy program; it also markets these services to advertisers as tools to protect their “brand safety.”

Corporate news organizations have, for the most part, uncritically embraced NewsGuard and accepted its stated aims at face value. Even PEN America, a nonprofit organization that is renowned for defending and celebrating freedom of expression, has endorsed PolitiFact and NewsGuard.

Yet who checks the fact-checkers? Corporate news organizations tend to sidestep this basic concern, but even a swift examination of NewsGuard’s advisory board calls into question whether it is an impartial, trustworthy protector against the threats of misinformation and propaganda. NewsGuard relies on former Homeland Security, CIA and NATO officials, and a variety of corporate spokespersons for “strategic advice” on “reliable journalism” and its “pivotal role in democracy.”

The members of NewsGuard’s advisory board include Michael Hayden, who ran the Central Intelligence Agency under George W. Bush; Leo Hindery Jr., once the CEO of AT&T Broadband; Kate O’Sullivan, the general manager for digital diplomacy at Microsoft; Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who served as secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 2009-2014; and Tom Ridge, the first director of Homeland Security. 

Read full report at Truthout