A new browser extension app called NewsGuard promises to give readers better insight into the credibility of news sites by providing them with a red, yellow or green badge as visitors explore content. All you have to do is install it on your website browser and you will find out how websites are rated based on numerous categories. You will also see a ‘Nutrition Label’ that was developed by NewsGuard’s ‘watchdog SWAT team’ so readers can understand whether or not a site is trustworthy… well, that’s what NewsGuard claims.
This seems similar to Facebook’s attempt to stop ‘fake news’ by working with websites like Snopes who generally use mainstream media stories to ‘debunk’ alternative viewpoints that are presented on independent media websites. Ironically, Snopes has a perfect rating from NewsGuard.
NewsGuard (NewsGuard Technologies) describes themselves as a news rating agency, but if you look closer at their ownership, board of directors, and current ratings of websites, you get a very different picture as to what the purpose of NewsGuard truly is.
According to its website, NewsGuard has already rated more than 2,000 news and information websites. Future plans include further rankings as well as eventually reviewing “the 7,500 most-read news and information websites in the U.S.—about 98 percent of news and information people read and share online” in the United States in English.
Before we delve into the more important details of what’s going on here, let’s ask the big question…
Is Fake News A Problem?
Ship of Fools: How a S... Check Amazon for Pricing. As an owner of an independent media website and having been in the field for 10 years, I have had ample opportunity to observe the changes and growth within the field of independent media. I witnessed and was part of what is often referred to as the ‘golden era’ of independent media growth, where Facebook’s generous algorithm in 2012, 2013, 2014 and even 2015 allowed websites to generate traffic from tens of millions of visitors via the platform’s ‘page’ feature. Since then, Facebook has cracked down heavily on overall reach, cutting revenue to most alternative media sites by some 70% or 80%, including CE.
During that gold rush, I was often the voice of reason amongst alternative media owners and admins, pledging that we should have a set of standards, avoid copy-pasting content from other websites, and being sure to fact check everything before publishing. Some news websites stuck to these axioms and are still around today. Others can’t say the same and have found themselves without a network or website. Was it entirely because of poor journalism, copying content, and not checking the facts? No, there was an obvious Facebook purge that recently took place to shut out certain voices, and in my opinion, you open a door for problems when you operate without the obvious, necessary tactics for producing quality content.
One example I often refer to, and have spoken to the admin of numerous times, is YourNewsWire.com, which branched off and created Newspunch.com. Both sites have, and still do, produce fake stories, and to this day the owners still claim they didn’t know their stories were fake. I cannot say with certainty that they know they are fake now, but it tells me proper journalism is not being done as many stories can be debunked within 1 minute of researching. I don’t believe the owners have a bad heart and are trying to create problems by misleading people, I simply feel that quality journalism is not even being attempted.
To this day, many viewers and prominent figures around the movement share content from these websites because the headlines sound like they support certain facts or narratives, when in reality they are simply false stories.
Given that, is fake news out there? Yes, I do think there is some fake news that is not coming from the mainstream. But it would be irresponsible to not tell you that fake news comes from within mainstream media as well.
People often chuckle when Trump calls CNN “fake news,” but he is telling the truth. CNN has been caught on multiple occasions spreading fake stories, which they later have had to retract. Some of their journalists have even resigned as a result. This trend can be seen throughout other mainstream media outlets as well. Quite often I point to the fact that any news outlet that leans to a political side is, in fact, misleading readers in some way as they are filtering facts, tone and agendas through their own political lens. This begs the question: Why do we harp on fake news but overlook the manipulation that comes from political bias in media?
Coming back to NewsGuard here, many people see the app as increasing convenience for readers, whereby they can simply look at the badge to determine if a website is legit, saving them time on having to research content themselves. Problems arise when you look at who is making these decisions and realize that this is promoting the idea that humans require governance and ‘parents’ to look out for and take care of them. If we were popularizing a culture of self-responsibility, we would never have things like this, nor would we accept the implementation of them.
We have long covered why the agenda against fake news grew so rapidly following the 2016 election, and it isn’t so we can clean up the internet and keep people informed. Thankfully, many people are not falling for the ‘fake news’ bait and are questioning the mainstream now more than ever, as proven by the significant drop in approval ratings.
Note that in both examples above, the NewsGuard app continues to push Russia as being this imaginary enemy of the United States. This is simply a propaganda tool that has been used for decades by the US elite to manipulate its public into supporting and accepting everything from war to censorship. CNN, featured above, also happens to be one of the outlets continually pushing the factless Russian intervention narrative of the 2016 presidential election. This has long been debunked.
Who Owns It?
Against the State: An ... Best Price: $5.02 Buy New $5.52 (as of 11:35 UTC - Details) NewsGuard’s CEOs and board of directors should tell you a lot about what is truly going on here.
First let’s look at CEOs Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz. As MintPressNewsaptly pointed out:
Brill is a long-time journalist — published in TIME and The New Yorker, among others — who most recently founded the Yale Journalism Initiative, which aims to encourage Yale students who “aspire to contribute to democracy in the United States and around the world” to become journalists at top U.S. and international media organizations. He first teamed up with Crovitz in 2009 to create Journalism Online, which sought to make the online presence of top American newspapers and other publishers profitable, and was also the CEO of the company that partnered up with the TSA to offer “registered” travelers the ability to move more quickly through airport security — for a price, of course.
While Brill’s past does not in itself raise red flags, Crovitz — his partner in founding Journalism Online, then Press+, and now Newsguard — is the last person one would expect to find promoting any legitimate effort to “restore trust and accountability” in journalism. In the early 1980s. Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at the Wall Street Journal, eventually becoming executive vice president of the former and the publisher of the latter before both were sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in 2007. He is also a board member of Business Insider, which has received over $30 million from Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos in recent years.
Corvitz also happens to be a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR.) Many CE readers are well aware of the fact that the CFR is a deep state connected institution and one of the most powerful in the world, but for those who are not yet familiar, you can learn more here.
The advisory board is just as concerning when you consider the agenda of NewsGuard:
Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush and Ret.
General Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, a former NSA director and principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy seeking to “advise corporate clients and governments, including foreign governments” on security matters that was co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who also currently serves as the board chairman of major weapons manufacturer BAE systems.
Richard Stengel, former editor of Time magazine, a “distinguished fellow” at the Atlantic Council and Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy under President Barack Obama. We reported on how the Atlantic Council is the group that is pushing for Facebook censorship. With Richard in place, the clear ties between controlling content on social media is also seen in this new app.
Don Baer, former White House communications director and advisor to Bill Clinton. He is also the current chairman of both PBS and the influential PR firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe.
Elise Jordan, former communications director for the National Security Council and former speech-writer for Condoleezza Rice.
The funding for NewsGuard is also quite intriguing and further reveals what the agenda here is and who stands to benefit from a controlled media. One of the top funders is a company called Publicis Group. In 2018, some of its top clients included pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer and Bayer/Monsanto as well as Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, McDonalds, Kraft Heinz, Burger King, and the governments of Australia and Saudi Arabia. As is common with conflict of interest, what happens when independent websites accurately report on the shady dealings of these companies? Will the pressure from Publicis Group and its clients push for bad rankings for independent media websites?
Other funders include the Blue Haven Initiative, which is the venture capital “impact investment” fund of one of the top 10 wealthiest families in the U.S, the Pritzker family. They also happened to be the second largest contributor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
John McCarter, a long-time executive at U.S. government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
Thomas Glocer, former CEO of Reuters and a member of the boards of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., financial behemoth Morgan Stanley, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a member of the Atlantic Council’s International Advisory Board. It’s important to note that this is another Atlantic Council link, as you will recall they are behind the censorship push on social media.
Through these elite and powerful individuals, Newsguard has raised $6 million to begin its ranking efforts as of March 2018. Revenues and financial information have not been made public, regardless of the fact that NewsGuard requires websites to disclose this information to them if they want a perfect ranking in that category. This is seen in Newsguard’s United States Securities and Exchange Commission Form D filed on March 5, 2018, stating that the company “declined to disclose” the size of its total revenue. What Has Government Do... Best Price: $7.04 Buy New $6.50 (as of 05:50 UTC - Details)
How Does This Affect You?
In the ongoing effort to censor dissenting or critical thinking voices, powerful elite institutions and companies are creating a confusing landscape for people to discern truth. As more independent media voices bring forth facts that help people make sense of the reality around them, efforts to have people feel stupid or wrong for looking at these websites have increased. It has also made conversations and debates amongst people nearly impossible to have as people who often bring up alternative opinions and facts are simply silenced as having read ‘fake news.’
This is a time where tools such as this are the complete opposite of where we need to go. Now more than ever, taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives is key as the age of over-governance continues to consume much of popular culture. At this time, we do see much of this happening through the ‘left’, as poorly thought out demands and calls for government intervention backed by false facts and manipulation from the mainstream media have left people misinformed.
This isn’t to say this is about left vs. right as much as it is to simply point out that we must, no matter who we are, begin questioning our reality and stop jumping on the bandwagon of the latest meme or viral late night news clip. It has become too easy for manipulative media, both in mainstream and alternative, to run around people’s perceptions simply because we are opposed to thinking deeper about issues. This is what we must do.
Reprinted with permission from Collective Evolution.