Monday January 28, 2019
There’s a new thought policeman in town. He calls himself NewsGuard and he promises to restore “Trust and Accountability” to what one reads online. His website elaborates that “NewsGuard uses journalism to fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation. Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists, research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism—and which are not…Our Green-Red ratings signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.”
One might well stop reading immediately after running into “our trained analysts” with all that implies, but that would deny the greater pleasure derived from considering news-sites that have “…a hidden agenda or knowingly [publish] falsehoods or propaganda.” Excuse me, but hidden agendas, lies, and propaganda are what the mainstream media is all about, note particularly the recent feeding frenzy over the Covington school incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Catholic racist white boys vs. elderly Native American war hero was how the story was framed all over the mainstream media before it became clear that the entire chosen narrative was upside down. Only a couple of news outlets bothered to apologize when the truth became known.
NewsGuard claims to have a staff of 50 that evaluates 2,000 websites in something like real time. How exactly it does that is not clear, but The New York Times repeats company claims that “the sites it rates account for 96 percent of online news and information engagement in the US.” NewsGuard also told The Times that it intends to quadruple its vetting of sites and seeks to make its coverage “ubiquitous.”