October 28, 2023
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    By CDM Staff

    October 27, 2023

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    Reprinted with permission Mises Institute Ryan McMaken

    In recent years we've all become familiar with the center-left disinformation campaigns known as "fact checking" web sites. Much of the time, fact-check articles are little more than thinly veiled op-eds masquerading as "neutral" reporting on various controversial matters. The authors of their pieces select a handful of sources they find ideologically attractive, and then present that information as the undisputed truth. Anyone who contradicts this "truth" is thus spreading "disinformation." 

    An extension of this effort is the web-site-rating service known as "NewsGuard." NewGuard, run by pro-establishment elites like Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales and the Wall Street Journal's Gordon Crovitz, ranks web sites based on how closely their editorial positions mirror the establishment's party line. The company's advisors include a variety of high-ranking government agents from intelligence agencies. For example: Michael Harden, former CIA director general; and Tom Ridge, former head of the Dept of Homeland Security, and one of the architects of the Bush administration's post-9/11 spy state. 

    Of course, the company doesn't actually describe itself this way. The company promotes itself to advertisers, search engines, and social media platforms as some sort of neutral arbiter of "accurate" information online. The idea here is that advertisers and media sites want to avoid being associated with sites that promote "disinformation" and NewsGuard will help identify the "good" sites. In reality, the organization works to deprive anti-establishment sites of advertising dollars and high rankings in search engines.  This, in turn, helps to silence anti-establishment voices published by independent media. NewsGuard's Matt Skibinski has admitted NewsGuard performs the same function as government censorship.  (Of course, when misinformation supports the regime narrative, NewsGuard looks the other way. NewsGuard, for example, has never censored any group for repeating the now debunked story that the Hunter Biden laptop was a Russian conspiracy.)

    NewGuard's efforts to discredit any site that dissents on US foreign policy have ramped up in recent years. NewsGuard has unleashed a number of new critiques against web sites that report "misinformation" —i.e., information contrary to the State Department's preferred narrative. Elon Musk's Twitter is a perennial target, and has recently been on the receiving end of new denunciations from NewsGuard which claims Twitter is a top spreader of "misinformation" about the Israel-Hamas war. This recently prompted Musk to call NewsGuard a scam. 

    Meanwhile, here at mises.org, my readers will probably not be shocked to learn that NewsGuard has targeted our site as well. The company's "journalists" have repeatedly searched mises.org for any reason they can find to declare mises.org a hotbed of "disinformation." 

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    Every 18 months or so, a NewsGuard operative contacted me about various alleged instances of misinformation on the site. Most recently, a NewsGuard agent—who was too lazy to read my name and thus insisted on addressing me as "Mr. McKaken"—seemed especially concerned with pushing a pro-Ukraine agenda, and took exception to any suggestion on mises.org that the US regime has been involved in promoting anti-Russian politicians and protests inside Ukraine. The thing about NewsGuard is that it always unquestioningly accepts the regime's official pronouncements as gospel truth. Thus, any skepticism about the official narrative on our part is labeled "misinformation" by the censors at NewsGuard. 

    So, Elon Musk is right. NewsGuard is a scam and is a tool of wealthy political operatives and social-media elites. The idea that is a neutral arbiter of reliable "truth" will only seem plausible to the most naive consumers of media narratives. 

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