Shellenberger Exposes The Fear, Arrogance, & Greed Behind ‘News Rating’ Organizations

Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Public Substack,

The bewildering variety of information organizations has impressed entrepreneurs to create methods to rank them. The most outstanding of them is NewsGuard.

It ranks media organizations based mostly on their trustworthiness after which supplies these rankings to massive company advertisers.

NewsGuard’s co-CEOs are Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz. Before beginning NewsGuard, Brill had created CourtTV, and Crovitz was the writer of The Wall Street Journal.

I interviewed them in March.

Gordon Crovitz and Steven Brill of NewsGuard

I’ve two particular considerations with NewsGuard.

How might NewsGuard be goal in evaluating information media protection of the Defense Department if the Defense Department funds it?

And provided that NewsGuard unfold misinformation about covid’s origins, what proper does it must criticize others for spreading misinformation?

To NewsGuard’s credit score, it publicly acknowledges that it took cash from the Pentagon and obtained covid origins improper. On its web site, NewsGuard writes, “NewsGuard either mischaracterized the sites’ claims about the lab leak theory, referred to the lab leak as a ‘conspiracy theory,’ or wrongly grouped together unproven claims about the lab leak with the separate, false claim that the COVID-19 virus was man-made without explaining that one claim was unsubstantiated, and the other was false. NewsGuard apologizes for these errors.”

But NewsGuard still claims on its web site as “THE TRUTH,” that “Scientific evidence points to the virus originating in bats.study published in the journal Nature in February 2020 found the new virus’s genome is “96 percent identical” to a bat coronavirus. A March 2020 study printed within the journal Nature Medicine concluded that the virus “is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

The above info remains to be on NewsGuard’s website although its personal commonplace defines it as “misinformation.”

In truth, as Public and others have shown, the scientific proof does not level to the virus originating in bats. In truth, of their emails and inside messages, the authors of the March 2020 Nature Medicine paper expressed serious doubts that pangolins had been the middleman host from bats to people. As late as April 2020, the authors of “Proximal Origin” expressed doubt concerning the bat idea of covid. Indeed, it now seems that Anthony Fauci oversaw an effort to unfold disinformation about covid’s origins, together with by instigating the “Proximal Origin” paper.

[ZH: Of course, the “Proximal Origin” paper was not the only ‘issue’ that NewsGuard screwed up.]

As @ComfortablySmug relayed in a brief Twitter thread in March of 2022

If you thought it was extra seemingly that Russians faked hundreds of emails than {that a} crack addict forgot the place he left his laptop computer, perhaps it’s best to get out of the fact-checking biz.

A narrative in three elements

10/20: NewsGuard CEO says the laptop computer is “a hoax perpetrated by the Russians” 

3/16/22: Huge advert company says they will use NewsGuard to keep away from putting advertisements on “unreliable” information

3/17/22: NYT says the laptop computer is actual

Pretty apparent what is going on on right here.]

Conflicts Of Interest

As for NewsGuard’s Pentagon funding, I felt Brill and Crovitz had been slippery about what is clearly a battle of curiosity.

Shellenberger: You appear to disagree that the $750,000 you obtained from the Pentagon is funding?

Brill: We did not kind News Guard or do something that has something to do with us, you recognize, approaching the Pentagon, saying, “Hey, if you give us this money, we’ll do this.” It’s a product that we have now.

Crovitz: We present a service to the Pentagon. They license our knowledge that Steve mentioned, “misinformation fingerprints.” Like others, they’re simply one other licensee. So to say that we’re “government-funded” is like saying Verizon is government-funded. Yes, we have now a authorities contract. We’re pleased with the work that we do with the Pentagon to counter Russian and Chinese disinformation.

But funding is funding. The cash creates a battle of curiosity.

After all, NewsGuard should rank information media that cowl Pentagon “counter-disinformation” efforts, together with the sort NewsGuard does. Why would anybody count on NewsGuard to objectively consider such information protection if the analysis might negatively influence its shopper on the Pentagon? Why would we count on NewsGuard to objectively consider us, Public, given our criticisms of NewsGuard’s Pentagon funding?

The undeniable fact that Brill and Crovitz waved away this concern runs counter to the entire premise of NewsGuard, which is that it’s goal and above monetary conflicts of curiosity.

I consider Brill and Crovitz endure from the third-person impact.

They appear to consider that the mass media don’t affect them and, certainly, rise above it.

Similarly, they appear to consider that they’re uniquely able to recognizing misinformation however not responsible of spreading it.

Even although they admit that they did unfold improper info on covid origins, they don’t appear to suppose they may be doing the identical with Misinformation Fingerprints™ or with their authorities contract, which they themselves referred to as a “grant.”

I used to be glad that Brill and Crovitz agreed to talk with me when so many different organizations inside the Censorship Industrial Complex refused to take action.

But I left feeling that they had been blind to their very own biases and boastful consequently.

What’s behind the demand for his or her companies, I consider, is a concern of the rise of impartial media that may divert promoting income from conventional information media organizations.

This concern seems to emerge from conventional information media’s greed and sense of entitlement that solely they, and never competitor information media, ought to obtain advertiser cash.

Subscribers to the Public Substack can read the full excellent report on NewsGuard here…



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