This photo, edited by MintPress News,
shows Primedia chairman and CEO Tom Rogers, left,
talking with Newsguard CEO Steven Brill after a
New York news conference announcing Brill as the
chairman and CEO of Media Central, Jan. 4, 2001.
Ed Bailey | AP
As Newsguard's project advances,
it will soon become almost impossible to avoid
this neocon-approved news site's ranking systems
on any technological device
sold in the United States...
Soon after the social
media "purge" of independent media sites and pages this past
October, a top neoconservative insider - Jamie Fly -
caught stating that the mass deletion of anti-establishment and
anti-war pages on Facebook and Twitter was "just the beginning" of a
concerted effort by the U.S. government and powerful corporations to
silence online dissent within the United States and beyond.
examination of this organization reveals that it is funded by and
deeply connected to the U.S. government, neo-conservatives, and
powerful monied interests, all of whom have been working overtime
since the 2016 election to silence dissent to American forever-wars
and corporate-led oligarchy.
Worse still, if its
efforts to quash dissenting voices in the U.S. are successful,
Newsguard promises that its next move will be to take its system
...and many others just over the past few months.
Those articles portray
Newsguard as using "old-school journalism" to fight "fake news"
through its reliance on nine criteria allegedly intended to separate
the wheat from the chaff when it comes to online news.
Rankings are created by Newsguard's team of "trained analysts."
The color-coding system
may remind some readers of the color-coded terror threat-level
warning system that was created after 9/11, making it worth noting
that Tom Ridge, the former secretary of Homeland Security who
oversaw the implementation of that system under
George W. Bush, is on
Newsguard gives Fox News
high marks for "accuracy."
markets the browser plug-in to libraries, schools and internet users
However, it plans to take its ranking efforts much farther by eventually reviewing,
A recent Gallup study, which was supported and funded by Newsguard as well as the Knight Foundation (itself a major investor in Newsguard), stated that a green rating increased users likelihood to share and read content while a red rating decreased that likelihood.
Specifically, it found 63
percent would be less likely to share news stories from red-rated
websites, and 56 percent would be more likely to share news from
green-rated websites, though the fact that Newsguard and one of its
top investors funded the poll makes it necessary to take these
findings with a grain of salt.
How else to explain the fact that the Washington Post and CNN both received high scores even though both have written stories or made statements that later proved to be entirely false?
claimed in 2016 that it was illegal for Americans to read WikiLeaks
releases and unethically colluded with the DNC to craft presidential
debate questions to favor Hillary Clinton's campaign that same year.
That same year, CNN was
forced to retract a report that the Trump campaign had been tipped
off early about WikiLeaks documents damaging to Hillary Clinton
when it later learned the alert was about material already publicly
It was later found that the grid itself was never breached and the "hack" was only an isolated laptop with a minor malware problem.
Yet, such acts of
journalistic malpractice are apparently of little concern to
Newsguard when those committing such acts are big-name corporate
However, RT receives a low "red" rating for being funded by the Russian government and for,
While it repeatedly claims on its website that its employees,
...a quick look at its
co-founders, top funders and advisory board make it clear that
Newsguard is aimed at curbing voices that hold the powerful - in
both government and the private sector - to account.
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,
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.
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.
L. Gordon Crovitz,
then-publisher of The Wall Street Journal,
introduces the redesign of the newspaper,
Dec. 4, 2006 in New York.
Mark Lennihan | AP
Though many MintPress readers are likely familiar with these two institutions, for those who are not, it is worth pointing out that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the most influential neoconservative think tanks in the country and its "scholars," directors and fellows have included neoconservative figures like,
During the George W. Bush administration, AEI was instrumental in promoting the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq and has since advocated for militaristic solutions to U.S. foreign policy objectives and the expansion of the U.S.' military empire as well as the "War on Terror."
During the Bush years,
AEI was also closely associated with the now defunct and
controversial neoconservative organization known as the Project
for a New American Century (PNAC),
which presciently called, four years before 9/11, for a "new Pearl
Harbor" as needed to rally support behind American military
Yet, beyond his innumerable connections to neoconservatives and powerful monied interest, Crovitz has repeatedly been accused of inserting misinformation into his Wall Street Journal columns, with groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation accusing him of "repeatedly getting his facts wrong" on NSA surveillance and other issues.
Some of the blatant
falsehoods that have appeared in Crovitz's work have never been
corrected, even when his own sources
called him out for
Chief among Newsguard's
advisors are 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.
At a panel discussion hosted last May by the Council on Foreign Relations, Stengel described his past position at the State Department as "chief propagandist" and also stated that he is "not against propaganda.
Every country does it and
they have to do it to their own population and I don't necessarily
think it's that awful."
While Brill and Crovitz themselves are the company's top investors, one of Newsguard's most important investors is the Publicis Groupe. Publicis is the third largest global communications company in the world, with more than 80,000 employees in over 100 countries and an annual revenue of over €9.6 billion ($10.98 billion) in 2017.
It is no stranger to
controversy, as one of its subsidiaries,
Qorvis, recently came under
fire for exploiting U.S. veterans at the behest of the Saudi
government and also helped the Saudi government to "whitewash" its
human rights record and its genocidal war in Yemen after receiving
$6 million from the Gulf Kingdom in 2017.
Some of its top clients in 2018 included,
Given its influential
role in funding Newsguard, it is reasonable to point out the
potential conflict of interest posed by the fact that sites that
accurately report on Publicis' powerful clients - but generate bad
publicity - could be targeted for such reports in Newsguard's
Maurice Lévy (center), the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Publicis Groupe,
appears with a cadre of high-level politicians and corporate executives
at an event for Rabbi Arthur Schneier's "Appeal of Conscience Foundation,"
Sept. 26, 2018.
Brian Ach | AP Images for Appeal of Conscience Foundation
Newsguard's actual revenues and financing, however, have not been disclosed despite the fact that it requires the sites it ranks to disclose their funding.
In a display of pure
hypocrisy, Newsguard's United States Securities and Exchange
Form D - which was filed March 5, 2018 - states that the
company "declined to disclose" the size of its total revenue.
Indeed, if voluntary
adoption of Newsguard's app were the case, there would likely be
little cause for concern, given that its website attracts barely
300 visits per month and its social-media following is
relatively small, with just over 2,000
Twitter followers and barely
Facebook likes at the time of this article's publication.
The first state to
on all of its public library computers across its
51 branches was the state of Hawaii - which was the first to partner
with Newsguard's "news literacy initiative," just last month.
...suggesting that these
Newsguard services targeting libraries and schools are soon to
become a compulsory component of the American library and education
system, despite Newsguard's glaring conflicts of interest with
massive multinational corporations and powerful government
As part of its new "Defending Democracy" initiative, Microsoft announced last August that it would be partnering with Newsguard to actively market the company's ranking app and other services to libraries and schools throughout the country.
Microsoft's press release regarding the partnership states that Newsguard,
Since then, Microsoft has now added the Newsguard app as a built-in feature of Microsoft Edge, its browser for iOS and Android mobile devices, and is unlikely to stop there.
Indeed, as a recent report in favor of Microsoft's partnership with Newsguard noted,
Newsguard, for its part, seems confident that its app will soon be added by default to all mobile devices.
On its website, the organization notes that,
This shows that Newsguard
isn't expecting its rating systems to be offered as a downloadable
application for mobile devices but something that social media sites
like Facebook, search engines like Google, and mobile device
operating systems that are dominated by Apple and Google will
"directly" integrate into nearly every smartphone and tablet sold in
the United States.
The Globe wrote at the time:
This eventuality is made all the more likely given the fact that, in addition to Microsoft, Newsguard is also closely connected to Google, as Google has been a partner of the Publicis Groupe since 2014, when the two massive companies joined Condé Nast to create a new marketing service called La Maison that is,
Given Google's power in
the digital sphere as the dominant search engine, the creator of the
Android mobile operating system, and the owner of YouTube, its
partnership with Publicis means that Newsguard's rating system will
soon see itself being promoted by yet another of Silicon Valley's
most powerful companies.
Indeed, as Newsguard was launched, co-CEO Brill stated that he planned to sell the company's ratings of news sites to Facebook and Twitter.
Last March, Brill told CNN that,
On Wednesday, Gallup released a poll that will likely be used as a major selling point to social media giants.
The poll - funded by
Newsguard and the Knight Foundation, which is a top investor in Newsguard and has
recently funded a series of Gallup polls relating
to online news - seems to have been created with the intention of
manufacturing consent for the integration of Newsguard with top
social media sites.
However, a disclaimer at the end of the poll states that the results, which were based on the responses of 706 people each of whom received $2 to participate,
With trust at Facebook nose-diving and Facebook's censorship of independent media already well underway, the findings of this poll could well be used to justify its integration into Facebook's platform.
The connections of both
Newsguard and Facebook to the Atlantic Council make this seem a
Through a service called "Brandguard," which it describes as a,
At the time the service was announced last November, Newsguard co-CEO Brill stated that the company was,
This is unsurprising given the leading role of the Publicis Groupe, one of the world's largest advertising and PR firms, has in funding Newsguard.
As a consequence, it
seems likely that many, if not all, of Publicis' client companies
will choose to adopt this blacklist to help crush many of the news
sites that are unafraid to hold them accountable.
Google Adsense has long
been targeting sites like MintPress by demonetizing articles for
information or photographs it deemed controversial, including
demonetizing one article for including a photo showing
involved in torturing Iraqi detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib
One article that has been repeatedly flagged by Google details how many African-Americans have questioned whether the Women's March has aided or harmed the advancement of African-Americans in the United States.
Google has repeatedly
claimed that the article, which was written by African-American
author and former Washington Post bureau chief Jon Jeter,
contains "dangerous content."
Given its plan to rank
the English-language U.S. news sites that account for 98 percent of
U.S. digital news consumption, Newsguard's agenda is of the utmost
concern to every independent media page active in the United States
and beyond - given Newsguard's promise to take its project global.
...that protect the
existing power structure and help shield the corporate-led oligarchy
and military-industrial complex from criticism.
By supporting independent
media and unplugging from social media sites committed to
censorship, like Facebook and Twitter, we can strengthen the
independent media community and keep it afloat despite the
unprecedented nature of these attacks on free speech and watchdog
While this report has sought to be a starting point for such work, anyone concerned about Newsguard and its connections to the war machine and corrupt corporations should feel encouraged to point out the organization's own conflicts of interests and shady connections via its Twitter and Facebook pages and the feedback section on Newsguard's website.
The best way to defeat
this new tool of the neocons is to put them on notice and to
continue to expose Newsguard as a
guardian of Empire, not a guardian