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Tags: elon musk | newsguard | fact-checker | left-wing | conservatives | censorship | europe

Musk Calls NewsGuard a 'Scam,' Demands Its Disbandment

By    |   Friday, 20 October 2023 09:24 AM EDT

Elon Musk railed against the left-wing media fact-checker NewsGuard on Thursday, calling the ratings company a "scam" and saying it should be "disbanded immediately."

Musk's reaction came in the aftermath of a series of posts on his social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

One came from Foundation for Freedom Online executive director Mike Benz, who claimed NewsGuard, led by adviser and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, worked with the European Union on a disinformation code that would prompt governments to bankrupt alternative news sites.

Benz highlighted NewsGuard's business model, which he said combines "disinformation compliance services with censorship laws it promotes."

"This is crazy!" Musk posted, adding if true, "the people of Europe deserve an explanation."

"Elon, there is no way EU censorship proponents can deny it. NewsGuard bragged about it. EU officers bragged about it. They had formal partnership together. All they can do now is hold their nose & hope their own voters never learn what's been going on," Benz posted in response.

In another post, the CEO of Timcast news, Tim Pool, said NewsGuard issued his platform a strike "because we ran 5 stories out of nearly 5,000 that quoted Trump."

"They claimed that reporting on Trump's statements was irresponsible because we should be fact checking him instead and Trump was wrong. They now claim we don't correct errors because we didn't respond to their false claims last month," Pool posted to X.

"What a scam! 'NewsGuard' should be disbanded immediately," Musk responded.

Later Thursday, Musk again weighed in on X, calling for NewsGuard's disbandment and noting that "[a]nything with a name that sounds like it came out of an Orwell novel should never be trusted."

When reached for comment, NewsGuard's Matt Skibinski called his business "an alternative" to government censorship.

"NewsGuard was created as an alternative to the black-box algorithms that decide which news content is promoted and which is not on Big Tech platforms — and as an alternative to any government censorship of content," he said in a statement to Newsmax Thursday night.

A 2017 report on news disinformation by the liberal Brookings Institution called for private media ranking services like Newsguard to help enable censorship by social media platforms and ad agencies.

Skibinski also claimed his group "uses a set of criteria," but did not deny that determinations are highly subjective or that Newsguard skews in favor of liberal news outlets.

NewsGuard was founded by Steve Brill, an entrepreneur who has been a high profile Democrat activist and donor.

Brill and his wife have donated to numerous Democrats including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Brill was a vocal advocate that Hunter Biden's laptop and its revelations were Russian disinformation.

This claim has been proven false, and neither Brill nor NewsGuard have offered a retraction despite their censorship efforts over the story.

Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy months ago called out NewsGuard — and the Global Disinformation Index — for exerting their influence to silence conservative voices. Ruddy said they present themselves as independent fact-checkers.

However, the Media Research Center found in December 2021 that "liberal outlets were rated 27 points higher on average than news organizations on the right" by NewsGuard's rating system.

Another Center study of NewsGuard released in 2022 found a similar liberal bias to their rankings.

"All the liberal sites like CNN and New York Times get great scores no matter what they do," Ruddy said at an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March.

"Think about what CNN did — all the problems, the scandals, the Cuomos, the Russian collusion — and they're among the highest-rated by NewsGuard."

Ruddy added NewsGuard and GDI attempt to "demonetize conservative media, and it's a threat to our constitutional freedoms."

Several major advertising agencies are using NewsGuard's rankings to block advertising to conservative websites, television, and podcasts.

Ambassador Ric Grenell said the same to Newsmax in March.

"This is how regimes control the narrative," Grenell said. "This is how they control the media.

"And what's happening right now with NewsGuard is that they are absolutely a far-left organization taking taxpayer dollars and finding ways to manipulate the rating system and control Big Tech and all of the other tools of the media."

Grenell was referring to grants from the Biden administration, the State Department, and the Department of Defense, among them, made directly to NewsGuard.

Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., in March called a $750,000 grant from the DOD to NewsGuard "appalling."

"We actually have a government grant funding a fact-checker to censor American citizens," Dunn said. "That's pretty appalling, and it certainly is a violation of the First Amendment."

Conservatives are not the only ones rankled by NewsGuard's brazen efforts to engage in censorship.

Liberal journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger have decried NewsGuard's activities as a real threat to free speech.

"Some NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], like the GEC-funded [Global Engagement Center-funded] Global Disinformation Index or the DOD-funded NewsGuard, not only see content moderation but apply subjective 'risk' or 'reliability' scores to media outlets, which can result in a reduction in revenue," Taibbi wrote.

Shellenberger, appearing before Congress, testified, "Both the Global Disinformation Index and NewsGuard are U.S. government-funded entities who are working to drive advertisers' revenue away from disfavored publications and towards the ones they favor. This is totally inappropriate."

Mark Swanson

Mark Swanson, a Newsmax writer and editor, has nearly three decades of experience covering news, culture and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Elon Musk railed against the left-wing media fact-checker NewsGuard on Thursday, calling the ratings company a "scam" and saying it should be "disbanded immediately."
elon musk, newsguard, fact-checker, left-wing, conservatives, censorship, europe
Friday, 20 October 2023 09:24 AM
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