NewsGuard, the establishment “news-rating” project that presents itself to the public as an impartial authority on the trustworthiness of news publishers, has labeled Fox News an untrustworthy news source, saying it “fails to adhere to basic journalistic standards.”
Despite presenting itself as a fake news watchdog, NewsGuard’s own founders have fueled false claims about major national news stories. At the height of the 2020 presidential election, NewsGuard co-founder Steve Brill stated on national television that he thought there was a “high likelihood” that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a “hoax perpetrated by the Russians.”
NewsGuard advisory board member and Russiagate conspiracy theorist Michael Hayden signed on to an open letter making the same claim — and has yet to retract it. He remains an advisor to NewsGuard.
The “anti-misinformation” organization has acquired such a strong reputation for targeting conservatives that it was slammed by the chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) wrote a letter to the Pentagon warning of its “extreme partisan bias.”
NewsGuard maintains a browser extension that can be added to Edge, Chrome, and other web browsers. Once installed, NewsGuard “nutrition labels” appear next to links to news websites, with a green label signaling the website is trustworthy and a red label signaling the opposite.
Fox News, along with Breitbart News, Revolver, and the Rebel Media now has a “red” rating. Left-leaning outlets known for publishing uncorrected, misleading information about major stories, like downplaying the Hunter Biden laptop, continue to receive perfect or near-perfect NewsGuard ratings.
News sources that spread the Russiagate hoax, including The New York Times and Washington Post (which jointly won a Pulitzer for their efforts) and BuzzFeed News, also receive NewsGuard’s “green” stamp of approval.
NewsGuard alleges that Fox News has “published numerous false and misleading claims, including about politics and COVID-19,” and that it does not “regularly correct or clarify errors.”
It also cites specific reporting from the channel’s top hosts: Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham. NewsGuard takes issue with claims that coronavirus vaccines do not prevent either infection or transmission of the disease (quadruple-boosted Joe Biden tested positive for COVID this week), and the network’s coverage of the January 6 riot and its ongoing impact on U.S. politics.
NewsGuard simultaneously concedes that Fox News “regularly publishes corrections” to text and video stories, but alleges that it failed to do so at a sufficent level in 2021 and 2022, “particularly in claims about the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.”
Breitbart News asked NewsGuard if it believes that the downgrading of Fox News will reinforce its image as a partisan, anti-conservative organization, and if it could provide specific examples of errors that Fox News failed to correct.
In response, NewsGuard general manager Matt Skibinski denied that the organization has a partisan bias, but did not provide any specific examples.
“NewsGuard’s ratings are based on the same nine apolitical journalistic criteria, regardless of a site’s political leaning, if any,” said Skibinski. “In this case, our most recent review of the site found that the site’s previous practice of correcting factual errors had eroded, leading it to fail the relevant criterion. Readers can view our written description of our rating in our Nutrition Label and assess for themselves how much to trust the site.”
Despite NewsGuard’s insisting on its impartiality, a study from earlier this year confirmed that establishment and left-wing media outlets continue to receive “green” ratings from the organization, despite major uncorrected errors.
The organization has been blasted by one of the top Republicans in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who ordered the Pentagon to preserve documents related to a $750,000 contract it awarded to NewsGuard to study “misinformation.”
“NewsGuard has an extreme partisan bias,” wrote Rep. Banks in a letter to the Pentagon earlier this year. “NewsGuard’s co-CEO, Steve Brill, claimed there’s ‘a high likelihood that this [Hunter Biden laptop] story is a hoax, maybe even a hoax perpetrated by the Russians.’ NPR and the New York Times both received a 100/100 credibility rating from NewsGuard, after dismissing the New York Post’s verified reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. According to reporting from the Washington Free Beacon, NewsGuard’s staff overwhelmingly supports the Democrat Party: ‘Twenty NewsGuard executives and advisers have contributed to Democratic candidates since 2015, with only six giving to Republicans.'”
“The Department of Defense’s financial support for the partisan suppression of political speech is an unacceptable and un-American abuse of taxpayer dollars. Restoring political neutrality to the Department of Defense will remain a priority for me during the 118th Congress.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article previously said that MSNBC received a “green” rating from NewsGuard. MSNBC’s rating was in fact changed to “red” at the same time as Fox News.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.