by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Tens of millions of American school children will soon rely on a liberal media watchdog group to determine what counts as misinformation.
The American Federation of Teachers this week struck a deal to license NewsGuard web browser extensions to its 1.7 million union members. Students across the country will soon rely on NewsGuard’s tools to determine the reliability of hundreds of websites. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said her union will use NewsGuard to help students to “separate fact from fiction” and “develop their critical-thinking and analytical skills.”
But while NewsGuard claims to be nonpartisan, one analysis of its rating system found it skews heavily in favor of liberal outlets. The Media Research Center found NewsGuard rates liberal sites 27 points higher in terms of trustworthiness than conservative outlets. Nine out of the 10 websites on NewsGuard’s misinformation list are conservative or pro-life websites. NPR, which came under fire last week for an inaccurate story about the Supreme Court, is listed as one of its most trustworthy sites, along with other establishment media outlets.
The deal comes amid an intense debate over the spread of left-wing curricula in America’s schools, as well as school lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. Parent groups have protested against the infiltration of progressive ideology, such as critical race theory, into the classroom. They have also blamed the American Federation of Teachers for supporting school closures during the pandemic. Weingarten has been accused of pushing inaccurate studies about the effectiveness of masks in classrooms.
NewsGuard insists it is politically neutral, noting that it has given negative ratings to liberal news outlets. …
… One of NewsGuard’s biggest funders is the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a philanthropy that backs numerous left-wing causes, including a journalism department at Howard University headed by Nikole Hannah-Jones.