Three congressional lawmakers sent letters to NewsGuard and the American Federation of Teachers union. The letters cited original MRC Free Speech America research to illustrate NewsGuard’s leftist bias and the dangers of its new partnership with the leftist teachers' union.
Republican Reps. Jim Banks (IN), Virginia Foxx (NC), and Burgess Owens (UT) sent a letter to NewsGuard Co-CEO Steven Brill questioning the company’s bias and worrisome partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The lawmakers also sent a letter to AFT President Randi Weingarten.
The lawmakers cited the finding that left-leaning outlets promoting progressive views, such as Jacobin and Occupy Democrats, received high ratings. “These are hardly unbiased entities, and any rating system that ranks them as such deserves our scrutiny,” the congressional lawmakers wrote.
The letters requested information on a number of points from NewsGuard and AFT, including documentation of the events that led to the partnership, whether parents were consulted on the partnership and NewsGuard’s criteria for determining information’s veracity.
The letters expressed “concern” over the groups’ “‘anti-misinformation’ partnership.” The letters then cited MRC Free Speech America original research to illustrate NewsGuard’s bias and make the case for why the platform shouldn’t be trusted as an unbiased referee for news content that K-12 students consume.
The lawmakers quoted NewsGuard’s claim that the news ratings firm uses “apolitical journalistic criteria,” and explained why this claim is outright false. “[A]n analysis of NewsGuard’s rating system by MRC Free Speech America found clear liberal bias in NewsGuard’s misinformation scoring system – in other words, NewsGuard’s misinformation grades are themselves misinformation,” the letter said. “MRC Free Speech America’s analysis determined NewsGuard has scored left and left-leaning outlets an average of 27 points higher than right and right-leaning outlets.”
MRC Free Speech America found that outlets classified as “left” or “lean left” by AllSides had an average NewsGuard score of 93/100. Meanwhile, outlets labeled “right” or “lean right” by AllSides had an average NewsGuard score of 66/100.
The letters also noted NewsGuard’s ratings of Chinese state-controlled media, citing MRC Free Speech America’s original research on the topic. “To make matters worse, NewsGuard has even ranked several Chinese state-run media outlets higher – that is, more trustworthy/truthful – than popular conservative U.S. news sources,” the letters state. They also noted that NewsGuard seemed to rate Chinese state-controlled media as more unbiased than U.S. conservative media.
The lawmakers said AFT apparently prefers American schoolchildren to read Chinese propaganda rather than right-leaning American content, calling the apparent priority for communism “absurd and unjust.” The letters noted: “These factors taken together demonstrate that NewsGuard is not qualified to determine the veracity of any news, let alone determine the truth for millions of American school children.”
The lawmakers added that AFT also took biased actions in the past. AFT “fought feverishly against in-person instruction” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the documented harms of remote learning. The lawmakers said in the letters that AFT donated “overwhelmingly” to Democratic Party candidates and that Weingarten had appeared with Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, during the 2021 election.
The letters ended with a list of questions seeking transparency around the AFT-NewsGuard partnership and the two organizations’ business practices.
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