Leftist ratings firm NewsGuard claimed that it’s not federally funded after journalists accused the organization of receiving government money at the recent Twitter Files hearing. But NewsGuard lists the Department of Defense and State Department as Partners and received a substantial Department of Defense “grant” in 2021.
NewsGuard’s co-CEO Gordon Crovitz claimed in the wake of the recent Twitter Files Congressional hearing that the leftist ratings firm is “not a non-profit funded by government grants,” according to an email screenshot tweeted March 10 by Washington Examiner Investigative Reporter Gabe Kaminsky.” But a payout of nearly $750,000 from the Department of Defense (DoD), which NewsGuard itself previously called a “grant,” seems to indicate otherwise. NewsGuard also lists DoD and the State Department as “partners” on its website.
MRC Free Speech America reached out to NewsGuard General Manager Matt Skibinski about the DoD funding it had received. Skibinski did not deny the government contract, and then doubled down on the co-CEO’s claim that NewsGuard is “not” government funded.
“That’s like saying the Wuhan laboratory wasn’t government funded,” said MRC President Brent Bozell. “They were just providing a service for the government.”
MRC Free Speech America & MRC Business Vice President Dan Schneider said, “All money is fungible. Whether it’s a contract or a grant, NewsGuard still received funds from the federal government and has exhibited an obvious leftist bias.”
A 2021 NewsGuard “Social Impact Report” undercuts the narrative currently being spun by the leftist ratings firm. NewsGuard referred to funding it had received in September 2021 as a “grant through the Small Business Innovation and Research [SBIR] program.” SBIR is overseen by the DoD. The contract listed on USASpending.gov from the DoD to NewsGuard Technologies, Inc. shows the leftist ratings firm was awarded $749,387.
Kaminsky tweeted on March 10 that NewsGuard co-CEO Gordon Crovitz sent Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi an email after Taibbi testified to Congress. The email in the screenshot Kaminsky provided claimed that comments made during the hearing that NewsGuard is “U.S. government funded” was a “fundamental misunderstanding about NewsGuard and our work.” Crovitz insisted NewsGuard is “not a non-profit funded by government grants,” but a business whose data government entities “pay to license.”
In the email screenshot, Crovitz insisted government licensing has no impact on NewsGuard’s ratings, but admitted NewsGuard “alert[s] officials in the U.S. and in other democracies” to supposed “false narratives targeting America and its allies.” Crovitz insisted, “We are proud of our work countering Russian and Chinese disinformation on behalf of Western democracies.”
Crovitz’s concluded: “So we are not ‘funded’ by the U.S. government, like you we oppose government censorship.” Taibbi’s fellow Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger tweeted in response to Kaminsky that he received a “nearly identical” email from Crovitz.
The Media Research Center has been onto NewsGuard for quite some time. An MRC Free Speech America study published Dec. 13, 2021 showed that NewsGuard’s ratings were skewed in favor of left-wing outlets. The average NewsGuard score for the outlets AllSides labeled “left” and “lean left” was 93/100, while the average rating for “right” and “lean right” outlets was a low 66/100—a 27 point disparity. MRC Free Speech America conducted the same study again a year later and confirmed NewsGuard’s bias. The most recent study published Jan. 6, 2023 showed that NewsGuard rated left-leaning media outlets 25 points higher on average than right-leaning media outlets.
Joseph Vazquez contributed to this article.
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