This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
NewsGuard, a leftist organization that purports to rate the accuracy of news reports, has been named in a lawsuit citing claims of defamation and First Amendment violations.
According to a report from Just the News, the lawsuit comes from the Consortium for Independent Journalists and was filed in New York.
The organization publishes Consortium News.
The founder, journalist Robert Perry, explains he started some years ago as an alternative to the "groupthink" of maintaining legacy media outlets, the report said
The complaint charges that the federal government and NewsGuard Technologies Inc., which claims to catch "misinformation" in the news media, have "engaged in a pattern and practice of labeling, stigmatizing and defaming American media organizations that oppose or dissent from American foreign and defense policy, particularly as to Russia and Ukraine."
The scheming is done through "a contract between NewsGuard’s 'Misinformation Fingerprints' program and the Department of Defense Cyber Command, an element of the Intelligence Community," it charges.
In what appears to be violations of the First Amendment, as the government is banned from censoring speech, the deal has NewsGuard report "to the government" any media groups that challenge or dispute U.S. agenda points such as the Biden administration's positions on Russia and Ukraine.
The media groups are labeled as "anti-U.S." groups and accused of carrying Russian "misinformation," publishing "false content" and failing to meet journalistic standards.
The complaint outlines how NewsGuard has applied its "misinformation" labels to six Consortium articles, and then posted its derogatory labels to all of the thousands of articles there, "thereby defaming the entirety of the news organization’s output."
NewsGuard allegedly had refused even to contact Consortium about articles on which it focused.
"Yet in March 2022, after NewsGuard signed a contract with U.S. Cyber Command, the 'watchdog' contacted Consortium about articles related to the Russo-Ukrainian war covering subjects that NewsGuard labeled as 'myths,'" the report said.
NewsGuard has had a controversial existence, as Elon Musk recently called for it to be "disbanded," amid concerns raised by multiple conservative groups over NewsGuard's alleged bias.
The complaint seeks a permanent injunction declaring that the joint government-NewsGuard strategy is unconstitutional and barring the government and NewsGuard from continuing with their agenda. It also seeks millions of dollars in damages for defamation and civil rights violations.
It was constitutional expert Jonathan Turley, a popular commentator and law professor at George Washington University, who last year warned that subjecting children in America's schools to the left-leaning bias of "fact-checkers" like NewsGuard "raises the specter of a type of de facto state media."
NewsGuard at the time was working with the American Federation of Teachers, under the directorship of leftist Randi Weingarten, "to flag news sources deemed 'misinformation,'" Turley explained.
That union, while "entitled to be political" and favoring Democrats, he explained, long has been "criticized by conservatives for its support of far-left policies."
And NewsGuard was co-founded by Steve Brill, "who has been accused of bias against Republicans and conservatives," he explained.
"The 'misinformation' label has been used extensively by liberal media to kill stories like the Hunter Biden laptop stories as unreliable. Indeed, Brill is under fire for being one of the voices falsely claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop was likely false Russian disinformation. His company will now put 'traffic lights' on information for children on what sources they rely upon," Turley wrote.
Explained Turley, "Weingarten has declared using Brill’s NewsGuard will be a 'game changer' in preventing students from being 'misled' by news sources. It may well be. It would allow the AFT and school districts to teach students to distrust certain news sources like Fox News, which is given a lower rating by NewsGuard. (For full disclosure, I appear on Fox as a legal analyst).
"Conservative and independent sites continue to bedevil many on the left. The laptop story shows how advocacy journalism is now the norm in many newsrooms. Viewers and readers were told by most media figures, including Brill, that the story was likely Russian propaganda and untrue," he wrote.