Narrative Control Firm Targeting Alternative Media

NewsGuard is led by some of the most virulently pro-imperialist individuals in America and its agenda to shore up narrative control for the ruling power establishment is clear, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone

The frenzied, hysterical Russia narrative being promoted day in and day out by Western mass media has had two of its major stories ripped to shreds in the last three days.

report seeded throughout the mainstream media by anonymous intelligence officials back in September claimed that U.S. government workers in Cuba had suffered concussion-like brain damage after hearing strange noises in homes and hotels with the most likely culprit being “sophisticated microwaves or another type of electromagnetic weapon” from Russia. A recording of one such highly sophisticated attack was analyzed by scientists and turned out to be the mating call of the male indies short-tailed cricket. Neurologists and other brain specialists have challenged the claim that any U.S. government workers suffered any neurological damage of any kind, saying test results on the alleged victims were misinterpreted. The actual story, when stripped of hyperventilating Russia panic, is that some government workers heard some crickets in Cuba.

Another report which dominated news for a day recently claimed that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (the same Paul Manafort who the Guardian falsely claimed met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy) had shared polling data with a Russian associate and asked him to pass it along to Oleg Deripaska, who is often labeled a “Russian oligarch” by western media. The polling data was mostly public already, and the rest was just more polling information shared in the spring of 2016, but Deripaska’s involvement had Russiagaters burning the midnight oil with breathless excitement. Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall went so far as to publish an article titled “The ‘Collusion’ Debate Ended Last Night,” substantiating his click-generating headline with the claim that “What’s crystal clear is that the transfer to Kilimnik came with explicit instructions to give the information to Deripaska. And that’s enough.”

Except Manafort didn’t give any explicit instructions to share the polling data with Deripaska, but with two Ukrainian oligarchs (who are denying it). The New York Times was forced to print this embarrassing correction to the story it broke, adding in the process that Manafort’s motivation was likely not collusion, but money.

These are just the latest debacles as reporters eager to demonstrate their fealty to the U.S.-centralized empire fall all over themselves to report any story that makes Russia look bad without practicing due diligence. The only voices who have been questioning the establishment Russia narrative that is being fed to mass media outlets by secretive government agencies have been those which the mass media refuses to platform. Alternative media outlets are the only major platforms for dissent from the authorized narratives of the plutocrat-owned political/media class.

Imagine, then, how disastrous it would be if these last strongholds of skepticism and holding power to account were removed from the media landscape. Well, that’s exactly what a shady organization called NewsGuard is trying to do, with some success already.

report by journalist Whitney Webb for MintPress News details how NewsGuard is working to hide and demonetize alternative media outlets like MintPress, marketing itself directly to tech companies, social media platforms, libraries and schools. NewsGuard is led by some of the most virulently pro-imperialist individuals in America, and its agenda to shore up narrative control for the ruling power establishment is clear.

The product that NewsGuard markets to the general public is a browser plugin which advises online media consumers whether a news media outlet is trustworthy or untrustworthy based on a formula with a very pro-establishment bias which sees outlets like Fox News and the U.S. propaganda outlet Voice of America getting trustworthy ratings while outlets like RT get very low ratings for trustworthiness. This plugin dominates the bulk of what comes up when you start researching NewsGuard, but circulating a plugin that individual internet users can voluntarily download to help their rulers control their minds is not one of the more nefarious agendas being pursued by this company. The full MintPress article gives a thorough breakdown of NewsGuard’s activities, but here’s a summary of five of its more disturbing revelations:

No. 1 The company has created a service called BrandGuard, billed as a “brand safety tool aimed at helping advertisers keep their brands off of unreliable news and information sites while giving them the assurance they need to support thousands of Green-rated [i.e., Newsguard-approved] news and information sites, big and small.” Popularizing the use of this service will attack the advertising revenue of unapproved alternative media outlets which run ads. NewsGuard is aggressively marketing this service to “ad tech firms, leading agencies, and major advertisers”.

No. 2 NewsGuard’s advisory board reads like the fellowships list of a neocon think tank, and indeed one of its CEOs, Louis Gordon Crovitz, is a Council on Foreign Relations member who has worked with the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation. Members of the advisory board include George W Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, deep intelligence community insider Michael Hayden, and the Obama administration’s Richard Stengel, who once publicly supported propaganda in the U.S. (see the Tweet below for a direct quote.)  All of these men have appeared in influential think tanks geared toward putting a public smiley face on sociopathic warmongering agendas.


No. 3 Despite one of its criteria for trustworthy sources being whether or not they are transparent about their funding, the specifics of NewsGuard’s financing is kept secret.

No. 4 NewsGuard is also planning to get its news-ranking system integrated into social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, pursuing a partnership which will make pro-establishment media consumption a part of your experience at those sites regardless of whether or not you download a NewsGuard app or plugin.

No. 5 NewsGuard markets itself to state governments in order to get its plugin installed in all of that state’s public schools and libraries to keep internet users from consuming unauthorized narratives. It has already succeeded in accomplishing this in the state of Hawaii, with all of its library branches now running the NewsGuard plugin.

We may be certain that NewsGuard will continue giving a positive, trustworthy ranking to the New York Times no matter how many spectacular flubs it makes in its coverage of the establishment Russia narrative, because the agenda to popularize anti-Russia narratives lines up perfectly with the neoconservative, government agency-serving agendas of the powers behind NewsGuard. Any attempt to advance the hegemony of the U.S.-centralized power establishment will be rewarded by its lackeys, and any skepticism of it will be punished.

We need to use every inch of our ability to communicate with each other to make these manipulations clearly understood.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on Facebook, Twitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” This article was re-published with permission.

70 comments for “Narrative Control Firm Targeting Alternative Media

  1. Jill
    January 23, 2019 at 13:52

    Here is the response of my library. As I don’t yet know if they will let me include the name of the library or the person who responded to me I will leave that information out.

    “Thanks for being in touch with your views on Newsguard. Here are some of the factors we weighed in making our decision:

    Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms. This is a role the library has traditionally played with books, magazines, movies, and so on. We have trained our staff and community in web literacy basics, and the NewsGuard tool is just one of many tools we use to help our communities navigate and participate in an increasingly complex media landscape.

    NewsGuard is a web browser plug-in powered by a team of trained journalists and experienced editors who rating and review thousands of news and information websites based on nine journalistic criteria like whether the site regularly publishes false content, reveals conflicts of interest, discloses financing, or publicly corrects reporting errors. They use humans, not algorithms, to identify unreliable news because they believe this work should be done with transparency and accountability. You can read more about the organization and their work here.

    The Library wants to emphasize a distinction between media literacy and censorship. Media literacy means knowing how to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Censorship is determining what people are or are not allowed to access or view. The NewsGuard shield that appears next to a search result or social media post does not stop a customer from visiting the link. It does inform them about the credibility of the organization that generated that link.

    In summary:

    The Library is committed to improving web literacy and digital citizenship – reading, writing and participating on the web Promoting literacy is at the heart of the Library’s mission, and that includes web, news, and media Literacy. If a customer does not want NewsGuard they can use Firefox or EDGE and disable it Right-Click on the shield in the Upper Right Corner and “Remove” or “Manage > Disable.” Either works fine.

    • Skip Scott
      January 24, 2019 at 08:07

      Thanks Jill. I would ask the library how NewsGuard rates articles from CN, Truthdig, the Intercept, and other independent media outlets. That would give a good indication of their criteria for “credibility”. I would bet dollars to donuts that their “credibility” criteria aligns with empire and oligarchy, and that repeated retractions from WaPo and the NYT found in small type on the back page days or months later have no effect on those institutions’ credibility rating.

  2. mike k
    January 20, 2019 at 15:34

    We must be making them nervous – they are spending a lot of energy to shut us down.

    • Jean 1
      January 21, 2019 at 15:36

      I think Caitlin is making them nervous! She is one hell of a good reporter. She belongs in the pantheon with Glenn Greenwald and Bob Parry. And while we’re at it, let’s expose Bob’s death. I smell a rat there.

  3. Hawaii Guy
    January 20, 2019 at 00:02

    The sad and real tragedy of this is for future generations. I am 53 and extremely computer savvy, I understood way back when Compaq computers were $3500.00 for 8mb ram that the internet was an unending, amazing, research tool. Today’s kids don’t own computers and it’s basically impossible to learn how the world is functioning from there smartphones. Directed manipulation will ensure you never see a story Ling to a site like CN, RT, Telesur, GrayZone etc. If you don’t know it exists you probably never will in this info war age.

    • Eric32
      January 20, 2019 at 12:10

      > the internet was an unending, amazing, research tool. Today’s kids don’t own computers and it’s basically impossible to learn how the world is functioning from there smartphones.<

      Exactly. In fact, they're being trained into being myopic nitwits – peering into tiny screens, congratulating themselves when they figure out how to uselessly navigate Android mazes. And, they're being socialized by the crappy often perverse people who inhabit "social media".

    • Skip Scott
      January 22, 2019 at 07:29

      Directed manipulation abounds. We need to do our best to subvert it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a smart phone or a computer. Smart phones have the same internet capability. It is just a matter of keeping our youth from “entertaining themselves to death”, to quote Neil Postman from NYU. And it’s not just the kids, it’s most of the US population.

    • Realist
      January 23, 2019 at 00:43

      When I got my first Apple //e back in the 80’s I saw the possibilities that we have realised, what I didn’t see was the will on the part of its developers to advance digital communications and the internet as incredibly fast and extensive as has happened. Even more mind boggling has been the will exerted by the American military industrial complex to dominate digital media from top to bottom, inside out, leading to the tyrannical intrusion of the NSA and the other intelligence agencies into the deepest crevices of the life of every person on the planet. There’s no better description of a system that vacuums up every bit of digital information ever transmitted anywhere on the planet.

  4. clif
    January 19, 2019 at 09:29

    Asking NewsGuard to publish a list of ‘rejected’ or ‘flagged’ articles could help maintain their transparency, and provide some oversight in keeping media open to all.

    • Devil's Advocate
      January 19, 2019 at 16:39

      You mean, like the way PropOrNot did?!
      Good idea. Let’s just disregard that these groups never provide the reasoning behind their lists, and then get some other group to “document” and “list” all the groups that are so “transparent” with their “lists”. Maybe just for good measure, we can have another group report on what the other group reporting on all the other groups is doing. Now THAT’S open media! :(

      Seriously?! You know what works better than letting someone else tell you who’s telling the truth? CRITICAL THINKING! People need to start learning how to use their OWN BRAINS again.

      • Anne Jaclard
        January 21, 2019 at 18:29

        Except the Orwellian powers of this NewsGuard reach yet further.

        According to the Common Censored podcast by Eleanor Goldfield and Lee Camp, there is a setting on the plugin that outright blocks the red rated websites and removes them from your display. This means that all libraries that install this and all public universities that choose to turn that setting on will be creating a literal Matrix, blocking the real world. This setting can presumably be turned off by customers but it’s a matter of time before it is automatically set on all devices unless it is turned off in the settings, depriving alt media of most if not nearly all traffic. This system needs to die before it lives – Americans need to write to every newspaper that promotes this, it could be spread to the UK and beyond…. a China style censorship system for the “Liberal Order.”

        • vinnieoh
          January 22, 2019 at 09:58

          Thank you Anne. Considering the ultimate intent of this firm’s activity these further details of their plug-in product seem quite “natural” and I would have been surprised if these “features” were not part of their “product.” Kind of like Cortana on Windows. Didn’t want it (oh, hell no!) and can’t get rid of it; I know, despite my best efforts to eradicate it from my machine, that its basic code is self-replicating and is always at work reporting back to MS and therefor anyone who wishes to purchase data pertaining to me, one of their powerless serfs. When I turn on my MSW 10 computer it says “Welcome” and I know who the boss is.

    • Hawaii Guy
      January 20, 2019 at 00:04

      I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  5. michael
    January 19, 2019 at 08:05

    It is disappointing that America has becoming a Soviet -style police state with less obtrusive and more powerful technology. At another site there was a debate about flagging “Fake News” . The obvious question: who would do the flagging? As it turned out that, the article was using Buzzfeed determinations (which is comical since Special Counsel Mueller just dropped out of the clear blue sky to debunk a Buzzfeed article on Trump telling Cohan to lie; Buzzfeed stands by its story as any news outlet would.) The Washington Post’s PropOrNot was the first step, along with the repeal of the Smith Mundt anti-propaganda Act allowing the CIA to softsoap foreign policy through the main stream media. Evidently (some) Americans want to examine all sides of an issue and make their own determinations. And the CIA narratives suffer from competition. An app that says a news source may be unreliable is not so much a problem, if you can still read and decide for yourself. The logical next step for the CIA is to throw up warnings such as “UNSAFE SITE!” or “Someone is trying to get your banking information!” whenever you go to alt sites. While the NSA could be doing something useful to disrupt scams and phishing attacks, that is not in their purview rather they seem a major part of the problem. Bible thumpers banning and burning books now seem quaint memories.

  6. From the Wilderness
    January 19, 2019 at 07:11

    Hey, some truth from the CFR; all countries do propaganda. Yep, be aware and get used to it. Its been true since you were born and before then.

    Also know, that if you use singular monolithic news sources (CNN, Fox, Google News, Facebook whatever) you will be receiving this propaganda. It no doubt slips into smaller news producers (indeed, some may be wholly aligned to whatever narrative is being pushed), but DIVERSIFY your news sources and follow PEOPLE not organisations.

    Its all about trust. Find people that inform you well (by verifying their claims) and then listen to what they say. When things are too comfortable OR too radical, re-verify. In the process, you’ll come across more interesting commentators. Rinse, repeat.

    Do NOT trust powerful institutions. The more powerful they are, the more likely they spin “power narratives”.

  7. Realist
    January 19, 2019 at 01:43

    So, News Guard is kind of like Right Guard for my eyes, rather than my arm pits. I’m sure it’s painful but purifying.

    Well, doubleplusgood if it will keep me from committing thoughtcrime and getting sent to joycamp or, worse yet, being rendered an unperson. Yes sir, only goodthink and duckspeak from this prole. Here’s to another glorious victory in the never-ending war against Eurasia.

  8. Tom
    January 18, 2019 at 23:07

    Thank you Caitln, as always, and Jill for alert re public library. I’ll be checking with mine.
    On a positive note, in the past, I found PropORNot list ‘o evil websites to be a fruitful repository of good lefty sites. Perhaps NewsGuard can provide that same service.

  9. G.K.
    January 18, 2019 at 23:02

    Get ready for all the control freaks within certain far-west and far-east (north eastern) states to arm themselves with this disappointing app.

  10. Sam F
    January 18, 2019 at 20:45

    Many thanks to Caitlin Johnstone for this news of the fake NewsGuard.

    In addition to the rise of economic power which has destroyed our erstwhile democracy, the power of information control was not foreseeable by the framers of the US Constitution. Until we have amendments to restrict funding of mass media and elections to limited individual donations, financial monitoring of politicians through their lives, and regulation to ensure fairness in mass media, we do not have a democracy.

  11. January 18, 2019 at 20:25

    “It has already succeeded in accomplishing this in the state of Hawaii, with all of its library branches now running the NewsGuard plugin.” – this is truly frightening. Those living in Hawaii are going to find it impossible to get any accurate reporting on their own Tulsi Gabbard while online at their local library, that’s for sure.

  12. January 18, 2019 at 19:14

    It’s not precisely right to label the Voice of America as a propaganda outlet. It typically comes closer to the truth on foreign affairs than NPR or PBS. If you want to say they’re all propaganda, well OK. But of the three, Voice of America is the least pernicious. And VOA’s Straight Talk Africa, for example, is the best broadcasts about Africa that I know of

    • January 18, 2019 at 20:27

      Ann – thanks for sharing those observation’s Ann. Unexpected and quite interesting.

    • LarcoMarco
      January 19, 2019 at 00:41

      Yes, Radio Free Europe is pure propaganda, not VOA.

    • January 20, 2019 at 11:29

      The CIA always tries to class things up a bit in its front operations, which is exactly what VOA is.

      The way they insert disinformation and propaganda is fairly subtle.

      They do hire intelligent psychopaths at Langley.

      • Jean 1
        January 21, 2019 at 15:45

        O I love you! “Intelligent psychopaths”. Indeed, the sites that are “mostly true” but then slip in the odd propaganda pill are the most insidious. Spoonful of sugar and all that. That’s what Racheal has become and it causes me great distress because she’s so good. But she turns out to be a talented propagandist that all the Hillary wanks just love.

  13. Tom Kath
    January 18, 2019 at 19:10

    Censorship always goes both ways. Every author must know the value of being “denounced by a Bishop” or “Banned in Boston”. Copernicus may well have been disregarded but for the major efforts to silence him.
    Of course I am all in favour of Caitlin so expertly encouraging awareness of the fact that anything you are FORCED to believe must be a lie or false.

  14. vinnieoh
    January 18, 2019 at 17:18

    So the plug-in could be quite useful, save a lot of time. Whatever gets green-checked should be ignored because those messages will saturate the msm and you won’t escape them, and whatever is red-checked you definitely won’t see on your evening news, so maybe check it out. On teevee the system is known as “talking heads.” Have the words “climate change” or “global warming” ever passed the lips of your local TV weatherman? Not here, none of them, not once.

    But of course the larger danger is in their other products. Let’s just re-name this place China, and be done with it.

  15. rosemerry
    January 18, 2019 at 16:50

    This is worse than frightening. Even without Newsgarbage (sic) there is a huge bias in the mainstream media and even on many “alternative” sites eg “alternet” and “the smirking chimp”. For people to be forced or even to use such a censoring mechanism voluntarily will reduce even more the likelihood of lack of any points of views varying from the “official story” on so many issues. People will not trust themselves to use critical thinking, or even to contemplate alternative opinions.

  16. mike k
    January 18, 2019 at 16:49


  17. KiwiAntz
    January 18, 2019 at 16:47

    Trump needs to hold some of these Media types to account for the endless & false narratives being put out into the Public sphere? The Fourth estate has protections under the US Constitution but their efforts to undermine a Democratically elected President & Govt is TREASONOUS & must be punished for inciting a regime change Coup against its own Govt because that is what the MSM is trying too do? And now there is the latest, fake false attack by this Buzzfeed Author, a well known faker, slandering Trump from unknown sources, that states, without a shred of evidence & any proof that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump’s Russia dealings? When is this stupid Trump going to “man up” get off the damn Twitter & unleash the full force of the law to get these people arrested, thrown in jail & trialled for TREASON against the state for inciting a Coup against the US Govt & it’s President? It’s ridiculous how these Media can get away with this Russiagate nonsense for as long as they have? One of these MSM types needs to get either jail time or preferably the Death Penalty as a warning example to the rest of these Clowns that fake Media slander will not be tolerated? It’s inly alternative Media such as this site & others like the RT Channel that you ever get the true facts behind the falsehoods? Enough is enough & the MSM has a responsibility to act in a ethical way & if they don’t behave themselves they must be forced too get their house in order or face punishment!

    • Sam F
      January 18, 2019 at 20:55

      The misconduct of US mass media must be corrected, but it is not treason. The US Constitution limits that to “making war upon these United States” due to abuses of the charge in England. Acts of economic or information warfare might be deemed treason if extreme, but should be handled distinctly.

      Executive action could, however, seize our corrupt mass media and (with preparation) turn them over temporarily to the state universities, until Congress passes adequate legislation to restrict their funding to limited individual donations, and to monitor all levels of their organization for balance, fairness, and transgressions of influence.

    • Miranda M Keefe
      January 19, 2019 at 15:37

      Wow, it sounds to me like you want Trump impeached and are suggesting a course of action that will guarantee it happens.

  18. willow
    January 18, 2019 at 15:42

    The ACLU needs to take this on and nip it in the bud NOW!

  19. Greg Cantin
    January 18, 2019 at 15:01

    Another great article. Thanks!

  20. Mike Perry
    January 18, 2019 at 15:01

    Since 2009 – 2010, vs. FEC, and Citizen’s United, etc., well, you read ’em:

    The following table shows how many State Legislatures were controlled outright by each party:
    Year .. Democrats .. Republicans .. Split
    2008…… 23……………… 15…………. 12
    2009…… 27……………… 15…………. 8
    2010……. 27……………… 15…………. 8
    2011……. 15………………. 27…………. 8
    2012……. 15……………… 29…………. 6
    2013……. 17……………… 28…………. 5
    2014……. 17……………… 28…………. 5
    2015……. 11……………… 31………….. 8
    2016……. 11……………… 31………….. 8
    2017……. 12……………… 32…………. 6
    2018……. 13……………… 32…………. 5

    The following table shows how many Governorship’s were controlled outright by each party:
    Year .. Democrats .. Republicans .. Independent
    2008…….. 29……………… 21
    2009…….. 26……………… 24
    2010…….. 26……………… 23……………….. 1
    2011…….. 20……………… 29……………….. 1
    2012…….. 20……………… 29……………….. 1
    2013…….. 20……………… 30
    2014…….. 21………………. 29
    2015…….. 18………………. 31……………….. 1
    2016…….. 18……………… 31………………… 1
    2017…….. 15……………… 34………………… 1
    2018…….. 16……………… 33………………… 1
    2019…….. 23……………… 27

    The following table describes how many State Governments were fully controlled by either party or split:
    Year .. Democrats .. Republicans .. Split
    2008…….. 14……………… 10………… 26
    2009…….. 18……………… 10………… 22
    2010……… 17……………… 10………… 23
    2011………. 11……………… 22………… 17
    2012……… 11……………… 24………… 15
    2013……… 13……………… 25………… 12
    2014…….. 13………………. 24………… 13
    2015………. 7………………. 24………… 19
    2016………. 7………………. 23………… 20
    2017………. 5………………. 25………… 20
    2018………. 7………………. 25………… 18
    2019…….. 15………………. 23………… 12

    The current summary of the United States:
    President, Republican, Electoral Votes 306-232
    U.S. Senate, Republican, 53-47
    U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic, 235-200
    Governor, Republican, 27-23
    Majority in State Senate’s, Republican 32-18
    Majority in State House’s, Republican 30-19

    In 2020, the government will conduct the census. Those numbers will then be utilized for the Re-Distracting by each of the States in 2021 for their City, County, State, and Congressional Districts. .. Now go back and take another look at just who will own the show of drawing those maps of what Will Be – the geography of the land until the year, 2032..

    .. In all 50 States, we have Tons Of Work to do (.. like Corporate Person-hood & Money is speech, (..iow: rise above the Parties..)). … (… And, I believe that all of the Western Society’s are suffering from the same rapid, “rightward shifts” to their Democracy’s.)

    …. But, especially this cycle, here in the U.S., the Establishment wants nothing more than for you and I, to sit around, and simply state about whether we will vote “..Progressive..” or whether we will vote “Green” .. (..or maybe even, not at all..).

    ….. They would love nothing more.

    • rosemerry
      January 18, 2019 at 16:57

      During Obama’s 8 magnificent years these numbers showed up very clearly, and despite all of H Clinton’s protests, her loss was on the cards even with her faults and the terrible alternative we now have.

  21. Anne Jaclard
    January 18, 2019 at 15:00

    NewsGuard immediately disqualifies itself and places itself into opposition against critical thinking and the 99% by rating Fox News, which denies climate change and promotes corporate values, as trustworthy while seeing real WikiLeaks documents as spam for being “irresponsibly presented,” ie not censored and filtered to remove exposes of the rich. Not to mention that it’s anti-intellectual by hand-holding news readers and not allowing them to analyse sources for themselves. Expect generation 2.0 to outright block “red” tape led sites in the vein of spam email, all under the guise of protecting democracy.

    • Sam F
      January 18, 2019 at 21:11

      Very true. The lack of safeguards against information control, its simplicity and secrecy, make action to regulate the fairness and balance of mass media absolutely critical. It has made our culture so selfish and simple-minded that it will not likely recover democracy without being destroyed economically.

  22. ML
    January 18, 2019 at 14:58

    Thank you Jill and thanks to Caitlin Johnstone for another vitally important article. Spread this wide and far.

  23. Jill
    January 18, 2019 at 14:52

    Jeff and Jerry,

    Thank you for what you wrote.

    My husband also questioned the library about celebrating banned book week while using newsguard. He wrote: “NewsGuard may not be outright banning or censorship, but it still passes a judgment on the veracity & reliability of news sources that will influence the net browsing of library patrons.”

    He pointed out that NewsGuard generally equates “trustworthiness with with being a mainstream news organ. The problem is that mainstream sources can get it wrong & are too often mouthpieces for the powerful. If the Church were still running the show would Galileo get a green mark? How trustworthy & accurate was the New York Times coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War?”

    Not that long ago, librarians tried to fight NSL’s on behalf of their patrons. (Although not widely known, they may now disclose NSL’s to patrons.) Today, librarians are participating in state/corporate repression of ideas. Things are changing very rapidly for the worse. It’s extremely scary.

  24. Al Pinto
    January 18, 2019 at 14:51

    The Newsguard would be somewhat trustworthy, if an when it would mark the news media with “hyperventilating Russia panic” as not trustworthy. In lack of doing so, the Newsguard is nothing else, but thought control. We live in a world, where most people read just the headlines to form their opinion. It’s hard to say how alternative media, like CN, would change the opinion for the masses. Especially, if one takes it in to account, that the current environment is mainly due to the US education system that does not teach critical thinking. Just like in sales, a well informed customer isn’t a desired one, nor is Newsguard intended for people with critical thinking…

    As for the browser plugins, it’s there in some of the browsers, but can be disabled by the end user. How many people will make the effort to disable the default settings is another question. Especially, when it is forced down on people’s throat by Microsoft, Apple, Google, and alike. Maybe they have the same “hyperventilating Russia panic”, in which case we are doomed…

  25. Eric32
    January 18, 2019 at 14:43

    It’s a valuable needed service – you just ignore the info they rate highly, and evaluate for yourself what the Neocons rate lowest. ;-)

    People have some good reasons for disliking Trump and the kind of things he backs, but he really has caused these manipulative elite cruds to take their masks off.

    It’s been 50+ years since the JFK, MLK, RFK assassinations and the American populace mostly passively accepted the unlikely narratives given to them. Maybe what’s been happening recently will wake them up.

    • January 19, 2019 at 10:48


      With all due respect, please offer your sincerest explanation for Donald Trump’s silence and inaction while Julian Assange experiences ongoing persecution and imprisonment inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, plus Trump’s silence and inaction over the unconstitutional arrest and detainment of American-Iranian PressTV broadcast journalist Marzieh Hashemi.

      While you reference the political assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and likely-president Robert F. Kennedy one finds it difficult to find reason for positioning Donald Trump in the same commentary, particularly and specifically, when Donald Trump has shared nothing with the American people concerning the real facts and brutal truths behind JFK, MLK and RFK’s early deaths.

      Thank you.

      • Eric32
        January 19, 2019 at 18:30

        >please offer your sincerest explanation for Donald Trump’s silence and inaction while Julian Assange experiences ongoing persecution<

        I think it's pretty obvious. Right from the start Trump has had (obviously) fabricated Russian collusion charges leveled at him, including the Hillary emails that Assange released, that have had over two years of repetitive media amplification, that have been ruining him politically.

        Without any proof, just repetition, a large part of the American public believes all this stuff. Like someone once said: nobody ever lost money betting on the stupidity of the American people.

        Assuming Trump actually cares anything about Assange (he has a habit of jettisoning inconvenient people), if he acted to help him, there would be an avalanche of media, CIA, FBI crap descending on him pretending that that confirmed his Russian collusion via Wikileaks.

        He would be impeached (i.e. indicted), and if enough of the moronic public bought into it, he might well be convicted by a Senate fearful of the next election, and ousted.

        He doesn't have any real Republican much less Democrat friends – the stuff he says and tries to do messes with all their corrupt sources of money. And he's a narcisst – how many narcissts want to go through the kind of punishment Nixon went through?

        The truth is, Assange is screwed. The FBI intends to pretend Assange is a foreign espionage agent and prosecute him along that line. And, if they can pull the kind of crap on a sitting President that they have, Assange has little chance.? There's no "just" legal system in the US if you have the FBI much less the CIA after you. The CIA can tell the judge the whole proceeding including evidence are a national security matter, everything is inviolable secret, no public exposure, no usual legal recourses, he will be indicted in a Federal district that never denies the FBI/CIA anything, and buried in solitary.

        • January 20, 2019 at 14:40


          You wrote: “He doesn’t have any real Republican much less Democrat friends – the stuff he says and tries to do messes with all their corrupt sources of money.”

          Thank you for taking the time to respond. A few things with regard to that specific sentence, particularly with emphasis on clarification of extreme vagueness … Please elaborate, with details (other Consortium News Trump supporters’ inputs are also encouraged) on:

          1.) The “stuff” he (Trump) says and tries to do,
          2.) Evidence for the assertion Trump “messes” with Republican and Democrat corrupt money sources,
          3.) Reasons for predicting the narcisst (sic) Trump faces the same political fate as Nixon,
          4.) If Trump were truly sincere in his declaration of “draining the swamp” he wouldn’t have chosen and appointed the swamp-defining people surrounding him in his administration, nor allow the constitutional right to freedom of speech specified in the 1st Amendment to become trampled underfoot by throwing Julian Assange under the bus, or “screwed”, forever, and
          5.) Many Trump supporters have bizarrely claimed he is playing some sort of “esoteric, 5-D chess…”. Why would Donald Trump choose that mass confusion-creating option, as opposed to simply sharing the plain, blunt truth with the American people?

          Please prove the assertion wrong, but the truth is … Donald Trump is essentially an actor playing the part of President of the United States. The situation could not be any more dangerous.


          • Eric32
            January 21, 2019 at 15:54

            First, most of his life, Trump has been a half crooked real estate operator. But he has also voiced doubt and questions about the JFK assassination, the 9/11 attacks and a number of other episodes that look a lot like deep state operations to many people.

            Having someone in the highest position in the US govt., calling attention to some obvious signs of an historical pattern of deep state operations is what his CIA, FBI, media etc. enemies fear most.

            Political coverups are not about stopping a few people writing books and calling attention to contrary evidence, they’re about not letting average people become conversant and familiar with what the available evidence actually points to.

            A President using his powers to reveal things (declassification of govt. documents, insistance on FOIA releases), to order re-investigations, a press covering him doing it, and his using his pulpit to broadcast all this is a very real threat to bad actors and future public manipulation and endless unwarranted wars.

            In Oct., 2018, Trump caved in to the CIA and further delayed release of some JFK assassination FOIA documents – he shouldn’t have.

            It does tell you something that 55 yrs after the event, they’re still afraid of releasing those documents.

            The reason they fear the truth coming out about JFK, is that a whole string of similar events have gone on, and no doubt some continue to go on.

            That’s what they fear most and that is why he immediately got such storm from the CIA, FBI, Republican and Democrat operatives, the British intelligence services, etc.

            A person can be known by his enemies.

            I think Brennan, Clapper, Hayden, the Clintons who started the de-industrialization of the US, are enemies that indicate that there might be something valuable about Trump considering the history of the US.

            1.) The “stuff” he (Trump) says and tries to do,

            He voices doubt about deep state kabuki shows: JFK, 9/11, etc. He did it publicly with millions watching. ex: the Rafael Cruz reference during a debate.

            Also, re. the phony Clinton foundation, the Russian Uranium deal. The Hillary would be in jail quip.

            2.) Evidence for the assertion Trump “messes” with Republican and Democrat corrupt money sources,

            Come on. Endless war, big profits for weapons manufacturers, Haliburton, campaign contrbutions, corporate positions, “consulting” positions. The Clinton foudation money network.

            He ordered a withdrawal from Syria and apparently he can’t even get that done, but he’s trying.

            3.) Reasons for predicting the narcisst (sic) Trump faces the same political fate as Nixon,

            Watch the news.

            4.) If Trump were truly sincere in his declaration of “draining the swamp” he wouldn’t have chosen and appointed the swamp-defining people surrounding him in his administration, nor allow the constitutional right to freedom of speech specified in the 1st Amendment to become trampled underfoot by throwing Julian Assange under the bus, or “screwed”, forever, and

            I agree. But with Hillary you would had the same type people with a better facade.

            And she just laughs at “conspiracy theorists”, especially ones who talk about the Clinton foundation.

            Assange? – Oct 3, 2016 – WikiLeaks tweeted a story Monday claiming Hillary Clinton asked in 2010 whether it would be possible to kill the group’s founder, Julian …

            5.) Many Trump supporters have bizarrely claimed he is playing some sort of “esoteric, 5-D chess…”. Why would Donald Trump choose that mass confusion-creating option, as opposed to simply sharing the plain, blunt truth with the American people?

            You’ll have to ask the 5-D chess people. I think Trump is flailing around after more than two years of what amount to conspiratorial attacks from sources mentioned above.

            So, if he’s so bad, why haven’t they come up with something to indict or impeach him with?

            > Please prove the assertion wrong, but the truth is … Donald Trump is essentially an actor playing the part of President of the United States. The situation could not be any more dangerous. <

            The deep state wants him gone – badly, for reasons I've mentioned above.

            It would be more dangerous if the person who was the prime mover in the destruction of Libya and then shipped weapons to Jihadis in Syria, was President.

            And it would be a lot more dangerous for Assange.

  26. mike k
    January 18, 2019 at 14:41

    Slimy folks use slimy methods to con their victims. Support your independent news sources. Tell your friends where to get real news.

  27. Jeff Harrison
    January 18, 2019 at 13:56

    Amen, sister. This is an extremely dangerous development. This will likely destroy what little remains of our democracy even faster than gerrymandering.

  28. Jeff Taska
    January 18, 2019 at 13:54

    Looks like they’ll bundle this NewsGuard app the way they do with MicroSoft’s Internet Explorer, so it’s on all your devices and you can’t remove it.

    My take is anyone who values their own privacy and wants to be rid of propaganda and advertising brainwashes is going to have to learn some basic coding and learn how to DIY remove these apps.

    • Anne Jaclard
      January 18, 2019 at 15:04

      Samsung is also making Facebook undeletable in some new phones. We’re entering a period where we are forced into carrying around corporate spyware with our thoughts and intellectual pursuits 100% boxed in by the corporate Atlantic Council and it’s well-paid allies Nimmo, Integrity Initiative and police.

  29. David G
    January 18, 2019 at 13:20

    It’s chilling to realize we are only at the very early stages of this co-ordinated war on dissent and free speech.

  30. OlyaPola
    January 18, 2019 at 13:03

    “Narrative Control Firm Targeting Alternative Media”

    Ambition should always be encouraged whether it is the end of history, or the seeking of full spectrum dominance, or the quest for narrative control, or an arms race with one participant, or a wall or other frivolities.

    The opponents not only continue to amuse but in addition offer opportunities to others, since, to paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare, the quality of ambition is not always strained.

  31. Jill
    January 18, 2019 at 12:01

    My hometown library informed me they had put on Newsguard. My husband and I both sent letters to them immediately. I will share excerpts of what we wrote.

    As we celebrate MLK Jr.’s life, please remember that although he is now revered, during his lifetime he was considered by many to be a subversive. He was surveilled by the FBI and reviled as a traitor and “communist” for his stance against the Vietnam War and social justice for people of all races.

    These ideas, that the war was wrong, that black men and women deserved full human rights were considered controversial and dangerous. If Newsguard had been in existence at the time, do you think MLK’s works would have received a green check as suitable for reading? I don’t believe he would because he challenged the dominant culture of his time.

    One example of current controversy is Wikileaks, a publication which even it’s worst enemies admit has a 100% accuracy rate. The information provided by them has been used in international courts of law to achieve convictions against war criminals. Yet many people despise Wikileaks and consider it subversive. Newsguard gives Wikileaks a red check despite 100% accuracy in their reporting.

    I must strongly argue that celebrating MLK day is hypocritical if you will not stand up for the free dissemination, without prior judgment, of unpopular ideas, including ideas which conflict with the dominant world view which pertains in the US today.

    The library does not give blessings or curses to books or magazines within it’s collection. It provides the books/magazines and trusts the reader to make their own judgment about content. Likewise this ought to be the case with electronic information.

    Newguard has no place in a public library. Libraries should never offer approval for what should and should not be read. If you keep Newsgaurd, please end your celebration of MLK Jr.. You are mocking his memory and everything he stood for. That celebration is itself completely fake. Take Newsguard off now.

    P.S. Copernicus was fake news in his day.

    • mike
      January 18, 2019 at 12:53

      How did you find out that your library was doing this? Did they make it known to patrons?

    • David G
      January 18, 2019 at 13:24

      Really excellent comment, Jill. I hope there are actual human beings at your library capable of being moved to action by your letters. Thanks and good luck.

      • Jill
        January 18, 2019 at 14:33


        My library sent out an announcement about it. They are very excited to have this new tool to avoid fake news.

        My understanding from a Mint Press News article is that Newsguard is targeting libraries for this “service”. IMO, it is likely your own library is being encouraged to “help” their patrons through censorship of bad thoughts!!!


        Thank you for your kind words of support. It’s not a huge system so I’m fairly certain it did get to a person. I’m going to keep bothering them but as of yet, I have not heard anything back. My husband wrote last night and we’ll see if they respond to him. I’m not holding my breath. I think they should be able to argue why what I’m saying is wrong and how what they are doing is not a type of censorship.

        • Realist
          January 19, 2019 at 02:41

          Ha, “new tool to avoid ‘fake news!’ ” Is that how they couch it? How about employing a new tool to minimize attempted mind control and propaganda by the corporatists who think that everything, including the public’s perception of the truth, can be bought and sold? This new tool would be very cheap, in fact totally cost free: simply allow everyone access to every bit of available information disseminated through the media, without censorship, moderation, editorializing or commentary, and let the readers judge its veracity for themselves.

          Let’s be honest, the corporatists would STILL have an overwhelming advantage in the war of ideas in that they would still underwrite the publication and broadcast of over 95% of all available content. I know they feel they should have control of it ALL, but this attempt to characterise any slight deviation from the party line as “fake news” which must be suppressed really smacks of absolute tyranny and totalitarianism. This is right out of Orwell’s “1984,” which they’ve been diligently following as a manual since at least the start of this century. And, btw, tax-funded public libraries should not be taking sides in the political propaganda wars any more than government-funded media like PBS and NPR ought to do. Yet they do, with the consequence of flushing constitutionally-protected free speech right down the commode. They very deliberately control the information at your disposal which in turn determines popular opinion and the passive acceptance of government policy no matter how damaging to the public interest.

          • Miranda M Keefe
            January 19, 2019 at 15:56

            They were freaked out by Bernie Sander’s massive support even though their controlled propaganda arm either ignored him or mocked him. It totally shocked them that alternative online sites and social media was used by actual people to bring his campaign to the point he won many contests and nearly stopped their anointed candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

            So they’ve been using the RussiaGate hysteria to stop this from every happening again. Before they’d figured that these alternative sources and social media were operating as a steam valve and they could just ignore it in their inverted totalitarianism. Their thinking was that you might not be able to fool all the people all of the time, but if you fool most of the people all the time that was enough. Now they know that didn’t work.

            So they’re making sure it will work.

          • Gregory Herr
            January 19, 2019 at 21:46

            What’s fake is true and what’s true is fake. This really does smack of tyranny & totalitarianism circa “1984”.

            What’s happened to this country that our “academic community “, our “justice system”, and now even our “public” libraries can acquiesce to such a blatant assault on what our citizens used to be able to think of as “American” ideals?

        • David G
          January 19, 2019 at 10:31

          I meant human being in the moral rather than the biological sense. One might hope a library still has a few hanging in there, but time will tell.

    • Jeff Harrison
      January 18, 2019 at 14:00

      Three thumbs up, Jill

    • January 18, 2019 at 14:32


      Thank you and your husband for taking right action and standing against the dangerous censorship development represented by the so-called “NewsGuard.” Might millions of Americans and millions of others around the planet follow your fine example and kill this despicable truth-murdering devolution monstrosity now, – before it becomes even more asphyxiating, suppressing and out of control.


      • Anne Jaclard
        January 18, 2019 at 15:06

        Student groups and anti-censorship librarians should form a network across the US with running plans to coordinate efforts to block the rollout of this dystopian agenda.

    • Skip Scott
      January 18, 2019 at 14:53

      Great comment Jill. Please let us know how they respond.

    • January 18, 2019 at 15:30

      P.S. Copernicus was fake news in his day.

      Actually, it was a bit more complicated but in a way that illustrates the “fake news” issue very well. For about 50 years about publication, Copernican theory was not particularly controversial, some astronomers knew it, the public did not care and the Catholic dignitaries who opposed it did not make the case for the prohibition. Only when the theory gain new support from natural scientists like Galileo, Kepler and Bruno the Catholic authorities decided to ban it.

      Similarly, wacky news circulated widely for decades, but it is precisely the larger visibility of well researched and well written alternative news that provoked the organized opposition. Moreover, the example of countries like China, Iran etc. became attractive: technologies, initially developed to “protect children from pornography” were adopted by censoring bodies of not-so-democratic governments and pave the way for censorship in the West.

    • vinnieoh
      January 18, 2019 at 16:51

      Great statement Jill & husband. Do you know if the library admin understands just what Newsguard does?

    • January 18, 2019 at 20:23

      Jill – bravo, and thanks for sharing your feedback to the library. I’ll be checking with our local library to see if they have been approached on Newsguard. Thank you Jill.

    • Maxwell Quest
      January 18, 2019 at 21:40

      Great letter, Jill! It should give your library food for thought, which they should find hard to counter.

      It always seems to be the case that saints, prophets, or inspired reformers in any field are set upon by the ignorant masses, who themselves are urged on to their proxy violence by the very elite threatened by the new ideology. Later, after their “Give us Barabbas!” hysteria has settled (the threat has been neutralized, so we can all go back to the status quo), they proceed to build statues and dedicate holidays to their victims.

    • LarcoMarco
      January 18, 2019 at 23:29

      As Cornell West says, MLK has been “SantaClausified”.

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