OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
We’ve talked about NewsGuard on this site before. For those of you who may be new here or unaware of what NewsGuard is, you can read an earlier piece we did about them right here.
In summary, as I wrote in that piece, NewsGuard is a “site and now app used by Microsoft’s mobile service, that rates websites on a number of factors and then shows you a scorecard so that you know whether or not you can trust the website you’re visiting. In essence, it’s another fact checker, but instead of checking facts on specific topics, it just rates websites as a whole.”
I’ve had numerous exchanges with a very nice man, Sam, from NewsGuard over the past few years. Before this week, a week in which we’ve seen calls by Congresspeople to expel OTHER Congresspeople who used their constitutional authority to object to the electoral votes, and a week in which we’ve seen Brandon Straka’s WalkAway Movement page be removed from FB, Trump be silenced on multiple platforms, and the continued purge of conservative opinion in multiple places, I was actually super responsive to Sam. I felt like responding and answering his questions was a responsible thing to do, and the right thing to do. But this week? When his emails started coming, and then voicemails, and then more emails – I found myself getting more and more aggravated. Daisy and I talked, and she gave me the go ahead to respond to Sam in a much different way than I ever have before. In fact, she’s been WAITING for this day. 🙂
If you didn’t read the above linked piece about NewsGuard that I wrote a couple years ago, please enjoy the first six minutes of this video we did in December of 2019 when Sam had just contacted us again.
And then when you’re all caught up, please read the response I sent to Sam this afternoon.
Hi Sam – I’ve received all of your emails and your voicemail as well. I appreciate that you have a job to do and you’re obviously super diligent and thorough about doing it. I also appreciate that you’ve been very polite in your requests, and I’ve tried really hard, during the past two years of our exchanges, to answer your questions as honestly and thoroughly as I can.
But I’ve come to realize that this is an exercise in futility. It doesn’t matter how I respond to your questions. It doesn’t matter that I’ve tried to explain, over and over again, that our website is not a news site, we’re not journalists, we are exactly who we say we are, and we co-founded and continue to co-own our site. The last update Newsguard posted (that I’m aware of) about our site proclaims, “…upon further review, NewsGuard has determined that the site does not disclose ownership…The site’s overall score remains red.”
“Doesn’t disclose ownership.” Seriously? That’s basically an insult, considering the number of email exchanges we’ve had. Am I some sort of phantom?
The NewsGuard rating of “red” for Chicks on the Right will never change. You and I both know this. And frankly, as I’ve tried to explain numerous times, we aren’t news so there is nothing to guard. You can ding us about “not clearly labeling advertising” (we believe our audience is smart enough to recognize an ad versus an article) and not “identifying all content creators” (we honor their privacy when they wish to be anonymous) when calculating our credibility – and of course you WILL ding us for those things – but we reached a decision today. It simply no longer matters to us whether or not you find us worthy of a “green” label. We see the writing on the wall. We see the systematic purge of conservative sites off of social media platforms – it’s happening at warp speed this week now that we’re about to usher in an administration filled with people who want nothing more than to silence dissenting voices.
I recognize that by NOT answering your questions further, we face the risk of further censorship by people and platforms who rely on organizations like yours to tell them how to think. But answering your questions will result in the same outcome. So what’s the point? It’s a lose-lose proposition for us. We know who we are. We’re snarky, funny, entertaining, real people who love chatting about current events in the exact same way we would if we were sitting at a table having cocktails. It’s why people like listening in and reading. We don’t need NewsGuard to validate us.
While I appreciate that you have a job to do, this entire experience has got us feeling pretty jaded, frankly. So I’m gonna leave you with a couple lines from one of our all-time favorite movies (Shawshank Redemption) that seems applicable here – and it’s what we think when we hear about ANY current “fact-checking” site or the word “NewsGuard.”
Here you go:
“To me, it’s just a made-up word. A politician’s word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a s–t.”
It’s not personal, Sam. I mean that. Thank you for your civility.
We’re already labeled RED (that’s the bad rating) by NewsGuard and have been for some time. Perhaps after that email they’ll come up with a whole new color or symbol to rank us with. A yellow star, perhaps.
See y’all in the re-education camps.