Teachers’ Union Teams Up With Steven Brill’s NewsGuard to Flag “Misinformation” for Children

Under the leadership of Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has long been criticized by conservatives for its support of far left policies and support for Democratic candidates. Nevertheless, as a union, it is entitled to be political and most unions favor the Democrats due to their pro-union policies. However, the concern over the AFT’s agenda become far greater when it announced that it would team up with NewsGuard to start to flag news sources deemed “misinformation.” NewsGuard is co-founded by Steve Brill who has been accused of bias against Republicans and conservatives. Conservative sites have previously tagged NewGuard as “heavily skewed” in favor of the left. 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.

The ratings of NewsGuard have long been criticized by conservative sites as favoring liberal sites like The Nation (with a 93 percent rating) over more conservative sites like Fox News (at 66 percent).

The timing of the announcement could not be worse after the New York Times finally recognized that the Hunter Biden laptop story was legitimate and the controversial emails authentic.

For two years, some of us have been hammered as spreading “Russian disinformation” and false allegations in raising concerns over the raw influence peddling by the Biden family. Steven Brill was one of those voices flagging the story as likely “disinformation.” Brill assured viewers on CNBC that this was likely all untrue: “My personal opinion is there’s a high likelihood this story is a hoax, maybe even a hoax perpetrated by the Russians again.”

The media campaign to bury or block the story worked. The Biden family had long been accused of special dealing and influence peddling. The emails were potentially devastating with references to millions from foreign sources, including shady Chinese, Russian, and Ukrainian interests while Joe Biden was Vice President. The media actively participated in shielding the Bidens from the scandal.

In fairness to Brill, he opposed efforts to block the story and did not support moves like Twitter to bar references to the story before the election. (After Biden was elected, Twitter admitted it was a mistake by Democrats then demanded more censorship). I agree with him entirely that the solution is to allow readers to decide by comparing news sources.

However, the interview had an interesting element. Brill’s objections to Twitter and FaceBook killing the story was that they are not qualified to make that decision on what, in his words, is likely a Russian “hoax.”

That is what NewsGuard does in flagging unreliable sources. He is clearly referring to himself as one of those qualified to make that decision. Yet, he was entirely wrong. At the time, many of us were noting that Biden did not deny that this was his laptop, that it was seized by the FBI in an ongoing criminal investigation, and some recipients of the emails had confirmed their authenticity.  Nevertheless, Brill still thought it was all a hoax.

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.

The unsupported hoax claim (which contradicted readily available authenticating evidence at the time) raises the specter of a type of de facto state media. The problem is that such an echo chamber is only fully successful if there is no alternative source of information. Yet, Fox and New York Post continued to cover the story as did some of us as columnists.

The most extreme effort was a letter from Democratic members to pressure companies like AT&T to reconsider whether viewers should be allowed to watch Fox News and other networks. It does not matter that Fox News is the most popular news cable station and even has a greater percentage of Democratic viewers than CNN. The members insisted that “not all TV news sources are the same” and called on these companies to protect viewers from “dissemination” of false viewpoints.

Other members have sought to create algorithmic interventions to steer people away from certain stories or books, including the current NUDGE Act being proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.).

The AFT is now seeking a much earlier intervention with children by getting Brill’s NewsGuard to rate reliable and unreliable sources of news. Weingarten has declared that, with Brill’s help, children and families will no longer be “drowning in an ocean of online dishonesty.”

It is unlikely to be reassuring for many that the children instead will be swimming in a pool carefully maintained by the AFT and NewsGuard.

 

24 thoughts on “Teachers’ Union Teams Up With Steven Brill’s NewsGuard to Flag “Misinformation” for Children”

  1. Along the same lines…. I would be very skeptical of letting schools teach “TRUTH DECAY INITIATIVE” materials to my children, concepts developed by one of the worlds largest defense contractors, RAND. How did they get into the education business?

    https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA112-3.html

    Maybe schools should stick to the basics which promotes children thinking for themselves. It worked for mine & my father’s generations.

  2. “It’s the [forgetting curve], stupid!”

    – James Carville
    _____________

    “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

    – Hans Christian Andersen
    _____________________

    The Emperor, in actuality, has no clothes, and whatever teachers teach, in actuality, will soon be also missing.

    Public school, with the zealous assistance of teachers unions, constitutes an exercise in futility and is, merely, a communist redistribution of wealth plan.

    Teachers don’t really teach, but it doesn’t really matter, because it really is soon forgotten.

    Start here:

    “Brain Science: The Forgetting Curve–the Dirty Secret of Corporate Training”

    Imagine you’re put in charge of your company’s biggest leadership training program. You do everything right: you conduct extensive discovery with your subject-matter experts, you spend weeks authoring the storyboard, your executive team signs off, and you deliver a stellar training experience. Everything goes beautifully and everyone agrees the training was a huge success. Your work is done.

    But back in your office, while you bask in the glory of your success, a dreadful thing is happening inside the brains of your students. The neural networks that your training inspired are beginning to dissolve, and as a result, your employees are quietly forgetting almost everything you presented.

    How bad is the problem? How much do people forget? Research on the forgetting curve (Figure 1) shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 percent of the information you presented. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information, and within a week, forgetting claims an average of 90 percent of it. Some people remember more or less, but in general, the situation is appalling, and it is the dirty secret of corporate training: no matter how much you invest into training and development, nearly everything you teach to your employees will be forgotten.

    – Learning Solutions

  3. I have no problem with any organisation discouraging children from reading racist, bigoted, misogynistic, sexiest and misanthropic garbage, such as websites like this.

    1. Assuming you were correct about the content, you would be assuming that students are unable to learn and discern and second, if there were a threat to them they wouldn’t know about it until it had adversely affected them since they had no way of seeing it coming. Didn’t the Nazis burn books?

    2. Sexiest?

      The other stuff I can ignore because of your ignorance.

      But Sexiest?!?

      This site has nothing Sexy about it.

      (I am assuming you meant Sex-ist but thats not as funny)😜

    3. Democrats calling divisive and racist KKK rhetoric “anti-racism”, doesn’t make it any less divisive and racist KKK rhetoric… Proliferated and supported through the traditional groups the KKK has always gotten their support from, and for precisely the same reasons… The KKK was founded as the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party to fight against Republicans specifically, over political power… They still are, just rebranded in blackbloc. The new fashion statement is still in violation of the KKK act…

      You’re the ones re-segregating… You gonna’ call it “Jim Crow” again? I’m sure they called the establishments of color “safe spaces”, during reconstruction as well, before legally mandating them… You are the KKK… You should bear your burning cross with pride battling against Republicans, same as the KKK always has, since their founding…

      Andrew Jackson was the founder of the Democratic Party, rising to power on the back of his “Indian removal” platform, and preservation of slavery… He organized the “Trail of Tears”, and the Democrats followed him from the Democratic-Republican party which they abandoned, for the new Democratic Party on the basis of his successes regarding “Indian Removal” (genocide), and his support of continuing slavery, by expanding the number of slave states to stack the representation in Congress… (Sounds like the Biden administration, no?)

      “The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with,” Biden said in a interview highlighted by the Post. “What it says is, ‘In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.’ That’s racist! Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?” – Joe Biden

      “Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions built so high that it is going to explode at some point. We have got to make some move on this.” – Joe Biden

      Biden also went much further than just opposing integration policies instituted by the Department of Education, calling it an “asinine concept” and saying, “I’ve gotten to the point where I think our only recourse may be a constitutional amendment.”

  4. Jonathan: Fox (your employer) may be the “most popular news cable station”, as you say, but good journalism is not about winning a popularity contest. Woodward and Bernstein were not exactly household media personalities when they started their investigation of Richard Nixon and the “plumbers”–an investigation that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of the Nixon. Who can name the reporters at the Boston Globe who uncovered the massive sexual abuse of children by priests in the Boston Archdiocese? Watching Fox for just 5 minutes tells you all you need to know about bias, misinformation and disinformation in the media giant. “Tokyo Rose” Tucker Carlson has become the face of Fox who spews out all sorts of garbage disguised as “news”. He “hosts” a “show” every night–not a serious effort at journalism like the aforementioned at the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. Whatever the Fox talking point of the day is often followed by your own post. You provide your own “echo chamber” for Fox which you only complain about in the liberal press. Your posts drip with bias as a defender of Fox.

    Anyone with half a brain doesn’t need Steve Brill’s NewsGuard, the Nation or Fox or any other conservative or right-wing outlet to interpret the news of the day. You prefer Fox and the tabloid New York Post for your sources. I prefer the facts and interpretation I leave for others. You say “conservative and independent sites continue to bedevil many on the left”. What “bedevils” you and the conservative right is the fact there are alternative sources for the news and interpretation. In a flourishing democracy it is the role of journalism to provide a variety of POVs and to make the comfortable powerful feel uncomfortable. In autocracies like Turkey, Russia, Mexico and Hungary journalists are thrown in jail or worse for carrying out their independent duty to report the truth. Do you think we would be better off without NewsGuard or any other liberal or left-wing publication as as an alternative to Fox? That is a frightening thought!

    1. I’m sorry but your are having an argument using the word “Journalism” instead of “Opinion” and that negates the point from the beginning.

      There is very little journalism that still exists in media as a whole and on a 24 hour news channel it’s almost non-existent on all sides.

      I do agree that the best solution is to hear all sides and keep an open mind until you have thought through it.

      Unfortunately the powers that run this world created a short attention span theater for the masses and they stay seated in it just like the passengers in the Wall-E movie.

      I have little hope of changing that juggernaut on either side.

      The only approach is 1-on-1 and local community interaction. If we get grouped by those running things then they get to draw the dividing lines for us.

    2. Dennis, The US never has been a flourishing democracy, it’s a republic. The role of journalism was to provide a variety of POV’s. When journalist coverage of the Trump administration was 92 percent negative, and 96 percent of journalist donations went to Hillary over Trump 2016, The public are not provided a variety of POV’s but rather predictable monochromatic left wing dogma designed to make the uncomfortable feel comfortable as they pursue the man made utopia of th Marxist state.

  5. Turley says:

    “The laptop story shows how advocacy journalism is now the norm in many newsrooms.”

    I hope the DOJ is currently investigating Hunter as well as Joe and will bring charges if sufficient evidence is found. No one is above the law.

    However, I dismiss out-of-hand Turley’s criticism of the MSM. I am utterly indifferent to his argument. Until he begins to hold his own network Fox to the same standard of accountability, he has no integrity on this issue. When he begins to acknowledge the obvious advocacy journalism at Fox, Newsmax, OAN, etc, he will rehabilitate his credibility.

    Turley may be correct about the MSM, but he has no moral standing to point his finger. This is the ineluctable consequence of being a hypocrite. It’s a real pity.

  6. I don’t see any alternative except to teach students to be critical thinkers, to understand the tribalistic cognitive-bias legacy all humans must be on-guard against in themselves first, then others. One unfortunate casualty of this type of learning will be faith-based systems – they will be held to the same level of scrutiny as other systems.

    Of course, those adults who have become ideological and militant will oppose critical thinking training, since they are used to not answering to meritocratic questions and arguments. But, the majority of US adults still believe in centrist ideas of moderation, persuasion, and unity while tolerating ambiguity and difference.

    1. Pbinca says:

      “One unfortunate casualty of this type of learning will be faith-based systems – they will be held to the same level of scrutiny as other systems.”

      Why do you say “unfortunate?” Isn’t it about time that critical fact-based thinking supplant faith-based irrationality? Hasn’t the latter always been holding back science and the progress of humanity for all?

  7. RANDI WEINGARTEN ET AL. THREATEN AMERICA???

    SERIOUSLY???

    —- RANDI WEINGARTEN!!!

    RANDI WEINGARTEN MUST BE ARRESTED AND PROSECUTED.
    ____________________________________________________

    Communist unions do not hold dominion over America; unions have no power at all.

    Communist unions exist to commit criminal acts of coercion, vandalism, property damage, mayhem, threats and intimidation.

    Communist unions ARE the criminal acts they commit.

    To negotiate with unions is to be complicit in criminal acts.

    Give them an inch; they take a mile…

    through the commission of crimes.

    Give them nothing.

    Give them no rewards for their criminal acts.

    —- ’em! Period.

    The word union must never emerge from the mouths of constitutional Americans.

    UNION is antithetical, anti-Constitutional and, in fact, unconstitutional, as usurpation of power through the coercion of illegal “job actions,” “strikes” and illegal and actionable AWOL status.

    Elected officials have NO authority to transfer power to any entity, much less groupings of criminal thug unionists.

    The only thing that must be done by governmental organizations regarding unions, is to dissolve them with extreme prejudice and to relegate them to the dustbin, nay, sewer of communist history.

    WHAT THE —- IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE – YOU CALL YOURSELVES FREE AMERICANS?
    ____________________________________________________________________________

    “They are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.”

    – President Ronald Reagan, PATCO Strike, August 3, 1981
    ______________________________________________

    “Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees, a sworn affidavit, when they accepted their jobs: ‘I am not participating in any strike against the Government of the United States or any agency thereof, and I will not so participate while an employee of the Government of the United States or any agency thereof.'”

    – President Ronald Reagan

  8. I can’t really comment completely on Mister Brill but knowing that he is a New Yorker, Ivy League, Attorney and has been picked by the AFT gives you a significant clue to his left or right status but not absolutely. I noted that Wikipedia places a lot of store in his book of 2015 based on his “Bitter Pill” article in Time Magazine in 2013. He espoused that he exposed the hospitals gaming the system in charging their fees. This was hardly illuminating. He could have talked to any physician who started practice in the 1970’s-1980’s and they would have filled him in on those facts. All systems are a matter of point and counterpoint. You design a system like healthcare and set your rules and any holes will be found and exploited just like hackers do to computer operating systems. You have to be ready to adjust and do it fast. “No plan survives contact with the enemy”, “the enemy has a vote” are truisms that are often forgotten. The simpler the system the harder it is to game. Sort of like taxes.
    We don’t need more gaslighting and evaluations of reliability. Throw it all out there and usually common sense will prevail, but not always so you have to adjust. Seems the greatest damage is done when people’s ability to speak and express their opinions are suppressed no matter what side.

    1. “no matter what side”….Huh? It is ALL one sided! In-your-face Left wing suppression of anyone not on board with their tyrannical train wreck.Wake up, Corn Pop!

  9. Said it before, home school you children.
    If you child decides to attend a university, send them to one that educates, not indoctrinates.
    Consider trade schools.

    I do not watch Fox, but there is a need for alt-media to MSM (to which Fox is apart of) to counter the MSM narrative. Glenn Greenwald did an excellent take down of the recent NYT admission of the authentic Hunter Biden emails and laptop.
    Support alt-media journalists like Greenwald, Taibbi, Weiss, Attkisson, and more. They are better journalists by far individually than some entire MSM newsrooms.

  10. Why not provide instructions to parents and students about how to determine if a news source is reliable–frequent use of About tab, then investigation into bios of their board, staff, etc. Oh yeah, that would be teaching them to be critical thinkers. My bad.

  11. When did teachers become the place to go for an education?

    Educated people follow the adage if you want EDUCATION READ A Book ….. If you want to get laid go to the education community. A take off on Frank Zappa, none the less true.

  12. Public Schools are a cesspit of leftist indoctrination. Education is far down the list of priorities.

    But it is important to understand, this is not something new. It has been going on since the 1850’s when Massachusetts passed legislation for the first Govt school, forced indoctrination.
    Never forget, govt schools are going to push the government narrative. AND, Parents have no say in there child’s indoctrination.

    This from 1951

    In his 1901 book Social Control, Edward A. Ross, a prominent American sociologist and education “reformer,” declared that the primary goal of government schooling “lies in the partial substitution of the teacher for the parents as the model upon which the children forms itself.” Government schooling, he continued, was “an engine of social control,” and to that end it should “collect little plastic lumps of human dough from private households and shape them on the social kneading-board.

    https://cbradleythompson.substack.com/p/when-bolshevik-schooling-came-to?s=w

    Great article exploring the formation of state mandated indoctrination.

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