Conservative blogger considers legal action against NewsGuard over false claims in site rating

Joe Newby, a conservative blogger and US Marine veteran, is the founder of Conservative Firing Line, a blog which has been on the web since 2012. The new app called “NewsGuard” has rated his website with a red check mark – a rating that calls his site into question for those who use Microsoft’s Edge browser. Essentially it creates a blacklist that causes a website to be flagged as untrustworthy. And Newby is not going to take such censorship anymore.

“NewsGuard has given our site a ‘red’ check mark and in its rating claimed they tried to contact us four times through our contact form, which is b******t. I get requests for correspondence all the time and have never seen anything from them. Ever. They called us a conspiracy website and falsely claimed we do not produce anything original. Apparently, their reviewers were either too lazy or too prejudiced (or both) to look through the more than 11,000 posts to see that. I’ve contacted Microsoft and told them I feel the inclusion of the app that spreads false info about conservative sites could make them complicit in libel. I also gave NewsGuard a cease and desist demand telling them to either remove or correct their false info about us or face legal action for libel.” — Joe Newby

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Joe has a stable of conservative writers from across the spectrum. Again, they are conservatives. They do not write from a liberal viewpoint and never will. The Constitution guarantees their right to have an opinion on anything, including the news of the day. They do not have to be neutral in the way they write. NewsGuard thinks they should. Obviously, they haven’t read anything by CNN lately. That is blatantly biased against conservatives and openly hostile.  CNN, by the way, has a “green” mark from NewsGuard.

“I am sick and tired of the efforts by the media elites and their tyrannical allies in places like Silicon Valley and NewsGuard to institute a Soviet-style regime of censorship in the United States because they do not like a certain political point of view. Freedom of the press must apply to everyone or it applies to no one.” Joe Newby

NewsGuard has seriously mixed ratings itself since their partnership with Microsoft. They recently called a Breitbart t-shirt “fake news” – seriously, merchandise is called “fake news.” Someone at NewsGuard needs to take that rubber band off their head, it’s cutting off the circulation.

They also gave the UK Daily Mail a red check mark, but had to remove it after the Daily Mail gave them “input.” Read that, they read them the riot act. Please note also that the Daily Mail and Breitbart are actual news media, not blogs, yet they still went after them too. Currently, Breitbart (media), Drudge Report (aggregator that posts links), and Wikileaks (publisher) are all on the blacklist, along with others.

Joe is a 10-year veteran of the US Marine Corps. He is not prone to empty threats. The Microsoft rep he spoke with told him that there would be “changes” coming, but when and what those are is unclear.

“I did not serve 10 years in the United States Marine Corps to see my country turn into something that censors speech just because it triggers some on the left.” Joe Newby

NewsGuard “Co-CEO” Steven Brill told him they tried to contact him at least four times last year in regards to the negative rating, but only cited three dates in his email. They may have called Albania instead of Joe, but you know, those area codes are confusing to some people. Newby, however, stated that he received no notifications at all from the company.

As far as the claim of no “original content” or “conspiracy theories,” we suspect they cherry-picked stories to justify their rating from the title only and never actually read them. Joe provided them with a VERY long list of original writings that are not cross-posted by those of us who are writers for another blog. They obviously skipped over those because they were unfavorable to their point of view.

Out of more than 11,400 articles on the CFL website, NewsGuard took two headlines and referred to them as violating “basic journalistic standards.” One of those headlines archives they linked to is no longer valid, the other one was posed as a question, not a direct statement. Of course, if they don’t actually READ what is intended by the articles and just look at the headline, they’d come to all the wrong conclusions. Joe has faithfully removed articles that turned out to be false, and corrected ones that need it.

Since when do third party companies get to judge “journalistic standards?” This is a problem rampant across all the social media giants – people who are biased against conservatives enlisted to judge articles as untrustworthy. There is one outlet that stands for freedom of the press: NewsArmor. They are an alternative to the left-leaning groups.

Mr. Brill stated that if Joe provided such a list of original stories, they’d take another look at the rating. He provided such a list. We’ll see what happens next.

“George Orwell’s “1984” was intended to be a warning, not an instruction manual.” Joe Newby


Update: After providing a number of links to original Conservative Firing Line posts, Brill conceded the point that Newby was right and the reviewer got it wrong when claiming we do not provide original content.  It’s a start, but there’s a long way to go…

Update #2:  In a later response, Brill stated that NewsGuard does not dispute what he called our “right to publish” (mighty nice of him) and is “simply providing our research and opinion regarding your website’s adherence to the nine criteria that we have chosen.”  Opinion?  Really?  That claim seems to fly in the face of statements made on NewsGuard’s website, which clearly states:  “We tell you if a news site is reliable—right in your browser.”


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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. All of her posts on Conservative Firing Line are also posted on Uncle Sam's.

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