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Newsguard Green Light: “Legal Insurrection does not distort facts to advance opinions”

Newsguard Green Light: “Legal Insurrection does not distort facts to advance opinions”

“… the site handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly…. Headlines can be opinionated, but do not distort facts or mislead readers about the content of stories.”

Newsguard is a company formed by Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz to rate websites to provide advertisers and readers who add the Newsguard browser add-on with an assessment of website journalistic credibility.

Its homepage proclaims:

“NewsGuard uses journalism to fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation. Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists, research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism—and which are not.”


SAY YOU’RE SCROLLING through Facebook, see an article that seems a little hinky, and flag it. If Facebook’s algorithm has decided you’re trustworthy, the report then might go to the social network’s third-party fact checkers. If they mark the story as false, Facebook will make sure fewer people see it in the News Feed. For those who see it anyway, Facebook will surface related articles with an alternative viewpoint just below the story.

Every major platform—Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and more—has some version of this process. But they all go about it in completely different ways, with every tech company writing its own rules and using black box algorithms to put them into practice. The patchwork nature of promoting trustworthy sources online has had the unintended consequence of seeding fears of bias.

That’s one reason why a group of journalists and media executives are launching a tool called NewsGuard, a browser plug-in for Chrome and Microsoft Edge that transcends platforms, giving trustworthiness ratings to most of the internet’s top-trafficked sites. Those ratings are based on assessments from an actual newsroom of dozens of reporters who comprise NewsGuard’s staff. They hail from a range of news organizations, including New York Daily News and GQ. Together, they’ve spent the last several months scoring thousands of news sites.

To vet the sites, they use a checklist of nine criteria that typically denote trustworthiness. Sites that don’t clearly label advertising lose points, for example. Sites that have a coherent correction policy gain points. If you install NewsGuard and browse Google, Bing, Facebook, or Twitter, you’ll see either a red or green icon next to every news source, a binary indicator of whether it meets NewsGuard’s standards. Hover over the icon, and NewsGuard offers a full “nutrition label,” with point-by-point descriptions of how it scored the site, and links to the bios of whoever scored them.

When I was contacted by Newsguard, and not having read the Wired article or knowing much about them, I was suspicious.

After all, ratings and fact-check systems have been used to malign and ban conservative websites on Facebook and Twitter, and to try to steer advertisers away. Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center used by major social media platforms are so clearly biased and devoted to political suppression that I worried this was just another such effort.

Yet I answered their questions.

But alas, my fears were unnecessary. Newsguard did a credible job judging our credibility. We passed in all areas except for Corrections policy.

The Full Nutrition Label for a website provides more details. Here’s the key entry for us:

Stories cite credible news organizations and websites. Sources are hyperlinked within articles. Legal Insurrection does not distort facts to advance opinions and discloses its conservative perspective on an About page, leading NewsGuard to conclude that the site handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly.

Legal Insurrection does not articulate a corrections policy. Jacobson told NewsGuard in an email: “If there is a minor non-substantive correction, such as a name spelling or job title correction, we generally just make the change. More commonly, when there is additional information that puts the original story in a different context or presents an alternative view or new information, we do that as an ‘Update.’” Because the site has not issued corrections since 2016, and NewsGuard does not classify
updates as corrections, Legal Insurrection does not meet NewsGuard’s standards for regularly correcting or clarifying errors.

Headlines can be opinionated, but do not distort facts or mislead readers about the content of stories.

So we’re good to go.

But you knew that.


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Installed this little extension just for grins. Instapundit is red-flagged. The Federalist gets a green flag. Powerline & Liberty Unyielding are shown as ‘being evaluated’.

Be interesting to watch how this pans out.

And, Yes, I knew that.

So…Water is wet, sky is blue basically?

Seriously, Congratulations! I have always known that.

Hear, hear!

I hope for the sake of the comment section that they don’t bore down to the user level. 😉

    For the most part, what is it you might be worried about re the content of the comments in this blog being examined?

    Whatever the sophistication if the commenting party or their ability to articulate their thoughts, the correctness of thoughts are, for the vast majority, right on the money.

      Didja see the 😉 there?

      Right after posting I had another thought … as many sites as complain about Adblocker and require it to be disabled before displaying content, I wonder if one day MSM sites will require Newsguard to be disabled? 😉

      Somehow that wouldn’t surprise me in this kill the messenger world of ours.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to MrE. | December 10, 2018 at 12:06 am

    I have a dream that one day all sites will be judged by the character of their content and not the content of their comments.

    (I am gonna go ahead and apologize for that one, lol.)

Prof. Jacobson:
Congrats on running a tight ship.


As recorded in Virgil’s Aeneid, Book 2, 19 BC: “Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.”

“Arbiters of what is news” are usually full of it – perhaps not in the beginning.

Trust is earned, and over a long period of time (think: Rush Limbaugh) – just like the scarlet letter of betrayal is. (Think: Bill Krystol)

DouglasJBender | December 10, 2018 at 1:21 am

So who is going to create a site using esteemed Internet commenters (me, I’m looking at you) to judge these supposedly esteemed journalists and give them various ratings?

Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!

Wise words for the cyber age.

If you need someone else to tell you what is safe to read then perhaps you shouldn’t be walking outdoors without an escort.

Just another idiot tool for the masses. How long will it be before this tool is corrupted and used to push one side’s agenda as seems the case for so many other things we see every day? (Remember Politifact and others of that ilk?) As for me, I’d prefer to use the old fashioned method of becoming as informed and educated as I can be and then make my own decisions.

I distrust the entire idea of a rating system, because of the poor results obtained this far from prior organizations. So, I’ll wait. it’s a reasonable effort, so far.

What does Snopes say about NewsGaurd? LOL!

Humphrey's Executor | December 10, 2018 at 8:21 am

“And the commenters are pithy, polite, and cogent.”

NYT and WaPo get green checks?

No thanks …

Kudos Professor J!

If the Old Grey Lady gets a green check, then this extension is waste of space

This will be a list of the approved sites soon enough, or another list like it will. Opposition or mainstream all need to be approved by minitru

While I agree with Newsguard and frequently read Legal Insurrection I also believe Newsguard has an agenda. There should be a simple goal not a series of checkpoints. And that goal is: Does a website tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. If their check marks mean a website does so, count me in. But as yet I am not totally convinced Newsguard’s oversight can be trusted. We have seen news fact checkers before. They have all failed.