James Comer Launches Investigation Into Major Censorship Operation

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer announced on Thursday that he has launched an investigation into NewsGuard, a supposed arbiter of media reliability. The aim is to ascertain the “impact of NewsGuard on protected First Amendment speech and its potential to serve as a non-transparent agent of censorship campaigns.”

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This development comes amid widespread concerns about private organizations colluding with government agencies to suppress certain forms of speech on digital platforms.

Comer recently sent a letter to NewsGuard’s leadership raising concerns about its relationship with the federal government, according to the announcement.

“Our inquiry seeks documents on NewsGuard’s business relationships with government entities, its adherence to its own policies intended to guard against appearances of bias, how it tries to avoid and manage potential conflicts of interest arising from its investors and other influences, and actions that may have the impact of delegitimizing factually accurate information,” Chairman Comer wrote. “One concerned journalist expressed fear that NewsGuard’s activities are an extension of federal efforts—since struck down by courts—to coerce social media companies and to ‘destroy the financial survival of disfavored outlets…’ The Committee seeks to make an independent determination about whether NewsGuard’s intervention on protected speech has been in any way sponsored by a federal, state, local, or foreign government.”

NewsGuard bills itself as an organization dedicated to providing “transparent tools to counter misinformation for readers, brands, and democracies,” according to its website.

The organization includes a team of journalists who create a reliability rating system that scores various news outlets for accuracy based on various criteria. It has come under scrutiny for what many perceive as its bias against right-leaning outlets, including RedState, which have been the target of numerous censorship and demonetization efforts.

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In the letter, Comer noted that a contract NewsGuard has with the Defense Department is a “primary concern for the Committee” because it “raises questions about the involvement of federal agencies in potential censorship campaigns.”

Comer also pointed out that while the organization claims to be unbiased, several of the journalists listed as “editorial” on its employee lists wrote posts on social media displaying a clear bias in favor of the left. The letter includes screenshots of the posts.

The letter raises concerns about NewsGuard’s approach to dissenting views about the COVID-19 pandemic and its efforts to “suppress information that may challenge widely held views but is not itself inaccurate.” Comer gives the example of an article published by The Daily Sceptic about a Johns Hopkins University study showing that lockdowns were “unnecessary, ineffective, and harmful.”

NewsGuard “took issue with the story despite The Daily Sceptic adding a note to address specific NewsGuard criticisms, which included noting that the research study had not been peer-reviewed even though the original article had not claimed otherwise,” according to the letter.

Comer stresses that “We are concerned with the potential involvement of government entities in interfering with free expression.”

The organization has often been accused of attacking free speech that contradicts leftist narratives. In November, a coalition of organizations formed the Free Speech Alliance that advocates for stripping NewsGuard of federal funding.

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The organization is one of several that is receiving taxpayer funds to push a censorship agenda specifically against right-leaning news outlets while consistently rating left-leaning operations higher.

NewsGuard and similar organizations have not only attacked conservative outlets by trying to tarnish their reputations, they have also gone after their revenue sources, persuading companies to refrain from spending advertising dollars with the sites. 

RedState has also been targeted for its role in pushing back against left-wing narratives, which is why we need your support more than ever. By joining our VIP program, you will not only help keep us in the fight, you will also gain access to premium content behind the paywall. Using promo code SAVEAMERICA will get you a 50% discount. Become a member today! 

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