'News Source Trustworthiness Ratings': What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

If you think fact-checkers are worse than worthless...

A proposal in a Stanford University journal for a "news source trustworthiness ratings" system would, in theory, eliminate the need for fact-checkers, if implemented. Yes, fact-checkers are already unnecessary — and potentially dangerous, of course —but stay with me.

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Gordon Pennycook, co-author of the proposal, told Just the News:

Our research shows that trustworthiness ratings have a psychological impact. Nothing about what we find necessitates a particular source for such ratings. Nor does it necessitate a particular way of implimenting [sic] such ratings.

Pennycook said there's a "mountain of difference between how people use the ratings if you provide them" and "mind control." How Orwellian.

If that isn't the most chilling denial you read today, I'd be flabbergasted. 

The fact that people like Pennygood even feel a need to deny that such proposals constitute an attempt to control the thoughts of the population at large is a tacit admission that that's exactly what proposals like "news source trustworthiness ratings" are intended to do. 

I mean, we're damn near talking about the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's "People's Daily," or Vladimir Putin-controlled Russian news agency, "Tass," here. 

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Mike Benz, a former State Department official who leads the watchdog group Foundation for Freedom Online, told Just the News that the Stanford proposal is deliberately fraudulent.

The whole point of the study is you don't even need fact-checkers to fact-check the story, a labor-intensive endeavor across the internet, if social media platforms simply apply a 'scarlet letter' to disfavored news sources. [By creating] the appearance of having done a fact-check, it's deliberately fraudulent.

Bingo. And the dystopian reality in Benz's observation couldn't be clearer. 

As is the case with the fact-checker problem — who fact-checks the fact-checkers? — who would create the so-called "scarlet letter"? Who would decide what's "disfavored," and what's not? The questions are troubling in a free society, and the more control the left attempts to usurp, the more troubling the questions become.

And here's the money shot: 

"Creating the appearance of..." has always been a fundamental tool of totalitarian governments and other forms of non-democratic societies and it always will be. As Saul Alinsky wrote in "Rules for Radicals":

 He who controls the language controls the masses.

Here's more:

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[The proposal] lauds the work of self-described professional fact-checkers without noting their less-than-noble recent history. Many COVID claims have been validated or judged debatable after fact-checkers declared them misinformation, and an American Medical Association journal recently published a paper that still deems the lab-leak theory misinformation.

Snopes.com, perhaps the first self-described fact-checker, has repeatedly flagged the explicit satire of The Babylon Bee. It also retracted 60 articles by its cofounder David Mikkelson in 2021, published during its Facebook fact-checking partnership, following a BuzzFeed News investigation that found 54 were plagiarized.

It gets worse. The study authors wrote:

Professional fact-checking of individual news headlines is an effective way to fight misinformation, but it is not easily scalable, because it cannot keep pace with the massive speed at which news content gets posted on social media.

[News may be labeled false] after it has already been read by thousands, if not millions, of users. Corrections often reach a different audience from the one reached by the original, untagged, headline [and a substantial proportion of people [don't trust fact-checkers].

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See what they're getting at, here? If the left can pre-fact-check content, it can also eliminate content with which it disagrees from being disseminated to the public before it's published. 

Moreover, is there any wonder why a substantial percentage of the public doesn't trust fact-checkers? 

The example of Snopes ridiculously "fact-checking" satire aside, all one needs to remember is how the left, including Biden and the Democrats, suppressed and/or censored COVID so-called "misinformation" that proved to be factual, and of course the Hunter Biden laptop scandal — AKA: "Russian plot."

Just imagine what the left could do with preemptive "news source trustworthiness ratings." 

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