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Consortium News Sues “Misinformation” Arbiter NewsGuard

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NewsGuard Technologies Inc., an organization focused on combating “misinformation” in news media, along with the federal government (which has a contract with NewsGuard), is facing legal challenges over alleged defamation and First Amendment breaches, respectively. The plaintiff in the case is the Consortium for Independent Journalists, which initiated the litigation in the Southern District of New York.

We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.

Founded in 1995 by the late investigative journalist Robert Parry, Consortium has contributed an impressive 27,000 articles to the journalistic landscape. Yet, amidst this vast collection, NewsGuard has taken issue five articles, the news outlet alleges, and, as a result of this has put a mark next to every news article on the site in its ratings system.

The entirety of CN’s online archive now bears a red mark when viewed through search engines or social media platforms that use the NewsGuard system.

“NewsGuard attaches an electronic ‘label’ to every CN item on search engines and social media that warns NewsGuard subscribers to ‘Proceed with caution’ because Consortium News ‘fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability,’ the complaint alleges. “Such statements slander and defame Consortium News and are arbitrary, wanton, malicious and reckless.”

The lawsuit takes particular offense with NewsGuard’s system of attaching a label next to all articles from the outlet.

“NewsGuard arbitrarily attaches such ratings to the entire production of a news organization, even where NewsGuard has taken issue with only one or a small number of the organization’s productions.”

The complaint continues: “This means that any article produced by a targeted news entity will have attached to it the NewsGuard red flag and label even if NewsGuard never read the tagged article or if NewsGuard had no dispute with the particular article.”

The lawsuit implicates NewsGuard’s “Misinformation Fingerprints” program and its contract with the Department of Defense Cyber Command – a component of the intelligence community – as the instruments used to carry out these alleged violations.

The claim posits that media bodies expressing counter opinions or contesting the US stance on international affairs, specifically related to Russia and Ukraine, are systematically tagged as anti-American and spreaders of Russian misinformation.

Consortium News has experienced this, with six of its articles having been labeled “misinformation” by NewsGuard.

These labels are visible to users when accessing any article from the site’s extensive archive of over 20,000 pieces.

The lawsuit argues that this tarnishes the entire output of Consortium News. In addition to these allegations, the lawsuit highlights NewsGuard’s lack of communication with Consortium News since its establishment in 2018, up until March 2022.

Elon Musk recently called for disbanding NewsGuard for its reportedly biased assessment system, condemning and defaming narratives that diverge from the “approved narrative.”

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