Online News Filter Targets Conservative Sites

A purported non-partisan news filtering service called NewsGuard is advising companies to pull advertising from sites and outlets deemed "unreliable. "Most of the sites on its unreliable list are conservative or conservative-leaning, such as Breitbart News, The Drudge Report, and the Daily Mail. There is at least one liberal site on the list as well, the Daily Kos.

While NewsGuard claims it is simply applying an "extra layer of protection" to help weed out "false news," some critics are dubious. "I'm not sure that this is great in the long run for a civil society, to be trying to get advertisers to back out of particular news organizations just because of viewpoint positions," says Jeff McCall , media critic and professor at DePauw University. "It really makes every part of our media world a partisan part of our media world, and I think a lot of people are trying to get partisanship out of some of the media perspectives out there."

McCall also believes services like NewsGuard are questionable in their own right. "I'm a little concerned about any news filtering browser that pretends to be able to tell you what is accurate and what is not," he says.

In recent years, advertiser boycotts have become the rage for activists on the left. Last year, such a campaign was aimed at Fox News host Laura Ingraham but ultimately failed, as did a similar attempt against Sean Hannity in 2017.

Not only does McCall think these campaigns are often misguided and polarizing, but they actually harm the advertisers themselves, who are often goaded into limiting their reach. "As an advertiser it's your job to move product," he says. "And there might be people who are news consumers of Drudge Report or Breitbart News who would actually buy your product, and help move that product."


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