Making A List, Checking It Twice: Here's The Year's Most Misinforming Sites

I'm pretty sure that when historians look back on this period they will remember it as the epic time in the war on truth. Hopefully, they will not remember it as The Epoch Times, which is one of the worst repeat offender websites publishing disinformation over the past year, according to NewsGuard, the news and information content ratings service created by a trustworthy journalist, Steve Brill.

NewsGuard, which just released its "top 10" lists for 2020, includes a ranking of the most blatant "Misinformers" (left-hand column in table above) followed by "Repeat Offenders," "Unsung Heroes" and "Trustworthy & Trending" sites.

It's not surprising that the ten most trusted publishers are among the most recognizable "mainstream media" ones. Or that the worst offenders are probably ones of you have never even heard of. Not that I'm encouraging you to check the out, or that I or NewsGuard would want to give them any more attention than they already have, but it's good knowing that someone is keeping an eye on them.



Perhaps even more insidious is the second column of "Repeat Offenders," which readers of TheRighting know include some of the most heavily trafficked extreme right-wing news and "information" sites, most of which ARE probably well known to you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as keen on the First Amendment as anyone, which is why I applaud NewsGuard's right to publish its ratings, rankings and critiques, and why I'm using this column to amplify it.

So yes, these publishers have a right to exist -- or even persist -- but in the alternate realities that have become the composite known as modern day America, it's important that we have an independent third-party arbiter of their veracity. So kudos to NewsGuard for hanging in there in what must be difficult times. And if you're like me, I'm adding its "Unsung Heroes" list to my 2021 to do list.

5 comments about "Making A List, Checking It Twice: Here's The Year's Most Misinforming Sites".
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  1. Joshua Chasin from VideoAmp, December 17, 2020 at 12:02 p.m.

    It pains me to say this, but I'd feel better about the Newsguard lists if they'd managed to find at least one left-leaning entity for the two left-most columns, or one right-leaning entity (Wall Street Journal? National Review?) for the right-most two. 

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., December 17, 2020 at 12:13 p.m.

    @Joshua Chasin: Fair observation, but I guess it's in the eye of the leaner. If you ask me, the ones in the right-hand columns are -- with the possible exception of Newsweek -- not leaning in any direction. They're "mainstream" media. But to those on the extreme right, "mainstream" is code for, well, you know... I think a fairer point is whether they include any extreme left-leaning sites on their worst offenders list. Since I don't read them, it's hard for me to know if any of those aren't already. But I'll take your word for it.

  3. Joshua Chasin from VideoAmp replied, December 17, 2020 at 12:46 p.m.

    Although people on the right will say that The NY Times, WaPo, and The Atlantic are all socialist rags... and that if you take NBC and MSN and glue 'em together, you get MSNBC. 


  4. Kris Magel from Dentsu Aegis Network, December 20, 2020 at 9:59 a.m.

    Joe, I love that you regularly seek to hold media accountable for truth - something that has become particularly critical to me personally lately and a reason I choose to pay for journalism. My experience however is that several of the mainstream outlets identified on the right by this study are, in fact, quite liberally biased. For example, in my personal experience outlets such as the NYT and NBC News DO have journalistic standards, focus on fact-checking and on the pursuit of the truth, no question. However there is also no question in this reader's mind they also position their stories with a significant left-leaning point of view. This is why I personally subscribe to both the NYT and the WSJ; I read them both, throw out any biased positioning they introduce and attempt to wring out what I think are bias and distill to just the facts, which is all I seek. So I agree w the commenter above, it's very strange the WSJ isn't noted on the right (wonder where it ranks), which I think would make this study more credible. This is all opinion, but I hope an educated one. Not that it's relevant but, my mother raised a liberally-minded son, but this is how I feel it's now necessary approach my consumption journalism. No need to address the sources on the left side, I find those findings dead-on.

  5. Joshua Chasin from VideoAmp replied, December 20, 2020 at 2:58 p.m.

    I tend to agree. Especially with your point about the WSJ.

    In fact with newspapers (as opposed to networks) one needn't debate political perspective, because they make endorsements. The last Republican the Times endorsed for president was Eisenhower in 1956. So we can pretty much state empirically that the Times leans left. The WSJ doesn't make endorsements, but it's clear they lean right. Yet they don't seem to be reporting the fiction espoused by Trump and the titles on the left above that Trump "won... by a lot." 

    Informative versus misinformation is a different spectrum than left- versus right-leaning editorial; you can be both left-leaning (or right-leaning) and factual/informative. So I was also surprised the Journal didn't make that "Trustworthy" list. 

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