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Big Pharma funds watchdog of news reports on COVID; disgraced outlets denied recourse


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Washington Times

NewsGuard, which ranks news sites to counter what it deems misinformation, including stories that question COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy, received significant funding from a firm that represents some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies.

NewsGuard’s leaders denied any conflict of interest. They said the group’s investors have never contacted them and have no influence over the company’s rating system.

 

That rating system has steered advertisers from websites such as the British-based Daily Sceptic, which emerged early in the pandemic to challenge lockdowns, mandates, and vaccine safety and efficacy. It also has targeted natural health site Mercola and the conservative-leaning Federalist, which raised questions about mask mandates.

 

Journalists whose sites have been downgraded say the for-profit NewsGuard is working to censor news outlets that produce content its paying clients oppose.

“I think it’s a really sinister organization, and it’s the enemy of good journalism everywhere,” Toby Young, editor-in-chief of The Daily Sceptic, told The Washington Times.

 

One of NewGuard’s investors is Publicis Groupe, which represents some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and health care companies, including COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer. Publicis was among a group of investors that provided $6 million to launch NewsGuard in 2018.

“NewsGuard will be able to publish and license ‘white lists’ of news sites our clients can use to support legitimate publishers while still protecting their brand reputations,” Publicis Groupe Chair Maurice Levy said when NewsGuard launched in March 2018.:snip:

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