PRESS RELEASE: DFI Joins Coalition of Ed & Tech Groups Urging Congress to Investigate NewsGaurd & American Federation of Teachers Partnership

April 22, 2022

WASHINGTON – Today, DFI joined leaders in education and tech policy from 19 organizations and sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of Senate Committees and Subcommittees involved in education policy and oversight, as well as members of House and Senate leadership, expressing serious concerns about a new “anti-misinformation” partnership between the liberal American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and NewsGuard, highlighting the harm that could be done to students and the dangers to core American values in our schools.

In January, the American Federation of Teachers announced a “national partnership with NewsGuard to combat misinformation online.” As a result, tens of millions of students and their families will be exposed to “traffic light” news ratings from NewsGuard, which has a demonstrated history of left-wing bias. AFT has become an intensely partisan organization, with president and lifelong progressive Randi Weingarten openly campaigning with Democratic candidates like Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. The letter highlights NewsGuard’s left-wing political leanings and its biased rating systems, which consistently rate left-leaning news websites more favorably than right-leaning news websites. 

Leaders from the following organizations signed onto the letter: Fight for Schools, American Federation for Children, The Claremont Institute, Parents Defending Education, Moms for Liberty, Internet Accountability Project, No Left Turn in Education, Manhattan Institute, American Principles Project, Students First Rhode Island, Bull Moose Project, Parents United Rhode Island, Edmund Burke Foundation, Yankee Institute, Awake Illinois, Conservative Partnership Institute, California Policy Center, Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies, and America First Legal.

“Given the rise of political intolerance within academic institutions and censorship from the tech industry, we are alarmed by this partnership and its implications for core American values in our schools,” the coalition letter states. “There are endless examples of NewsGuard ratings that have no basis in reality and disprove the claim that its ratings are impartial…It seems that this partnership is another effort to politicize our schools, censor disapproved political thought and sources of information, and silence critics of teachers’ unions. Institutionalizing the censorship of news and information sources that may provide alternative views–or even facts that cannot be found elsewhere but that appear on an unapproved news source–is an attack on the values of our Constitution and on the basic liberal values that all western societies strive to uphold.”

Political contributions made by NewsGuard’s leadership and staff provide additional insights into why the AFT chose to partner with NewsGuard, and how their progressive political interests align. News reports also reveal that NewsGuard is staffed by individuals who have worked for Democrat campaigns and liberal issue advocacy organizations.

“Educators should teach students to think openly and critically, challenge ideas, make their own assessments, conduct independent research, check facts, and do their own due diligence, not outsource the very essence of what it means to learn, think, and judge,” the letter continued. “As champions for accountability in technology and education, we are calling on Congress to investigate this partnership, including its origins, its intentions, its applications, and the broader issue of biased and conflicted so-called ‘anti-misinformation’ tools used in classrooms.”