NewsGuard Amends Fox News’ Rating from ‘Green’ to ‘Red’
On July 21 2022, anti-disinformation activist Nandini Jammi tweeted that NewsGuard (a subscription-based browser extension for tracking misinformation and disinformation by source) had downranked Fox News from “trustworthy” to “proceed with caution”:
HOLY SHIT: @NewsGuardRating just downgraded @FoxNews' official rating from "Green — Trustworthy" to "Red — proceed with caution."
THIS IS HUGE. pic.twitter.com/9F3HguLf8k
— Nandini Jammi (@nandoodles) July 21, 2022
Jammi, who has long monitored links between extremist content and advertising revenue, described the NewsGuard rating change as “HUGE.” On July 21 2022, the UK-based journalism trade publication Press Gazette addressed NewsGuard’s update to its analysis of Fox News’ website, reporting that the updated rating was issued on July 18 2022:
Fox News‘ credibility score has been downgraded to “red” by media watchdog Newsguard, meaning it “fails to adhere to several basic journalistic standards”.
Fox has had an overall passing score since the ratings agency launched in 2018.
Newsguard publishes what it calls “Nutrition Labels” – reviews of news websites scored using nine criteria, each of which carries a number of points.
Meeting the company’s standard for disclosing ownership, for example, carries 7.5 points. Not “repeatedly publishing false content” carries 22. A site that passes all criteria gets a full score of 100 points, and anything below 60 constitutes a “red” overall failing score.
Fox News dropped 12.5 points on [July 18 2022] when its score was revised, and now has a total of 57.
We visited FoxNews.com on July 21 2022 with NewsGuard’s subscription-based service enabled. Clicking the NewsGuard icon (on the browser extension bar) displayed the following summary for Fox News:
Text at the top read:
The website of conservative Fox News Channel, the most-watched cable news network in the U.S., which has published numerous false and misleading claims, including about politics and COVID-19
Proceed with caution: This website fails to adhere to several basic journalistic standards.
Initially, six bullet points (a green checkmark or a red “x”) were visible. The first three were labeled “credibility,” the second three “transparency,” and they read:
√ Does not repeatedly publish false content
X Gathers and presents information responsibly
X Regularly corrects or clarifies errors
√ Website discloses ownership and financing
√ Clearly labels advertising
√ Reveals who’s in charge, including any conflicts of interest
At the bottom of the pop-up, text read “see the full nutrition label.” That link led to a lengthy, paywalled analysis of Fox News’ coverage and journalistic practices, where a section labeled “Credibility” read, in part:
NewsGuard explained that “FoxNews.com regularly mixes opinionated and news video clips without distinguishing between [news and opinion].” At the end of the entry, text read:
Editor’s Note: This Nutrition Label was updated on July 18, 2022, with an update of FoxNews.com’s newer content. Its rating has changed to reflect NewsGuard’s determination that FoxNews.com no longer meets NewsGuard’s standard for regularly correcting and clarifying errors. The criteria checklist was adjusted accordingly. This Nutrition Label was previously updated on Jan. 26, 2021, and Nov. 25, 2020.
On July 21, Nandini Jammi’s tweet about NewsGuard “downranking” Fox News’ website from a “trustworthy” green to a “proceed with caution” red drew attention to the subscription-based service’s then-recent change to its “Nutrition Label” for FoxNews.com. Information behind NewsGuard’s paywall explained that the service had updated its rating for the news site on July 18 2022, in part due to the network’s handling of how it regularly corrects and clarifies errors.
Update, December 22 2022 12:12 PM: On November 29 2022, NewsGuard quietly raised the website score of both FoxNews.com and FoxNewsInsider.com to 69.5:
An updated addendum indicated FoxNews.com met NewsGuard’s standard for distinguishing news content from editorial content:
Editor’s Note: This Nutrition Label was updated on Nov. 29, 2022, to reflect that the site now meets the standard for handling the difference between news and opinion responsibly. The criteria checklist was adjusted accordingly.