A lawyer friend of mine works as a criminal defender. Before that, he was at the District Attorney’s office fighting to put people in jail. One day I asked him how he could completely switch sides from pursuing people accused of committing a crime to proving that same person’s innocence? He replied, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” In other words, money is a prime motivator for what side of the fence he leans on when analyzing and cherry-picking the facts.
Most social media platforms, magazines, newspapers, and news channels use third party “fact-checkers.” Their job is to protect people from untrustworthy fake news. After a political debate, fact-checkers are hired to go through everything that was stated to help us decipher which candidate was telling the truth and which one was lying. The only problem is, depending on which news channel you watch, statements considered to be false by a liberal network are often deemed as true statements by the conservative media. So, who exactly are the “fact-checkers” and do they really have our best interests at heart? To answer that question, we have to figure out who’s paying these fact-checking pipers for their tune. Do these referees really have our backs or does their police work come at a price?
When “social distancing” was recommended by the government, this quickly turned into a “stay at home” campaign. Millions of people took refuge indoors. My neighbor boarded up his windows and barricaded his entire family inside as if he was bracing for a category 4 hurricane. Many people have wrongfully believed they could catch the coronavirus by being outside when in fact, sunshine and fresh air have been shown to kill viruses since the 1918 Spanish Flu. In fact, sunshine and fresh air have been used to successfully treat patients during the last three viral pandemics. Each outbreak was caused by a novel type A influenza virus. Records from these “open-air” hospitals show sunshine and fresh air spared many from dying from the outbreak.
I decided to write a science-backed blog post on the topic, which covered how viruses (including the coronavirus) don’t survive well in sunshine and fresh air. My goal was to share social distancing should not become sunshine distancing. My blog post went viral on social media and after it was read by 1.2 million people, it got the attention of USA TODAY, who is now in the fact-checking business. They decided to put my article through a rigorous fact-checking process. They hired Molly Stellino, an independent fact-checker, to debunk me and share with the world how wrong I was to recommend sunshine and fresh air as the first line of defense against the coronavirus. After her analysis, Ms. Stellino ruled my recommendation to be FALSE information! When I read her critique, I noticed something important she had neglected to share in her fact-checking article… the facts! Only one of the 17 references I shared was addressed and that was completely taken out of context. Also, journalism 101 teaches, when you write an article presenting someone in a negative light, you must give them the opportunity to respond and provide their side of the story. I was never contacted by Molly so I wrote a rebuttal to her USA TODAY “fact-checking” article.
[click here to read my rebuttal]
In her article, Ms. Stellino also called a video posted by U.S congressman, Greg Murphy, M.D false information. During this public service video, Dr. Murphy debunked several common COVID-19 myths including gargling with hot water and vinegar kills the coronavirus, the flu vaccine protects you, snorting saline solution up your nose kills the virus, etc. The one thing on Dr. Murphy’s list that he said does actually work in combating the spread of COVID-19 is sunshine! USA TODAY’s fact-checker failed to mention that Dr. Murphy was debunking COVID-19 myths, not creating them. That omission helped Molly give the readers the impression that Dr. Murphy is a snake oil salesman when in fact, he serves on the Executive Board of the Judicial and Ethics Committee for the American Urological Association and has traveled 35 years treating patients in third world countries. Does USA TODAY condone selective fact-checking?
Ms. Stellino, a student at Arizona State University, has debunked other claims for USA TODAY. She was also hired to fact-check: “The coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory.”
Molly’s ruling after fact-checking that statement for USA TODAY:
“FALSE based on our research. Overwhelming scientific evidence suggests the coronavirus originated in nature, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.”
While USA TODAY’s fact-checker adamantly stated the coronavirus did not originate from a Chinese laboratory, that’s not the consensus of many leading media outlets including:
WALL STREET JOURNAL: The U.S Secretary of State says there is a “significant amount of evidence” the coronavirus came from Wuhan lab.
ABC NEWS: Trump administration pulls NIH grant for coronavirus research over ties to Wuhan lab at the heart of conspiracy theories.
NEW YORK POST: State-owned China Daily published startling photos that showed a broken seal on a freezer at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where 1,500 strains of deadly pathogens — including the novel coronavirus — were stored.
FOX NEWS: Government sources with access to highly classified intelligence reveals evidence showing the COVID-19 outbreak originated in a Wuhan laboratory as part of China's attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States.
CNN: Proof that the coronavirus came from a Chinese lab may trigger a stock market crash. The U.S intelligence community began investigating the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s role in the pandemic, citing increasing confidence that the lab may be the source of the pandemic due to a record of safety lapses at the facility. Chinese labs are known for their poor safety records.
BBC: Diplomats were concerned about the Chinese lab's research on bat coronaviruses could risk a new Sars-like pandemic.
WASHINGTON POST: Warnings were issued about the safety and management weaknesses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab. The first cable, also warns that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.
If USA TODAY’s fact-checker is given the authority to label facts as being false while leading news sources tell us it’s accurate, who are we supposed to believe?
For 25 years people have relied on snopes.com, the internet's original and preeminent resource for verifying and debunking rumors, urban legends, and ridiculous claims. However, snopes, which has struggled with accuracy in the past, has been accused of “heavily shading the truth.” Snopes was founded by a husband and wife team, David and Barbara Mikkelson, who had no formal background or experience in investigative research. In 2016, Facebook entered into an agreement with Snopes to integrate their fact-checking services but in 2018 this contract was not renewed. The Mikkelson’s ended up getting divorced and a nasty legal battle ensued with the new co-owners. This has left the future of Snopes in question. David Mikkelson is now locked in a litigation battle with numerous accusations including breach of contract, abuse of control, unlawful conspiracy, and misuse of funds.
There is a new “fact-checking” organization trying to take over Snope’s 25-year reign. They are called NewsGuard. For $35.50 a year, they will sell you an “Internet Trust Tool,” that you can download on your browser. After this is installed, users will get a pop-up warning when they visit a website that NewsGuard deems to be fake news and untrustworthy. Microsoft has recently partnered with NewsGuard as part of its iOS and Android phones. So far, they've "guarded" people from over 4,000 websites.
They are like a remora fish (aka “shark sucker”) which adheres to the bottom of a shark, consuming the leftovers after it devours its prey. NewsGuard swims under the fins of USA TODAY, which they consider one of their definitive “real news” sources. Anything that USA TODAY’s fact-checkers find to be false also gets placed on NewsGuard’s list of websites that people should avoid. I came to NewsGuard’s attention after USA TODAY reviewed my blog post on the anti-viral properties of sunshine and fresh air. DoctorDavidFriedman.com now has the honor of being listed on NewsGuard’s Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center. I am on this list of untrustworthy websites because NewsGuard adamantly believes, “There is no evidence proving that sunlight kills the COVID-19 virus.”
But perhaps it’s NewsGuard we should deem untrustworthy? They claim their mission is to help save people from COVID-19 misinformation, yet by spreading this message and recommending people stay indoors away from sunshine, NewsGuard’s advice may actually be causing more people to get sick.
Maybe NewsGuard should hire a better fact-checker to review the facts because research from the United States Department of Homeland Security shows sunlight and humidity kills the coronavirus quickly! At a White House press briefing, William N. Bryan, the acting secretary for science and technology at the Homeland Security Department, detailed recent lab studies carried out by the U.S. Army’s high biosecurity laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md. Their clinical research showed after only 1.5 minutes of sunlight exposure, the coronavirus is 50% destroyed! When the virus is not exposed to sunlight, it takes an hour.
Bryan summarized, “Within the conditions we’ve tested to date, the virus in droplets of saliva survives best when indoors and dry conditions. The virus dies quickest in the presence of direct sunlight.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touts his 'data-driven' approach of telling residents to get fresh air and sunshine as what helped flatten the COVID-19 curve, turning the projected 464,000 needing to be hospitalized to only 2,200.
[Source: Homeland Security]
I checked to see if NewsGuard listed the United States Department of Homeland Security website as “untrustworthy false information” like they did to my website after I shared my article on how sunshine kills the coronavirus. Nope, they didn’t dare go after this federal organization with 240,000 employees strong! Instead, they choose to go after underdog websites, like mine, owned and operated by 1 person. The easier the target, the higher the total number of websites NewsGuard can add to their list of rated websites, which makes them more appealing to future customers.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases published extensive research entitled "Simulated Sunlight Rapidly Inactivates SARS-CoV-2 on Surfaces." Researchers found, "Evidence that sunlight may rapidly inactivate SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces, suggesting that surface persistence, and subsequently exposure risk, may vary significantly between indoor and outdoor environments."
Who exactly owns NewsGuard, the company working so hard to hide the viral killing properties of sunshine? That honor goes to Steven Brill, a far-left self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner of websites that he deems to be “fake news.” It’s co-owned by Louis Gordon Crovitz, who quite ironically has a history of publishing misinformation into his Wall Street Journal columns and getting his facts wrong.
John Gregory, the Senior Analyst and Deputy Editor for NewsGuard, reached out to me for comment before labeling my website as being “fake news.” I asked him why is a company named “NEWS” Guard spending its time, money, and resources going after independent BLOG posts instead of focusing on actual NEWS sites? He didn’t email me a response but did forward a few questions of his own.
John Gregory asked, “What’s to distinguish your opinion from news?”
“Easily. It clearly states at the top, this is a BLOG POST. People read blogs to get the author’s opinion. That’s what a blog is for. I do not run a national internet health magazine, news outlet, or peer-reviewed journal. My website is not part of any news organization nor do I have a single employee running my website. It’s just me writing independent BLOG posts.
According to Merriam Webster, the definition of a BLOG is as follows:
A website that contains online personal opinions, reflections, and comments provided by the writer.
According to Lexico, a blog is written in an informal or conversational style.
NewsGuard spending their time attacking an individual’s BLOG post is unjustifiable. While the definition of a blog post is “personal reflections and comments written in an informal style,” I happen to back up my opinions with a plethora of third-party scientific references. If NewsGuard is in the personal BLOG censoring business, why not change the name of the company to BlogGuard? What’s next, will NewsGuard be censoring and fact-checking people’s personal Facebook Live transmissions?”
These self-proclaimed fact-checkers being given the authority to censor an individual’s blog post isn’t far removed from a modern-day Nazi book burning.
John Gregory asked, “Why are your articles not labeled as paid advertisements if they're promoting products?”
“Because DoctorDavidFriedman.com is not monetized. I have no paid advertisements being promoted on any of my blog posts. I don’t get a percentage of anyone’s purchases through any affiliate link, nor do I accept money from organizations, businesses, or products in exchange for promoting anything on my blog posts. I only recommend products that I personally take and can vouge for. Regarding the blog post in question, where I have recommended sunshine and fresh air; I want to say for the record, I do not own stock in either.”
The reason John Gregory asked me this question is because part of NewsGuard’s website rating system includes whether or not a website offers full discloser of its advertisers and any organizations that are funding them. Ironically, they fail to divulge who exactly is funding their website. Newsguard’s United States Securities and Exchange Commission Form D —— states that the company “declined to disclose” information regarding their revenue. This made me curious as to whether NewsGuard is really the nonbiased fact-checking organization they claim to be, or if perhaps they have some hidden agenda? To figure that out, I had to follow the money and explore who is funding NewsGuard and see if I could dig up any ulterior motives behind who’s paying the piper.
NewsGuard received $6 million dollars from several funders which include:
Publicis Groupe, a giant global communications organization that made a name for itself by promoting cigarette smoking. In fact, they helped create the Marlboro man ad campaigns that made Marlboro the best-selling cigarette in the world and led to the nicotine addiction of millions, many of whom died from smoking. Publicis also has a health subsidiary that includes major Big Pharma clients like Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen, Lilly, Abbot, Roche, Genentech, Celgene, Gilead, Biogen, Sanofi, and Bayer.
In October 2018, GlaxoSmithKline gave its $1.5 billion media account to Publicis. GlaxoSmithKline is also fully focused on developing a COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, former key pharmaceutical executive of GlaxoSmithKline has been appointed as the lead of “Operation Warp Speed,” the governments push to have a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year. The obvious question here is, does this communication group that makes billions of dollars from Big Pharma, have ulterior motives for paying NewsGuard to censor websites that are recommending natural alternatives that compete with the drugs they help to promote?
Thomas Glocer, a board member of Merck & Co., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Merck & Co. is also actively working to create a vaccine against COVID-19. Do you think this drug company wants the public knowing about the coronavirus killing properties of sunshine? Anything natural (and harmless) that may help people fight off the coronavirus will not be tolerated by Big Pharma. In fact, medical clinics are being raided for giving vitamin C to their COVID-19 patients! Who gave the orders for such aggressive tactics? The United States Department of Health and Human Services, which just so happens to get billions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry, including Merck & Co.! Perhaps just maybe this money could be clouding the judgment of regulators supposedly protecting citizens from harmless things like vitamin C and sunshine?
The Blue Haven Initiative, the venture capital “impact investment” fund of the wealthy Pritzker family, is the second largest financial contributor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The Blue Haven Initiative recently headed up an overseas venture to supply pharmaceuticals and provide working capital money to pharmacies overseas. With $94 million committed to date, Blue Haven is joined by GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer on a mission to “help advance interventions to fight malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other diseases around the world.”
John McCarter, former Senior Vice President of Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc., an American management and information technology consulting firm. McCarter has regularly consulted with several leading pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer. Booz Allen & Hamilton have come under scrutiny for its ties to the government of Saudi Arabia and the millions of dollars it provides to the Saudi armed forces. Their parent company, The Carlyle Group paid significant political contributions to Barack Obama, which resulted in a “you scratch our back, we'll scratch yours” steady stream of government contracts.
NewsGuard claims on its website that they have no political biases or agenda, yet when you pull back the curtain and look at who is funding their efforts, that statement is easily fact-checked and given a big thumbs down!
John Gregory, the hitman hired to debunk my sunshine article, went a step further and spent hours and hours reading EVERY blog post I’ve ever written over the past 8 years, trying to discover any possible sentence he could devour during his remora shark-sucking chum fest.
In his follow-up email he accused me of “gathering and presenting information irresponsibly” in a blog post I wrote in 2017 sharing my top ten tips on avoiding GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms.) GMO is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. This is used in agriculture to help plants become resistant to pests, diseases, and environmental conditions. Mr. Gregory labeled my article as “false information” sighting several organizations that have publicly stated GMOs are harmless and pose no health risks. He’s right, there are some very large and powerful organizations that advocate the safety of GMOs. Of course, first and foremost is Monsanto (recently purchased by Bayer,) the largest supplier of Genetically Engineered seeds. But since they have a vested interest in saying GMOs are safe, we have to rely on government watchdog organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) The EPA claims Genetic Engineering is safe. Case closed?
Not exactly. Dr. Ramon Seidler, a former senior scientist from the EPA has gone on record stating, “ Biotech [Monsanto] restricts studies on GMO by having professors sign an agreement prior to the research being completed which forces them to send all results to the biotech companies before being published – ostensibly – to be vetted and discounted should it paint their GM seed in any negative light.” Monsanto’s deep financial ties to the EPA is no secret. In fact, under the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, pesticide manufacturers are required to pay registration fees, and those fees amount to about a third of the EPA’s office operating budget. Do you see a conflict of interest here?
The EPA has been in bed with Monsanto for a long time. When Monsanto’s chemical glyphosate (used in their herbicide Roundup) came under fire for causing cancer, the EPA went to bat for Monsanto. In December 2017, the EPA issued a Draft Human Risk Assessment for Glyphosate, which concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic in humans. In April 2019, the EPA released a Glyphosate Proposed Interim Registration Review Decision for public comments. The EPA confirmed its conclusion that there are no risks to public health when using the glyphosate product Roundup. The EPA relied on studies paid for and conducted by Monsanto, while completely ignoring all the other research showing the cancer connection. During the Roundup Cancer Trial, it was discovered through internal emails between Monsanto and the EPA, that there was collusion with company executives to try to stop the release of the cancer assessment by the Agency for Toxic Chemicals and Disease Registry. In spite of the EPA’s efforts to shield Monsanto from liability they still to this day publicly state Monsanto’s Roundup “is not a public health risk.” A California jury disagreed and awarded a $2 Billion dollar verdict against Monsanto for selling a glyphosate-based herbicide that causes cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also claims GMO foods are safe. The FDA has gone on record stating it is “confident that the Genetically Engineered foods in the U.S. marketplace today are as safe as their conventional counterparts.” However, the FDA does not itself test whether genetically engineered foods are safe. According to FDA spokesperson Theresa Eisenman, “It is the manufacturer's responsibility to ensure that the food products it offers for sale are safe and otherwise comply with applicable requirements.” That means the FDA relies on Monsanto (now Bayer) to police themselves. Considering the many Monsanto government ties which have lined the pockets of many officials working at the FDA, do you think just maybe there could be an ulterior motive behind the FDA’s “look the other way” behavior when it comes to Monsanto and their Genetically Modified seeds? If there’s one website that belongs on NewsGuard’s list of “untrustworthy” websites it’s Monsanto.com, now owned by Bayer.com. Come on Mr. Gregory, put on your big boy pants and go after them. I double dare you!
Also, since it’s NewsGuard’s stance that GMOs are perfectly safe, instead of spending time berating the opinions expressed about GMO’s on an independent blog post, why don’t they try and go after NonGMOProject.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a non-GMO food supply? They are the provider of the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal which is placed on products sold at 14,349 retail stores nationwide. NewsGuard practices selective fact-checking.
NewsGuard also uses the American Medical Association (AMA) in its biased fact-checking of natural health websites. Is that really fair? Medical doctors aren’t authorities (nor are they taught courses) in natural medicine, vitamins, chiropractic, acupuncture, herbology, etc.
That said, considering the AMA’s stance on dietary supplements is that we should avoid taking vitamin pills, does NewsGuard consider any website promoting the benefits of vitamins to be untrustworthy because it goes against AMA guidelines? If so, why haven’t they attacked GNC.com? GNC is the largest nutritional supplement store in the world with more than 4,800 retail locations in the U.S and franchise operations in 46 international markets. What if someone writes an article and quotes the National Institute of Health’s recommendations that people should take vitamin supplements? Will NewsGuard’s fact-checker consider that false since it clearly opposes the AMA’s stance, which they place on a higher pedestal for credibility?
Luckily, my website is not monetized so NewsGuard’s severely flawed “fake and untrustworthy news” warning label won’t harm me or my livelihood. However, there are many businesses that do rely on subscribers, sponsors, or product sales to survive and a NewsGuard attack could cause devastating harm! Unfortunately, soon more people will have access to NewsGuard. They are moving away from a monthly fee and, through their deep connections to Big Pharma, government and Silicon Valley — they are lobbying to have its rankings of news sites installed by default on all computers in U.S. public libraries, schools, and universities as well as on all smartphones and computers sold in the United States.
SOCIAL MEDIA TURNED SOCIAL SILENCING
In the early days of social media, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube embraced all viewpoints and defended freedom of speech by giving everyone a global megaphone to speak directly to the world. This allowed people to share uncensored viewpoints, ideas, and criticisms. These same social media organizations now have fact-checkers that are censoring and deleting posts that go against company policy. Who exactly decides on these policies?
Social media companies are removing posts and mainstream news stories featuring doctors, scientists, and other health care providers that share research or opinions on health-related issues that don’t line up with Big Pharma. Even the number one social media video platform in the world is taking the "YOU" out of YouTube. In an interview on CNN, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube stated, “Our policy is to remove anything that goes against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations.” WHO exactly is paying WHO for their recommendations? For that answer, just follow the money. The WHO gets hundreds of millions of dollars from…... (wait for it)….
the pharmaceutical industry!
Maybe they should change their name from YOUtube to WHOtube! But if it’s the WHO that dictates what videos are allowed on YouTube's platform during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, that really makes things confusing. Back in January, the WHO publicly stated, “There is no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” According to YouTube’s policy, they should have deleted any video promoting social distancing since the WHO stated people being close to each other isn’t contagious. Then on April 6, the WHO stated, “Healthy people don't need to wear face masks to prevent coronavirus spread.” By YouTube’s guidelines, that means they should have deleted the tens of thousands of videos with people wearing facemasks and all those sharing homemade tips on how to make facemasks. That is clearly considered spreading "false information" based on what the WHO was stating. That didn’t happen. It brings the question, what exactly is the rationale behind YouTube’s selective censoring and deleting?
Being able to share opposing views when it comes to politics is legally allowed on social media. A district court in New York found even President Trump isn’t allowed to block people opposing his views on social media because it’s a violation of the First Amendment. The case was appealed, and two federal courts ruled that viewpoint discrimination on government social media pages is illegal. Okay, then why isn’t this same anti-discrimination, First Amendment rights a factor when it comes to scientists, doctors, renowned authors, and other experts sharing health information, comments, or criticisms? The rationale behind whether a video or social media post is allowed to remain is based on ONE THING: Does this information being shared on social media in any way take money out of Big Pharma’s pockets? Period!
THE ONLY TRUSTWORTHY FACT-CHECKER
Alright, who can we trust when it comes to the facts? We used to be able to turn to the NEWS as an impartial resource. But that was back when NEWS stood for North East West South—offering all angles, instead of today’s media which has become biased and prejudicial. Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, nobody knew whether Walter Kronkite, David Brinkley, and Dan Rather were republicans or democrats nor did we know their personal opinions on gun rights, capital punishment, or abortion. They had to remain impartial and report the news! Today, most members of the media and the networks they work for have agendas that cloud their reporting.
Unfortunately, we can’t even trust the fact-checking referees that are supposedly policing the media. But the good news is, there’s still one fact-checker that has a proven track record that you can trust to steer you in the right direction. Your gut! As I share in my International award-winning, #1 bestselling book Food Sanity, How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction, with all the ever-changing science (good for us one day and bad for us the next,) sometimes you have to rely on what your gut is telling you when trying to decipher what is and isn’t true. Research shows, the gut and brain are closely connected, and this interaction plays an important part in our intuitive decision making (hence the term “trust your gut.”) Our instincts can often be much more reliable when seeking the truth than relying on the media or their fact-checking puppets.
Do your own due diligence. Follow the money and you'll discover who exactly is paying the piper and you can figure out if what you hear, read or see is BUYased (spelling emphasized.) For example, should you trust a fact-checking organization paid by Big Pharm that goes after competing websites that promote safer and natural alternatives to the medicine they produce? Trust your gut and become your own fact-checker by exploring the other side of the coin (pun intended) and you’ll have a much more objective and reliable grasp on the facts.
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About the Author
Dr. David Friedman is the author of the award-winning, #1 national best-selling book Food Sanity, How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction. He's a Doctor of Naturopathy, Chiropractic Neurologist, Clinical Nutritionist, Board Certified Alternative Medical Practitioner, and Board Certified in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Friedman is a syndicated television health expert and host of To Your Good Health Radio, which has changed the face of talk radio by incorporating entertainment, shock value, and solutions to everyday health and wellness issues.Read more here