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News Busters
17 Feb 2024
Jeffrey Lord

NextImg:Rep. Jim Banks Warns Ad Agencies On NewsGuard Role In Military Recruitment

Over at Newsmax (where, full disclosure, I am a contributor) is this interesting headline: 

Rep. Banks Warns Ad Agencies: No More NewsGuard for Recruitment

The story reports:

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said woke Pentagon policies — including the use of left-wing media monitors — have been choking military recruitment and he wants them stopped.

Last week Banks sent letters to the CEOs of top advertising agencies warning them that using far-left ratings groups like NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index are a violation of federal law — and that he planned on holding hearings on the impact these groups have had on recruitment.

‘NewsGuard, as we already know, is a left-wing think tank and we know that they censor conservative outlets like your own,’ Banks said Wednesday on Newsmax's 'Newsline.'

Taking a look at one of the letters Banks has sent, (co-signed by Reps. Mike Waltz (FL), Elise Stefanik (NY) and Jack Bergman (MI) ) there is this one to the Austin-based GSD&M ad agency. It opens by saying this:

As you likely know, the United States military is facing the worst recruiting crisis in the 50 years of the all-volunteer force.

After detailing the specifics of that crisis, Banks goes on to say this, bold print for emphasis supplied:

As the primary advertising agency for the United States Air Force, your firm should face significant scrutiny regarding its role in the recruiting crisis. United States taxpayers have entrusted GSD&M with $741 million over 10 years to make the United States Air Force an attractive career choice for young Americans. The House Committee on Armed Services (HASC) has a significant interest in how you spent those resources and your agency’s failure to appeal to new recruits. 

The extent to which the DoD and its contractors have prioritized social justice and political correctness over national security, readiness and lethality will be a major focus of this investigation. 

Section 1555 of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (FY24 NDAA) requires that any entity placing advertisements on behalf of the Department of Defense certify that the entity does not place advertisements in news sources based on personal or institutional political preferences or biases, or determinations of misinformation. 

This provision responds to concerns that advertising blacklists are effectively created by groups like NewsGuard Technologies and the Global Disinformation Index by providing advertising firms with lists which rank or rate media by subjective and often political criteria which, in turn, artificially limit military recruitment advertisements’ reach. These organizations’ well-documented bias means that such blacklists exclude media outlets read or viewed by those most likely to be interested in military service. Also, it is important to note that Section 1555 prevents the Department of Defense recruitment from contracting with any advertising agency that utilizes such blacklisting services, not just for military recruitment purposes.

Banks and his colleagues then pose a series of questions focused on the idea that the use by ad agencies of the far-left NewsGuard Technologies and the Global Disinformation Index is itself discouraging recruitment. 

Banks begins by asking:

  • Does GSD&M use NewsGuard and, if so, when did it start using it? 
  • Were any of these ads placed with NewsGuard paid for by the Defense Department? And if so, will the ad agency stop doing this? 

The last two questions are these: 

  • “The United States taxpayer expects that military recruitment advertisements will be shown to the broadest possible audience of potential recruits. Do you agree that the use of NewsGuard, the Global Disinformation Index, or a similar company or service violates your fiduciary duty to the Department of Defense and the United States taxpayer? Why or why not?”
  • “Please provide the committee with the name of the media outlet and the total amount of the advertising buy for all ad placements in excess of $5,000.”

Banks and his colleagues close by saying this: 

Because hearings are likely on this matter, we are asking you to preserve all records, documents, communications your firm has had with NewsGuard, GDI or other groups who have engaged in censorship using ratings, content-based rankings, fact-checking services or act as ‘misinformation’ monitors.

Well now.

What we have here is typical of the way the federal bureaucracy works. Way below the visibility line, some lefty bureaucrat buried deep inside sends taxpayer funds to promote X lefty cause of the moment.

In this case the subject is the media and the real world effect of using a left-leaning media company - NewsGuard in this case- to promote lefty cause X. That cause here being putting some sort of brake on US military recruitment.

Recall back there in 2021, NewsBusters own Joseph Vazquez headlined this: 

STUDY: NewsGuard Ratings System Heavily Skews in Favor of Left-Wing Outlets

Joe reported this, bold print for emphasis supplied: 

A new analysis reveals the extraordinary left-wing bias of website ratings firm NewsGuard, which should concern every American given that it is expanding its reach into cable and broadcast TV news. Liberal outlets were rated 27 points higher on average than news organizations on the right. 

MRC Free Speech America analyzed the NewsGuard ratings of media outlets based on a list compiled by AllSides classified by their “bias” on a left-to-right scale. The average NewsGuard score for the “left” and “lean left” outlets — which included leftist outlets like Jacobin and The Nation — was 93/100. While the average rating for “right” and “lean right” outlets — which included Fox News, Washington Times and New York Post — was a low 66/100. That’s a 27 point disparity.

According to NewsGuard’s skewed ratings, left-leaning outlets have substantially more “credibility” on average than right-leaning outlets.

Bearing that in mind, the fact that this lefty outfit is charged by Congressman Banks with injecting “woke Pentagon policies — including the use of left-wing media monitors” into military recruitment drives? And that as a result this has “been choking military recruitment”? Hmmm.

This letter from Congressman Banks and his colleagues  is a serious look at just how, in the high-tech world that is the 21st century, left-leaning media can have a serious impact on, in this case, the very basic instrument of advertising for a strong, fully recruited, American military. With no one taking notice.

These four Members of Congress - again they would be Reps. Banks, Waltz, Bergman, and Stefanik - should be applauded for stepping up and taking action. The liberal media response that may be coming be damned.

Good for them.