In a recent press release, the American Federation of Teachers announced that it has launched a national partnership with NewsGuard, which the union informs us is a “leading anti-misinformation tool” which protects and champions legitimate journalism and fact-based reporting and “will help educators and their students navigate a sea of online disinformation.” AFT president Randi Weingarten claims that the deal will be a game-changer for the union’s 1.7 million teachers and the tens of millions of children and their families who are currently “drowning in an ocean of online dishonesty.” She adds quite melodramatically, “It is a beacon of clarity to expose the dark depths of the internet and uplift those outlets committed to truth and honesty rather than falsehoods and fabrications.”
But one look at NewsGuard’s lists outs them as leftist advocates, and nothing close to objective. Nine out of the 10 websites on NewsGuard’s “Ten Most Influential Misinformers” list for 2021 lean right, with NewsMax, TheGatewayPundit.com and The Federalist deemed the worst of the worst. On the other hand, “The Ten Top Trustworthy and Trending Sites” are all center- to far-left with NBCNews.com, The New York Times and The Washington Post ranked highest.
The bias of their “anti-disinformation tool” is glaring. A recent study by the Media Research Center (MRC), a conservative media watchdog, reveals that NewsGuard has an “extraordinary” political bias that makes left-wing news outlets more likely to get a better rating. The study found that outlets rated “left” or “lean left” received an average NewsGuard score of 93, while sites considered “right” or “lean right” had an average rating of just 66. The MRC reports that Jacobin, a socialist magazine which calls itself the “leading voice of the American left” and champions such notions as the nationalization of supermarkets, receives a score of 92.5 by NewsGuard. The Nation, also a far-left magazine which has defended the looting and vandalism committed during the widespread riots in the summer of 2020, also has a 92.5 NewsGuard score.
And then there is The New York Times, the #2 rated “Trustworthy and Trending” site. In reality, the Grey Lady may be, historically speaking, the worst, most deceitful newspaper in the country. Most notably The Times and its writer, Walter Duranty, colluded to knowingly overlook the Stalin-led starvation of Ukraine in 1931. The newspaper also went all in for the great Duke University lacrosse team hoax of 2006, which centered around an alleged rape that never happened. And in 2021, the newspaper referred to the blatantly satirical Babylon Bee as a “far-right misinformation site.”
Which brings us back to Randi Weingarten. In December of 2021, New York Times writer Michelle Goldberg wrote a glowing piece, initially titled, “Can This Woman Save American Public Education?” The bizarre reference to the union boss was a bridge too far even for The Times, which, after an explosion on social media, quickly renamed the piece “We Desperately Need Schools to Get Back to Normal.” The slobbering content was not changed a whit, however. Among other blatant falsehoods, Weingarten was praised as the woman who has desperately tried to keep schools open during the era of Covid.
Goldberg missed an opportunity to ask Weingarten so many questions. If I had written the column, it may have come out, oh…just a bit differently. Here is a brief sampling of the questions I would have asked the union boss:
- Despite insisting that your union has been trying to keep schools open during the time of Covid, multiple studies have shown that the teachers unions have been the biggest obstacle to school reopenings across the country. As Mike Antonucci reports, in every major school district in the country – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, etc. – your union’s local affiliates threw up roadblocks to getting schools up and running. What evidence can you supply that you have really been trying to keep schools open?
- At an AFT conference in July 2021, you stated, “Let’s be clear: critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools.” Yet, one month before your union tweeted that “critical race theory allows educators to give our students the opportunity to understand the full breadth and depth of the American society.” And if you really believed that there is no CRT in k-12, why would you have Ibram X. Kendi, probably the most vocal and aggressive CRT proponent in the country, speak at the conference?
- Also, in July 2021, you hysterically tweeted, “Millions of Floridians are going to die for Ron DeSantis’ ignorance and he’s choosing to profit from it.” To your credit, you walked back that insane comment shortly thereafter, but added, “Fauci is an amazing public servant.” That’s the equivalent of removing the left foot from your mouth, and then inserting the right one in its stead. What about Fauci leads you to your glowing words?
- When I saw you outside the Supreme Court after the Janus oral arguments in February 2018, you went on a brief rant to a newsman in which you asserted that unions “actually make communities safer and…the right-wing is threatened by that.” Do you honestly believe that statement?
- In November, you tweeted, “First & foremost, we must listen to parents. They are our partners.” Actually, the unions’ positions on CRT and the shutdowns have awakened parents to the evil that the unions have perpetrated. You have made them your enemy, Randi, not your partner. In fact, when you did a live C-SPAN event, a West Virginia granddad called in and said, “It is pathetic how the teachers union and the government has failed our children. I don’t see how you can sit up there and defend that.” Your response was bizarre. You talked about how unions help teachers get higher salaries, and then uttered something incoherent about coal miners. Could you please provide a thoughtful answer to the man’s question? Also, what were you thinking when you retweeted Virginia’s former secretary of education’s post calling parents advocating for their children “racists?”
All in all, Randi Weingarten has collected enough Pinocchios over the past two years to start her own puppet shop.
On a similar note, parents are rapidly awakening to the problems in our government-run k-12 schools, and there is now a push for curriculum transparency. On January 26, it was revealed that “lawmakers in at least 12 states have introduced legislation to require schools to post lists of all of their teaching materials online, including books, articles and videos.”
Seems reasonable, right? Well, not to the teachers unions, which are fighting curriculum transparency all over the country. Late last year, a mother was sued by the Rhode Island state affiliate of the National Education Association after she made a public records request to find out exactly what her daughter was being taught. In Indiana, the teachers union is currently battling against two bills that would require teachers to post school curricula online, which would then be vetted by parent review committees. In Utah, the teachers union is trying to fend off a bill that would require educators to disclose what they are teaching. Heidi Mathews, president of the Utah Education Association, quaintly asserted, “We need to stop it in its tracks, not let it enter into the legislative process, and just kick it in the tush.”
So we have a teachers union bringing an “internet librarian” with a left-wing bias into the lives of millions of school children, but the same crowd doesn’t want to let parents know what teachers are actually teaching. There is a screaming contradiction here. But then again, such positions are all too typical for the teachers unions. Indeed, it is they who need a good tush-kicking.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.