We don’t often make pleas for donations on the Daily Sceptic, but I thought I’d ask readers to remember us this Christmas.
We’ve suffered a couple of financial setbacks this year.
First, there was PayPal’s decision to close our account in September. That was a blow because about a quarter of our recurring donations at that time were being made via PayPal. We emailed all those people, urging them to switch to a different payment processor, but, inevitably, some of them took the opportunity to cancel their recurring donations and we’d lost them by the time PayPal decided to reopen our account a few weeks later. Incidentally, we’ve decided not to accept any new donations via PayPal and all donations we now receive are routed through Stripe.
Second, an organisation called NewsGuard, which ranks websites according to how ‘safe’ they are for companies to advertise on (among other things), decided to downgrade the Daily Sceptic on the grounds that we frequently publish ‘misinformation’ about the Covid vaccines and climate change. I was sent a long email by an employee of the company, listing all the articles on the site that had been red-flagged by supposedly impartial ‘fact checking’ organisations – as well as NewsGuard’s own employees – and inviting me to mount a defence. Knowing how damaging a poor NewsGuard rating can be to a site’s ability to attract advertising – and this coincided with our decision to start selling ads on the site – I sent back a lengthy response in good faith, rebutting each of the fact-checks in turn, but saying I would link to them beneath the articles in question (as well as to our rebuttals). I duly spent a couple of days sticking ‘postscripts’ beneath the articles, as well as below some additional pieces NewsGuard hadn’t mentioned but which had also fallen foul of fact-checkers – and I let NewsGuard know about that, thinking it would be pleased. After all, I thought, it would be able to tell its big clients – which include Microsoft – how it had prompted a website that publishes ‘misinformation’ to include links to dozens of fact-checking websites.
Instead, NewsGuard wrote back to tell me it had downgraded the Daily Sceptic to 37.5 out of 100, about half the points it had before. The reason was because I hadn’t said beneath the articles that the content that had been identified by the fact-checkers as false was in fact false. My defence is that in every case the fact-checkers hadn’t red-flagged the articles in question because they contained factually inaccurate information; rather, they just disagreed with our interpretation of the data. But – as is common among fact-checkers, who are invariably Left-of-centre – they pretended none of this was up for debate and labelled our interpretation as ‘misinformation’. I explained all this to my NewsGuard correspondent, but it didn’t cut any ice, presumably because he shares the same ideological biases as the fact-checkers. Its website now includes the following note about the Daily Sceptic: “Proceed with caution: This website violates basic journalistic standards.”
The American Institute of Economic Research, which published the Great Barrington Declaration, has had its own difficulties with NewsGuard, which Phil Magness, Director of Research and Education at AIER, labels a “propaganda entity”. Magness’s piece on NewsGuard and how it operates is well worth your time.
We’ve suffered similar problems with various social media platforms in the past year, seeing the Daily Sceptic’s accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn suspended for days, weeks or months at a time because, according to ‘independent fact-checkers’, the articles we were promoting contained ‘misinformation’ or worse. Thankfully, this kind of thing no longer happens on Twitter, but it still happens on Facebook. Indeed, we received a notification from Facebook yesterday that my personal account had been suspended for 30 days because I’d published a “post that goes against our standards on misinformation about vaccines”.
But in spite of these attempts to suppress the Daily Sceptic, its audience just grows and grows. We now average two million page views a month, which is pretty high for a site run out of a garden shed in Acton and which has never spent a penny on marketing or advertising. I like to think that’s not because it violates basic journalistic standards, but because it upholds them – particularly that standard, now seemingly forgotten by the legacy media, that the claims of powerful politicians and multinational corporations to be acting in the public interest should be treated with scepticism. One of the main reasons the site gets such a lot of traffic is that we run stories that mainstream media companies like the New York Times and the BBC aren’t interested in – not because they’re false or misleading, but because they run counter to the conventional wisdom on subjects like public health and climate change. Something changed in the attitude of professional journalists in the last 25 years or so and they now see it as their responsibility to defend the conventional wisdom in these and other areas where dissent supposedly causes ‘harm’. I like to think that if a Deep Throat in the U.S. Government wanted to expose Presidential malfeasance today, he would reach out to the Daily Sceptic, not the Washington Post. These days, the words “Democracy dies in darkness” would sit more comfortably beneath our masthead than theirs.
On the plus side, we have launched the Weekly Sceptic podcast with Nick Dixon and, who knows, one day we may persuade more than one person to advertise on it.
So, if you value what we do, please think about making a donation this Christmas. We’re only able to continue producing such high-quality journalism because Will Jones, Ian Rons, Noah Carl, Chris Morrison and the rest of the team devote so much time to it and we can’t continue doing that without the generous support of our readers. Remember, you only have to donate £5 a month to be able to comment (or £50 to comment for a year).
A big thank you to all those people who have donated in 2022. It’s hugely appreciated.