- Overall, we rate Rational Ground right biased and Questionable based on a lack of transparency, poor sourcing, and false or misleading information regarding the coronavirus that does not align with the consensus of science.
Reasoning: Lack of Transparency, Poor Sourcing, False/Misleading Claims
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in 2020, Rational Ground is a website and newsletter that covers the impacts and response to the Coronavirus from a right-leaning skeptical perspective. According to their about page, they are “Providing a variety of resources on the current crisis regarding COVID-19.” They further state on their page titled A Rational Path Forward “The American public has shown a level of compliance with deeply disruptive public health measures that would have been unthinkable just 10 months ago. That compliance has been squandered on an unrealistic and unachievable goal of “stopping the spread.”
Rational Ground lacks transparency as they do not disclose ownership or editors. They do provide Twitter links to contributors.
Funded by / Ownership
Rational Ground lacks transparency as they do not clearly state ownership. However, the website was founded by Justin Hart, who is a Data Expert according to some outlets. It is not clear why he is an expert in data. Funding for the website is not disclosed, however, they do sell subscriptions to generate revenue.
Analysis / Bias
In review, the website provides news and analysis on the Coronavirus, lockdowns, mask use, and statistical outcomes related to the virus. Rational Ground features categories such as Resources, which provides links to “Mask Facts” and how to write letters to re-open schools. They also offer a 10 step approach on how to get things back to normal. This approach is based on The Great Barrington Declaration from the Libertarian Think Tank The American Institute for Economic Research. The Great Barrington Declaration has been criticized by scientists as being dangerous and controversial. Rational Ground’s 10 steps are as follows:
- Communicate the age-stratified fatality rates: In other words, emphasize that the disease is more deadly for the elderly.
- Re-think the testing strategy: Stop testing Asymptomatic Individuals.
- Stop quarantining healthy people
- Restore in-person schooling and normal activities for children
- Acknowledge that all work and institutions are essential
- Recognize naturally-acquired immunity
- Require that mandates be supported by evidence and balanced against their costs
- Report COVID-primary hospitalization data clearly and in the context of previous flu seasons
- Keep separate statistics for deaths “from” and “with” COVID
- Limit the emergency powers of government
The website also provides data and charts for subscribers and news through a newsletter. The information in the newsletter provides a short summary of covid-19 news followed by a link to another source. We found that they generally utilize credible sources such as NPR, Reuters, and the Associated Press as well as scientific journals. However, they also reference poor sources such as the Questionable Daily Mail, and Mixed factual such as the Mises Institute and The Guardian. For the most part, the newsletters link to credible 3rd party information.
Editorially, they provide commentary that aligns with the Libertarian Right and sometimes promotes misinformation such as this: After nine months, we still know masks don’t work. While it is true that Masks do not offer 100% protection, they are shown to decrease the spread of Covid-19 infections. Further, in an entirely unsourced op-ed titled The burden of proof, they argue that Lockdowns do not work. While some of the information in this op-ed may be true, there is not a single hyperlinked source where the reader can verify the significant amount of data presented. However, according to studies, there is strong evidence that Lockdowns do slow Covid-19 transmission. Again, Rational Ground bases their arguments around the Great Barrington Declaration, which has been criticized for containing falsehoods and being dangerous. In general, Rational Ground provides a mix of factual news stories and misleading or false right biased information.
Failed Fact Checks
- None to date. See above for indirect examples.
Overall, we rate Rational Ground right biased and Questionable based on a lack of transparency, poor sourcing, and false or misleading information regarding the coronavirus that does not align with the consensus of science. (D. Van Zandt 2/2/2021)