Fake professor, feminist, and activist Melissa "Mish" Zimdars has deemed the Washington Free Beacon "fake news" on a list that is now being distributed as a media guide by Harvard University.
Zimdars, a Donald Trump critic and Carly Rae Jepsen fan, is an assistant professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, whose research focus includes "social justice." She has organized liberal protest rallies against student debt and refers to conservatives as the "DARK SIDE."
She created her fake news list, "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical ‘News' Sources," shortly after Hillary Clinton's defeat in the presidential election. The list, which Zimdars has already edited because news sites mistakenly appeared on it, features numerous conservative outlets.
Zimdars runs the "OpenSources.co" project, which continuously updates the database for online developers to "leverage in the fight against fake, false, conspiratorial, and misleading news."
"Our database is maintained by professionals who have analyzed each source, looking for overall inaccuracy, extreme biases, lack of transparency, and other kinds of misinformation," the website states.
Zimdars placed the "Extreme Bias" tag to label the Free Beacon "propaganda."
The "Extreme Bias" label is defined as: "Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts."
The guide is now being linked to as a "Huge list of fake news sites" by Harvard, Campus Reform reported Friday. The Free Beacon was one of "dozens of respectable conservative websites" identified as "‘unreliable' or simply ‘fake,'" while liberal websites such as Vox.com, Slate, Salon, and the Huffington Post were left off the list.
A note attached to the guide lists the New York Times, the Atlantic, and National Public Radio as sources Zimdars trusts.
Zimdars did not immediately return request for comment.
Zimdars's list was riddled with errors, as it was made in the rush to blame "fake news" for Donald Trump's election victory, according to Reason magazine.
"Zimdars's list is awful," the libertarian magazine wrote. "It includes not just fake or parody sites; it includes sites with heavily ideological slants like Breitbart, LewRockwell.com, Liberty Unyielding, and Red State. These are not ‘fake news' sites. They are blogs that—much like Reason—have a mix of opinion and news content designed to advance a particular point of view."
Zimdars subsequently had to remove websites from the original list—after it was widely shared by media outlets as a definitive resource for "fake news"—because she confirmed several sites "weren't so bad after all," the Boston Globe reported.
Harvard's "Fake News, Misinformation, and Propaganda" guide offers "five ways to spot and stop fake news," and links to Zimdars list as a resource for identifying "fake news."
The university warns: "Don't get taken in," and "Take a moment to think before you click—and share."
"If a story makes you very angry, dig deeper," Harvard says. "When in doubt, ask a librarian."
Aside from sharing Zimdars's list, Harvard links to several fact-checking sites, including Hoaxy, a project by Flippo Menczer, a computer science professor at Indiana University who also defamed the Free Beacon as an "alt-right" website.
Menczer is the professor behind "Truthy," a research project that received nearly $1 million from the federal government to create a database to detect "hate speech," "misinformation," and "suspicious memes" online.
His new project "Hoaxy" seeks to automatically extract tweets to be "fact-checked" and to track Twitter users who spread links to "fake news."
Like Menczer, who supports numerous liberal causes like Organizing for Action, Moveon.org, and Greenpeace, Zimdars is also a political activist.
Her teaching interests include "identity, bodies, health, and social justice," and she is currently working on an "anthology of essays" about "Fake News."
"One article and video at a time, I'm gradually bringing my Dad and brother back from the propagandistic, conservative/Republican DARK SIDE," Zimdars tweeted in 2015.
Zimdars refers to Donald Trump as "Drumpf," and said illegal immigrants "contribute more to this country" than Trump "ever has or ever will."
Zimdars also was "pretty pumped" when she moved to Massachusetts because left-wing Elizabeth Warren became her senator, and said it was "too-good-to-be-true" that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had attended a Bernie Sanders rally.
She linked to the liberal blog Wonkette to allege voter fraud against Barack Obama in 2012. "This is terrifying," Zimdars said about a person who claimed their machine switched a vote to Mitt Romney.
Wonkette, for its part, said the story was a result of "F—ing conspiracy theory loons."