NBC News is facing intense backlash for apparently influencing Google to punish two conservative news sites over what was deemed offensive coverage of the George Floyd protests.
In a report published Tuesday afternoon, NBC News claimed Google “banned” The Federalist and ZeroHedge from Google Ads for “pushing unsubstantiated claims” about the Black Lives Matter movement. Google later pushed back, claiming that The Federalist “was never demonetized,” and adding, “We worked with them to address issues on their site related to the comments section.”
“We have strict publisher policies that govern the content ads can run on and explicitly prohibit derogatory content that promotes hatred, intolerance, violence or discrimination based on race from monetizing,” a Google spokesperson initially told NBC News. NBC, however, did not link to the “derogatory content” from The Federalist or ZeroHedge.
In addition, it appeared it was NBC News’ inquiry into the matter that prompted Google’s actions in the first place.
More at National Review, which notes that “The decision by Google comes after NBC News referred the company to complaints against The Federalist and the website ZeroHedge compiled by the U.K.-based Center for Countering Digital Hate:”
The CCDH describes itself as “a not-for-profit NGO headquartered in London, England that seeks to disrupt the architecture of online hate and misinformation” that aims to counter “fringe movements that instrumentalise hate and misinformation.” A reporter from NBC’s “Verification Center” congratulated the CCDH and its subsidiary project “Stop Funding Fake News” on the action.
As Joe Gabriel Simonson of the Washington Examiner tweets, “I assume this logo with a flag historically connected to communism is a coincidence.”
NBC’s Adele-Momoko Fraser thanked CCDH and “Stop Funding Fake News” in a since-deleted tweet:
National Review’s David Harsanyi, who was a senior editor at the Federalist from 2013-2019, asks, “Would Google really demonetize sites over their comment sections? Has such a standard ever been used for a political website?”
Whatever the case, it’s clear now that NBC News was trying to have The Federalist demonetized. Unequipped to offer a compelling case on her own, Adele-Momoko Fraser appealed to authority by pointing to the alleged expertise of a previously unknown British group calling itself the “Center for Countering Digital Hate.” A quick scan of the site will illustrate that the group relies on unsubstantiated Internet trolling as a basis for its “reports.” It looks as if the site is manned by one person, named Imran Ahmed, who seems to believe that Microsoft and Ford are also part of the white-supremacist conspiracy. It’s embarrassing that NBC News would rely on information given by such a transparently ideological and amateurish organization to censor anyone.
Where are all the other journalists banding together to defend the ideals of free expression and the First Amendment? So far, nowhere. The Left’s illiberal impulse to quash opinions it dislikes is getting increasingly brazen — and dangerous. And it won’t stop here.
Indeed. Although today’s debacle by the “NBC News Verification Unit” is yet another reminder of the solid reportage of the 94 year old network (including its origin as one of the first national radio networks) in its dotage:
UPDATE (FROM GLENN): So two big media companies basically collude to deprive two competitors of access to the advertising market. How, exactly, is this not a “conspiracy in restraint of trade?”
UPDATE (From Ed): “Google now denies it pulled ads from the Federalist in the first place. The objectionable content on the Federalist was, allegedly, in the comments section. As reporters like Vox’s Jane Coaston have pointed out, comments sections are generally protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. In fairness, this protects them from government takedowns, not Google bans…but if Google has an issue with the content in comments sections, it may want to turn a keen eye to the stuff that gets posted in response to YouTube videos by the second.”
JOSH HAWLEY MAKES AN INTERESTING POINT: