Google had to correct NBC News for an embarrassing mistake seemingly made by reporters eager to target conservative opinion sites.
In one sentence Google Communications debunked NBC’s claim that the Federalist had been demonetized over an article on the George Floyd protests.
The Federalist was never demonetized.
— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) June 16, 2020
While Google will never hide NBC News from its search results for spreading misinformation, its comms team’s correction is a stinging rebuke and embarrassing development. (Washington Free Beacon)
The Federalist was not banned from generating revenue served by Google ads but rather was warned it would be, publisher Ben Domenech told the Washington Free Beacon. The warning concerned the site’s comments section, not any particular article, as NBC News originally reported. The Federalist eliminated its comments section on Tuesday “for the moment,” Domenech said. Google already demonetized Zero Hedge, another right-wing site, for violations in its comments section.
The NBC News story initially suggested that the Federalist and Zero Hedge were demonetized because of articles they published. Its lead sentence read, “Google has banned two far-right websites from its advertising platform after research revealed the tech giant was profiting from articles pushing unsubstantiated claims about the Black Lives Matter protests.” The story was also erroneously headlined, “Google bans two websites from its ad platform over protest articles.”
NBC News attempted to rectify its mistake, but its halfhearted efforts were met with scorn by the Daily Caller:
NBC News then updated the article with a contradictory statement. An on-the-record quote from a Google spokesperson saying “we’ve removed both sites’ ability to monetize with Google” remained as NBC added a note that The Federalist “has three days to remove the violations before the ban goes into effect.”
wtf is this update? No correction, the offending quotes aren’t even removed. Their story now has active contradictions pic.twitter.com/VqFa2TpdoB
— Grant Addison (@jgrantaddison) June 16, 2020
NBC even initially kept its lead sentence, despite the new statement from Google contesting the central premise of the article.
NBC seems to have updated its story on Google and The Federalist, but the update appears to break the lede pic.twitter.com/84m1XLIT1q
— Brian Fung (@b_fung) June 16, 2020
It’s unclear if NBC News will offer any further clarification.