This week saw a depressing new low in the attempt by the left to silence voices with which it disagrees when an NBC News “reporter” tried to enlist Google to block two conservative websites’ ability to make money.
In a report on Tuesday, NBC News’ London-based Adele-Momoko Fraser claimed that Google had banned The Federalist and Zero Hedge from its ad platform over articles that were “pushing unsubstantiated claims about the Black Lives Matter protests.”
Google soon tried to correct the record, saying that “The Federalist was never demonetized.” Google had only threatened to blacklist the site from its ad network. (It did “demonetize” Zero Hedge.)
What’s more, contrary to NBC News, Google’s actions against The Federalist and Zero Hedge had nothing to do with articles they published, but with reader comments on those sites. Google told Fox News that it has “strict publisher policies that govern the content ads can run on, which includes comments on the site. This is a longstanding policy.”
It turns out that not only did NBC’s Fraser botch the story, she also played an active role in generating the “news” in the first place. It was NBC News that notified Google of “research conducted by the Center for Countering Digital Hate,” a heretofore unknown and sketchy outfit, which got the ball rolling.
When her initial story published, Fraser tweeted out a cheery thanks to the CCDH for “their hard work and collaboration.”
Since Fraser hasn’t been fired or disciplined – that we know of – it’s apparently acceptable at NBC News for a reporter to actively try to silence other journalists, while playing fast and loose with the facts. So long as it’s in service of a leftist agenda. This isn’t media bias. This is media malpractice.
While NBC News is rightly taking heat for this debacle, there’s still the problem of Google’s behavior. The fact that it tried to pull the financial plug on The Federalist over reader comments is hardly a source of comfort. Particularly since Google’s application of this rule seems so partisan.
Go to any far-left website and you’re likely to find hate-filled comments, offensive language, and calls for violence and mayhem, right next to ads placed there by Google’s ubiquitous ad network.
As Sen. Ted Cruz noted in a letter to Google CEO Sander Pichai on Wednesday, “on any given day, there are thousands of profane, racist and indefensible comments posted on YouTube, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google.”
Cruz wants Pichai to explain just what Google’s “longstanding” policy is when it comes to advertising and reader comments, and how the company enforces it. Does Google, he asks, “apply the same standards to all media organizations, or just those with which it has political disagreements.” (We hope Cruz isn’t waiting for an honest answer to that one.)
There’s also the fact Google itself, along with every other social media company actively trying to silence conservatives, enjoys immunity from lawsuits involving user-created content – thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
As Cruz notes, “while Google holds that it cannot be held financially accountable for unlawful speech on its own platform, it is all too willing to use its market power to hold a conservative media outlet financially responsible for allowing disfavored speech on its platforms.” Google “hypocrisy” and you get Google.
We aren’t supporters of having the federal government step in and regulate or break up Big Tech. These are private companies, after all, as is NBC News. But if the government hammer comes down, Google and company will only have themselves to blame.
In the meantime, wouldn’t it be nice if Google went back to its mission of organizing the world’s information and making it easily accessible, and journalists went back to reporting the news instead of making it up, and the internet was a liberating force for free expression?
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board