NBC News and Google had contradictory messages Tuesday scrambling to address backlash resulting from a report about The Federalist that quickly fell apart.
NBC first claimed that The Federalist had already been demonetized from Google Ads, quoting a Google spokesperson in the process. Shortly after publication, Google disputed the claim, saying that The Federalist had not yet been de-monetized, but was rather given the chance to address issues regarding its comment section.
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
NBC’s latest version of the article still includes both quotes, but added that “Google backtracked” and clarified “that The Federalist had been warned about policy violations but still had time to address them.” Zero Hedge has been de-monetized from Google Ads. (RELATED: Google Employees Debated Burying Conservative Websites In Search)
“To be clear, The Federalist is not currently demonetized,” a Google spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday. “We do have strict publisher policies that govern the content ads can run on, which includes comments on the site. This is a longstanding policy.”
Besides falsely claiming that The Federalist had already been demonetized, NBC News also first suggested that the bans came about “after research revealed the tech giant was profiting from articles pushing unsubstantiated claims about the Black Lives Matters protests.”
The current article admits that Zero Hedge was banned “over policy violations found in the comments section of stories about recent Black Lives Matter protests.” It also admits that The Federalist was warned regarding “comments on articles related to recent protests” and not, as NBC first suggested, over “racist articles about the protests” that the NBC News Verification Unit brought to Google’s attention.
Adele-Momoko Fraser, a reporter at the NBC News Verification Center, wrote the article and thanked two research groups for their “collaboration” with it. Fraser later clarified her tweet, writing that the network “obtained this research exclusively” but didn’t “collaborate on the research itself.”
Even as the top half of the story has been completely rewritten, the network has yet to issue any update note, clarification or editor’s note to its article. The network did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller.