Media

Hands Off the Federalist

Google logo at the Viva Tech summit in Paris, France, in 2018. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

So, Google was demonetizing the Federalist, and then it wasn’t. NBC News has the story, or it doesn’t.

On Tuesday, NBC News published a story claiming that Google had “banned” the Federalist, a right-wing news and commentary site, from its advertising platform. The Federalist, according to NBC News, was being “demonetized.” Google shortly thereafter asserted that no such thing had happened with the Federalist; Google took issue with some of the content in the Federalist’s comments section and worked with the publication to resolve the issue.

This was all generally related to criticism of the recent protests originating in Minneapolis and Black Lives Matter, an organization of which the Left intends to permit no criticism.

NBC News did what looks like some bad reporting. But NBC News also was at the heart of the story: A complaint from NBC News is what started off Google’s review process to begin with, at least according to a report from NBC News, which, apparently, is not to be trusted here.

The Federalist may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but NBC’s campaign against the publication looks like the new rabid normal in journalism. Adele-Momoko Fraser, the NBC journalist at the center of the story, festooned her tweeting gloating about the Federalist’s fictional demonetization with the Black Lives Matter activist hashtag and described her work as “collaboration” with left-wing activists.

Collaboration, yes. Journalism? No.

Media outfits that rely heavily upon the goodwill and cooperation of Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are making a very dangerous bet. These companies have shown time and again that they can be bullied and bullied fairly easily — by Beijing, by Brussels, and, most important, by their own employees. They are media companies of a kind, but what they mostly are is commodity eyeball aggregators with no abiding interest in journalism or democratic discourse and no real grounding in the history and culture of free speech and freedom of the press.

They are multi-multi-billion-dollar behemoths, but they are oddly easy to push around, if the right kind of person is doing the pushing. And the people at the Federalist aren’t the kind that the powers in Silicon Valley companies care about very much, even if they do take an occasional Jane Goodall–ish interest in conservatives.

The Left will try to shut down the Federalist, just as it has tried to cancel Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh. We expect that National Review will be targeted in the same way in turn. We have been sounding the alarm about the authoritarianism and illiberalism of the Left for years, and the current nadir is surprising even to us.

Remember this: If they can do it to the Federalist, if they can do it to the New York Times, if they can do it to the University of Chicago, they can do it to you.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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