After slamming at least 29 conservative outlets and websites as “unreliable,” it appears Poynter was unprepared for the negative response it caused — for publishing something incredibly unreliable.
When the Washington Examiner reacted to the Poynter blacklist, which included 515 websites and at least 29 conservative sites, Poynter took the Examiner off the list. Later, on May 2, it removed a paragraph that encouraged advertisers to blacklist these websites. But after even more backlash from the conservative sites targeted, Poynter editor Barbara Allen removed the whole hit job, replacing it with a letter of apology.
“We are removing this unreliable sites list until we are able to provide our audience a more consistent and rigorous set of criteria,” wrote Allen. “We feel that many of the sites did have a track record of publishing unreliable information.”
Even Allen admitted that feelings did not necessarily have the same weight as fact. She said that her team “began an audit to test the accuracy and veracity of the list.” They found that there were indeed “weaknesses in the methodology.”
The methodology, published by Southern Poverty Law Center’s Barrett Golding, made it possible for the list to target The Drudge Report, The Daily Caller, the Media Research Center, CNSNews.com, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Free Beacon, The Daily Wire, the Daily Signal, Project Veritas, Twitchy, The Blaze, Red State, LifeNews, LifeSiteNews, LifeZette, LiveAction News, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Breitbart, and Judicial Watch.
The initial version attempted to kneecap these organizations further by attacking their advertisers. It suggested that “Advertisers don’t want to support publishers that might tar their brand with hate speech, falsehoods or some kinds of political messaging.”
Allen wrote, “We regret that we failed to ensure that the data was rigorous before publication, and apologize for the confusion and agitation caused by its publication.”