YouTube star retracts Wall Street Journal allegation of doctored reporting

BTW

On Sunday YouTube star Ethan Klein of the popular H3H3 Productions claimed that the Wall Street Journal’s Jack Nicas fabricated screenshots showing an algorithm failure in blocking large corporate advertising from appearing before racist videos. He compiled the evidence in an eight-minute video.

“Seems like some simple fact checks could’ve gone onto it before you completely demonized and destroyed a platform and the income of all their users,” said Klein in his video, before claiming it to be “the smoking gun.”

It’s a compelling case that, unfortunately for Klein, was completely wrong.

These were Nicas’ supposedly doctored tweets:

Numerous onlookers turned detectives, trying to solidify Klein’s claims. There’s even a Reddit thread that remains live as of this writing.

The big problem with Klein’s (and others) assertions is that Nicas was right all along, and all they had to do to verify Nicas’ claims was to ask YouTube if the racist video in question—titled “Chief Keef dancing to Alabama Ni—er”—had been monetized.

Not only had the video made money, ads from Coca-Cola even appeared. It was eventually flagged by YouTube’s copyright claim algorithm, with the revenue going to the rights holder of a racist track called “Alabama Ni—er.” In short order, Klein had to fall back and turn his “smoking gun” video private.

Klein eventually had to post a retraction video, albeit a passive-aggressive one.

Of course, this comes on the heels of mounting anger over big-box brands pulling ads (and their dollars) away from being sewn in with racist videos and other objectionable content. (See: PewDiePie.) YouTubers like Klein believe “objectionable” has become too broad, blanketing blameless channels.

Kahron Spearman

Kahron Spearman

Kahron Spearman is a music and film critic whose work can also regularly be regularly found in the Austin Chronicle.