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Expert raises concerns about ad placement on NYT's 'The Daily': 'It does sort of boggle my mind'

"They're hoping that they won't get called out."

"They're hoping that they won't get called out."

Photo Credit: iStock

The New York Times is coming under scrutiny after airing an advertisement from an oil and gas titan during its climate-focused podcast The Daily.

The newsletter Heated, a publication on Substack, detailed how the media giant promised to ban dirty-energy companies from sponsoring any climate content back in 2021.

Despite this policy, The Daily ran an ad from BP at the beginning of a February episode — an ad that discussed how the company had reduced pollution during natural gas production.

The spot also directed listeners to a website by BP that praised its efforts to "create new low-carbon businesses."

"It's a pretty clear cut case of misleading advertising," Robert Brulle, a Brown University professor, told Heated, indicating that BP was engaging in greenwashing.  

"[BP is] trying to create this veneer of being part of the solution [to the overheating of our planet], not part of the problem," he continued. "It does sort of boggle my mind how the New York Times could allow that."

Times spokesperson Elizabeth MacAulay Young told Heated that oil and gas companies simply aren't allowed "to sponsor The Daily wholesale" but didn't elaborate further on the difference.  

The news outlet also reportedly declined to answer questions about why it continues to give a platform to ads that seemingly run contrary to its policy of banning advertising that is "intentionally misleading, deceptive, or contains false information."

However, Heated pointed to a 2021 statement by the Times, which has "extensively" covered corporate greenwashing, that suggested it saw the money coming in from those ads as a way to support its newsroom coverage on climate issues. 

"The New York Times is trying to skate a fine line," Brulle said

For its part, BP is planning to scale up its production of oil and natural gas, even though the burning of dirty energy creates pollution linked to costly health concerns like asthma, in addition to being the primary driver of the overheating of our planet. 

The United Nations has identified a transition to clean energy, like solar and wind, as a way to support economies through job creation while avoiding "the worst impacts" associated with changing global temperatures.  

"Advertising works — which is why BP spends so much on it," one commenter wrote on the Heated article. "And we continue to patronize companies that actively deceive us and destroy our environment."

According to Heated, The Daily has not covered greenwashing over thousands of episodes, and it has not yet responded to inquiries about the BP ad it aired. 

"Of course they understand what's going on," Brulle told the newsletter. "And they're hoping that they won't get called out."

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