BuzzFeed has reportedly pulled out of a massive advertising deal with the Republican National Committee over nominee Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric.
BuzzFeed reportedly inked an advertising deal with the RNC worth some $1.3 million, but after months of Donald Trump’s divisive and culturally insensitive rhetoric, BuzzFeed has backed out of the deal over fears that BuzzFeed employees could have their freedoms curtailed under a Trump presidency.
A source close to BuzzFeed spoke with Politico and stated that the media company couldn’t agree with “having employees make ads, or working at the company and having our site promoting things, that limit our freedom to make it harder for them to live their lives,” alluding to certain notorious Trump statements that could impact LGBT, Hispanic, or Muslim BuzzFeed employees.
The advertising deal between BuzzFeed and the RNC would have seen the news site running ads for the RNC during the upcoming Fall election cycle. Initially, the BuzzFeed RNC ad deal was put together back in April, before Trump had made some of his more controversial statements. But after Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination and continued to make comments regarding racial and religious minorities, BuzzFeed execs reportedly started to get cold feet.
“[We agreed] to spend a significant amount on political advertisements slated to run during the Fall election cycle,” said BuzzFeed Founder and CEO Jonah Peretti.
Peretti continued, stating that Trump and his campaign have proven that they are “directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States.” According to Politico, which obtained an internal memo detailing the falling out between BuzzFeed and the RNC, Trump’s rhetoric was just too divisive for the media company to be associated with.
“We don’t need to and do not expect to agree with the positions or values of all our advertisers. And as you know, there is a wall between our business and editorial operations. This decision to cancel this ad buy will have no influence on our continuing coverage of the campaign,” said CEO Jonah Peretti in an internal memo.
Pulling out of the RNC advertising deal wasn’t without difficulties, however. Despite the “wall” between BuzzFeed’s advertising and editorial departments – preventing one from influencing the other – the media company was decided that running Trump ads would be diametrically opposed to what BuzzFeed stands for. CEO Jonah Peretti compared it to the company’s decision not to run advertisements for cigarettes, stating that both Trump and cigarettes are hazardous.
“We certainly don’t like to turn away revenue that funds all the important work we do across the company. However, in some cases we must make business exceptions: we don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason,” said CEO Jonah Peretti in an internal memo.
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer criticized BuzzFeed for the decision to back out of their advertising deal, but dismissed the major online news outlet, stating that the RNC never intended to use the $1.3 million in ad space anyway.
“Space was reserved on many platforms, but we never intended to use BuzzFeed. It is ironic that they have not ruled out taking money from a candidate currently under investigation by the FBI,” said Spicer, speaking with CNN.
BuzzFeed isn’t the first outlet to take a stance against Trump. While the editorial side of BuzzFeed continues to cover the Trump campaign – despite Trump’s public denigration of their reporters – other outlets have gone further. Huffington Post, for instance, adds a notice to each Trump story, referring to the Republican nominee as a “serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, and birther.”
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