BuzzFeed has made a bold move in the effort to stop Donald Trump from gaining the White House this November.
The popular news and culture website withdrew from a $1.3 million deal with the Republican National Committee (RNC) because of the party’s support of the controversial frontrunner.
A source close to BuzzFeed told Politico that the company could not have “employees make ads, or working at the company and having our site promoting things, that limit our freedom and make it harder for them to live their lives.”
The source added that “we won’t take ads for his presidential campaign.”
A staff email to BuzzFeed employees from none other than founder and CEO Jonah Peretti explained that, since Trump essentially won the Republican nomination, his campaign has proven to be “directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States.”
Among the evidence of this are the proposed temporary Muslim immigration bans and some of his comments on illegal immigrants.
The email continued:
“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.”
— John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul) June 6, 2016
The preliminary agreement that BuzzFeed reached with the RNC in April would have been substantial, so the fact the company is walking away on principle is startling.
However, it could — and given the state of this election cycle, likely will — help the Trump campaign more than hurt it.
Firstly, BuzzFeed‘s public denunciation draws only more attention to the Donald Trump campaign.
Trump’s entire play for the presidency has been built on the foundation that any publicity is good publicity. So far, he’s been right.
Beyond some personalities on Fox News — Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity namely — the media has been brutal to him.
Nevertheless, he received more votes than any Republican in a national primary in the party’s history.
Secondly, BuzzFeed has motivated Trump’s base even more than they already are.
Agree or disagree, Trump is saying what’s on the minds of millions of Americans, who feel too disenfranchised and beaten down with political correctness to say the same things themselves.
The only way he has been able to get away with comments that would sink any other candidate is that he has successfully painted an already distrusted media in an adversarial light.
It’s an “us vs. them” mentality that has always been there, according to Gallup‘s frequent polling on the American people’s distrust of the media.
By banning Trump altogether, BuzzFeed is only giving Trump supporters one more “piece of evidence” that the media has a left-wing bias.
Thirdly, BuzzFeed has further legitimized Donald Trump as the outsider candidate.
Americans on both ends of the political spectrum desire an outsider. The overwhelming support of candidates like Trump and Bernie Sanders are proof.
With Sanders nearing elimination and his supporters growing increasingly furious at Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over the perceived mistreatment of their candidate, it is likely that some Sanders supporters could break for the “other outsider” (Trump) or not vote at all.
Either way, it hurts Hillary, and when you have news outlets as popular as BuzzFeed refusing money from a presidential candidate, it automatically paints that candidate as an outsider.
The message sent from BuzzFeed – and any other news outlet that follows suit by denying Trump ad space – is a lot like preaching to the choir.
The people who read these publications are already going to vote for Hillary anyway, and any stray Trump supporters are so enamored with their candidate that they are not going to be swayed by a lack of advertising. As mentioned above, they will simply be more motivated to cast their votes and get those in their circle of influence to do the same.
With this election cycle already seeing a record turnout — mostly in Trump’s favor — BuzzFeed and all others might be better served to treat Trump like any other candidate and stop talking so much about him.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) June 7, 2016
But what do you think, readers?
Will the BuzzFeed move against Trump make any difference?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons / Gage Skidmore]