While that nation’s chattering classes profess to be shocked by the rise of Donald Trump, whose meteoric campaign is now veering increasingly into hot-button racial issues, few news media sites have taken a principled stand by refusing to accept the real estate mogul and reality star’s political advertising.
BuzzFeed became the first national news outlet to swear off Trump’s ad dollars.
In an email to BuzzFeed employees also published on the site, CEO Jonah Peretti said the company had canceled a $1.3 million contract with the Republican National Committee to run political ads for Trump’s presidential campaign beginning in the fall — in the final key months before the election on November 8.
Peretti cited Trump’s inflammatory statements and insulting language about Muslims, Mexicans and women, among other groups, as reasons for terminating the deal with the RNC.
He argued that Trump’s policies would directly harm BuzzFeed’s own employees or impede its ability to continue publishing.
Taking Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration and international travel as an example, Peretti wrote: “The Trump campaign is directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States and around the world and in some cases, such as his proposed ban on international travel for Muslims, would make it impossible for our employees to do their jobs.”
Peretti added: “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.”
On the editorial side, BuzzFeed will continue to cover the Trump campaign, editor-in-chief Ben Smith affirmed in a separate email to staffers, noting of the decision to reject RNC ads: “This was Jonah’s call, and the prerogative of a publisher.”
While rejection by one publisher is unlikely to spell success or failure for a presidential campaign — especially when it’s a left-leaning “progressive” outlet like BuzzFeed — the site’s rejection of Trump ads highlights the mounting obstacles the Republican Party faces in connecting to millennials. They are a politically engaged, if often unreliable voting bloc, who have also displayed a fairly strong aversion to Trump.
In April, a poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics, voters ages 18-29 preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump as president by 61% to 25%.