Buzzfeed Takes A Stand Against Trump, Rejects RNC Ads
Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti told employees Monday that the media giant is dropping the Republican National Committee as an advertiser, now that Donald Trump is the party’s presumptive nominee.
In an email to the staff, Peretti explained the decision, likening Trump ads to cigarette ads. “We don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health,” Peretti wrote, “and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason.”
Peretti took particular issue with Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, his approach to immigration, his comments about women, and his threats to limit the free press. “We certainly don’t like to turn away revenue that funds all the important work we do across the company,” the email reads. “However, in some cases we must make business exceptions.”
Buzzfeed’s decision to withdraw from the advertising deal illustrates just how thorny Trump’s relationship with the media has become. As the candidate consistently bashes the press as “dishonest” and “disgusting,” those same media outlets are struggling to remain unbiased, while also acknowledging that Trump’s campaign—and many of its platforms—are anything but normal. Just as Trump is rewriting the rules around how politicians are supposed to behave, he’s also rewriting the rules around how responsible journalists need to cover what is a historically incendiary and polarizing candidacy.
Peretti insisted that the advertising decision won’t impact Buzzfeed’s coverage of Trump, and yet, it’s tough not to read this as, well, whatever the opposite of an endorsement is. Buzzfeed is not, however, the first media outlet to take such a public stand. The Huffington Post, which Peretti co-founded with Arianna Huffington, famously published all its early Trump coverage this election cycle under its Entertainment section. By December, it reversed that decision, but now ends its Trump coverage with a note that reads, “Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”
Trump’s campaign has also put new media sources, like Facebook, in a tricky position, as the company tries to balance its responsibility as a news source without appearing to back Trump’s policies. Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, an immigration activist, appeared to criticize Trump’s plan’s to build a wall on the Mexican border. Weeks later, when Facebook was accused of suppressing conservative content in its Trending Topics feature, that comment was considered by some to be evidence of Facebook’s clear liberal bias.
In a typical election year, it’s unlikely these public figures—particularly those in the journalism business—would feel so justified in speaking out against one candidate over another. But with Trump’s historically low favorability ratings and his widespread rejection within the Republican party, it’s clear that this is no typical election year. To pretend that it is risks normalizing Trump’s most radical ideas.
Hillary Clinton used Donald Trump’s own words as weapons against him during her highly anticipated speech on national security today. She depicted her Republican opponent as “temperamentally unfit” to be President of the United States, and for proof, she pointed to Trump’s Twitter feed.
“Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry but America’s entire arsenal,” Clinton said.
Clinton lifted lines from Trump’s own speeches, interviews, and social media accounts and used them to paint a picture of a candidate who does not have a coherent plan for the country, “just a series of bizarre rants.” The audience in San Diego laughed as Clinton paraphrased Trump’s stance on everything from war to North Korea to climate change.
“He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors, because he has, quote, ‘a very good brain,’” Clinton said. “He believes climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.”
The former Secretary of State also rightly predicted that Trump might have something to say about these barbs. “We all know the tools Donald Trump brings to the table: bragging, mocking, composing nasty tweets. I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now.”
In fact, just moments before, Trump had done just that:
Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn’t even look presidential!
Afterward, “Imagine Donald Trump” began trending on Twitter, a reference to Clinton asking the audience to “imagine Donald Trump in the Situation Room.”
The speech was a sneak peek of what the general election season is bound to look like—and how it will play out online. Taking a cue from her nemesis, Clinton leaned more heavily on personal attacks, rather than policy talk, managing to steal the news cycle from Trump for the day. In the process, the Clinton campaign seems to be acknowledging that this fall, it’s not just better ideas that will win the election. It’s better memes.
During a speech on his economic record today, President Obama issued a scorching warning to Americans about Donald Trump: “Don’t think this agenda’s going to help you. It’s not designed to help you.”
The president sounded at turns exasperated and confounded as he addressed the people of Elkhart, Indiana, a town he last visited during the throes of the recession in 2009, and which he said he chose today “precisely because this county votes Republican.”
“If the economy is really what’s driving this election, then it’s going to be voters like you who will have to decide between two very different visions of what’s going to help strengthen our middle class,” Obama told the crowd before laying out what he believes the differences between those visions are.
For Obama, the speech was a chance to boast about his administration’s economic achievements—including the country’s consistent job growth and a shrinking deficit—while bashing the presumptive Republican nominee for president, who Obama believes would derail that progress. Without ever mentioning his name, Obama took Trump to task over everything from his tax policies to immigration to trade to his “provocative” tweets.
“I’m not here looking for votes,” Obama said. “I’m here because I care deeply as a citizen about making sure we sustain and build on all the work that communities like yours have done to bring America back over the last seven and a half years.”
Not that Obama shied away from sounding the kind of populist note that has characterized the 2016 campaign season. He called Trump’s proposal to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants “a fantasy” and rejected the idea that immigrants are responsible for stagnating wages in this country. Instead, he laid the blame on another popular target—corporate elites.
“Those decisions are made in the board rooms of companies where top CEOs are getting paid more than 300 times the income of the average worker,” he said.
He went on to frame Trump as a candidate who only has the interests of the rich at heart. He attacked Trump’s plans to overhaul the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, and lambasting his proposed tax plan which would provide a major tax cut to the top .1 percent of American earners.
“That will not make your lives better,” Obama said. “That will help people like him.”
On trade, Obama called the idea that “other countries are killing us on trade,” which is a frequent Trump talking point, a myth. He argued, instead, that while trade and technological advancement have hurt certain industries, they’ve helped others, like agriculture and technology. He also emphasized the importance of trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership in dictating the terms of trade.
“If you don’t want China to set the rules for the 21st century, and they’re trying, then TPP makes sure we set the rules,” Obama said.
On that point, at least, Obama was not just fighting Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric. Both Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have publicly opposed the deal as well. With that exception, the president’s talk could have easily been ripped from the stump speeches of either of the Democratic candidates on the campaign trail. On nearly every economic issue—from pay equity to labor standards to investment in infrastructure—Obama painted a doomsday scenario on the right.
“When I hear working families thinking about voting for those plans, then I want to have an intervention,” Obama said.
“If we fall for a bunch of okey doke, just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative then we’re not going to build on the progress that we started.”
Tell us how you really feel, Mr. President.
This weekend’s Nevada Democratic State Convention looked like something out of a Donald Trump rally—which is to say, it was marked by chaotic protests, violent threats, and flying projectiles.
On Saturday night, Bernie Sanders’ supporters reportedly revolted against the Nevada Democratic Party, accusing it of intentionally rigging the convention to favor Hillary Clinton. The fight continued throughout the weekend as aggrieved Sanders supporters deluged Nevada Democratic Chair Roberta Lange with sexist and threatening texts and voicemails.
Today, the Vermont senator issued a statement condemning any instances of violence carried out by his supporters. At the same time, he denounced what he called a corrupt system within the Nevada state party.
“Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals,” Sanders said in a statement. But, he added: “At that convention the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.”
At issue is the fact that though Clinton won the Nevada caucuses in February, the Sanders campaign has been actively organizing to win county conventions. By amassing more delegates at these county conventions, the Sanders campaign stood to cut into Clinton’s delegate lead at the statewide convention.
But the Nevada State Democratic Party denied credentials to 64 of Sanders’ delegates, saying that they either weren’t registered as Democrats or that their records couldn’t be verified. In the end, six of them received credentials, but the vote still tipped in Clinton’s favor.
The room soon erupted in protests.
Meanwhile, the chaotic scene has created waves within Sanders’ massive Reddit community as well. Moderators are urging Sanders supporters to avoid the kind of language that could get them in trouble with the media.
“They’re expecting us to act this way. If we take the bait and react violently and/or with threats of violence, we play right into their hands,” one moderator wrote. “Remember, what would Bernie do?”
Setting aside the issue of violence, however, it’s a little ironic to see the Sanders campaign accusing the state party of rigging the contest. Sanders has often criticized party leaders for trying to subvert the will of the people. But in this case, it’s Clinton who won the Nevada caucus to begin with and Sanders who’s using the cryptic system of delegate math to gain the edge.
On a related note: Anyone know where a girl can secure a hardhat for the convention in July?
Marco Rubio is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.
Last night, in a Tweetstorm for the ages, the Florida Senator let loose a torrent of frustrations about what has been the most absurd election cycle in recent memory. And can you blame him?
It’s been a rough year for Rubio. Once thought to be the Republican party’s great hope, instead he spent this election cycle being repeatedly ridiculed for his height, his urge to stay well hydrated, his possibly overactive sweat glands, and more. He not only lost his home state of Florida, but he opted not to run for re-election to the Senate.
With the exception of his Marcorobot meltdown during the New Hampshire debate, the young Senator mostly retained his composure. But with just months left until he’s a private citizen again, Rubio is taking a note straight from the Donald Trump playbook, and telling it like it is on Twitter.
The flint to Rubio’s fire last night seemed to have been a Washington Post article alleging that he is “betwixt and between” on his next move.
Funny to read about unnamed “people close” to me who claim to know my thinking on future plans.They just make it up. https://t.co/jiEYMugVHz