BuzzFeed said it has terminated an advertising deal with the Republican National Committee (RNC) ahead of the November US presidential election. In an email sent to staffers, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said the company was making a “business exception” based on the divisive rhetoric of Republican party nominee Donald Trump. The deal was estimated to be worth around $1.3 million, according to The Hill.
“The Trump campaign is directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States and around the world,” he wrote, “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.”
The RNC, for its part, claims they “never intended to use BuzzFeed” as an ad platform anyway. In an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said that ad space has been reserved on a number of media platforms, but it never seriously intended to utilize BuzzFeed. “It is ironic that they have not ruled out taking money from a candidate currently under investigation by the FBI,” he added, referring to current Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, whose ads are featured on BuzzFeed.
“We don’t need to and do not expect to agree with the positions or values of all our advertisers,” Peretti’s email concluded. “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.”
The site’s editorial position on Trump has arguably already been made clear, however. An internal memo written by editor-in-chief Ben Smith in December 2015 (first leaked by Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, then tweeted out by Smith himself) declared it permissible for BuzzFeed reporters to refer to the candidate as a “mendacious racist.”