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BuzzFeed announced today that they will not accept or run any ads for the Trump campaign. The popular news and entertainment website terminated a $1.3 million deal with the Republican National Committee due to the presumptive GOP nominee’s rhetoric and campaign positions.
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti informed employees of the decision in an email:
Since signing this advertising deal, Donald Trump, as you know, has become the presumptive nominee of his party. The tone and substance of his campaign are unique in the history of modern US politics. Trump advocates banning Muslims from traveling to the United States, he’s threatened to limit the free press, and made offensive statements toward women, immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and foreign nationals.
Earlier today Buzzfeed informed the RNC that we would not accept Trump for President ads and that we would be terminating our agreement with them. 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.
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.
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.
BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith insisted that the decision will not affect the news coverage whatsoever since it was a business decision, not an editorial one. But is there any way journalists can cover a campaign fairly when their publisher has declared one of the candidates (and not the one with a pending FBI investigation) “hazardous to our health?”