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BuzzFeed kills its $1.3M advertising deal with the Republican National Committee because of Donald Trump

CEO Jonah Peretti sent a memo to the staff.

Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti says that the company won't be running ads for the Republican party this fall because Donald Trump is the nominee.

In an email to BuzzFeed staff, Peretti says that because Trump is "directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States," the company is canceling a previously signed agreement with the Republican National Committee.

Politico reports that the deal was worth about $1.3 million.

Last December, BuzzFeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith told his staff that it was okay to call Trump a racist and a liar on social media (in spite of non-partisan editorial guidelines), because Smith said such characterizations were based in fact.

I asked Smith if he thinks BuzzFeed would have ended the RNC advertising deal if Ted Cruz was the nominee. Toward the end of his campaign, Cruz was almost singularly devoted to playing up transgender bathroom panic, and Smith has previously said that on LGBT equality, "there are no two sides to the issue."

Smith declined to comment, noting that he told another reporter, "This was Jonah’s call, and the prerogative of a publisher," not an editorial decision.

Update: GOP representative Sean Spicer told CNN's Brian Stelter that "space was reserved on many platforms, but we never intended to use BuzzFeed."

Here's Peretti's full email to BuzzFeed staff:

Hello BuzzFeeders,

I wanted to share with you a business decision we have made regarding the Trump for President campaign and why we made it.

In April, the Republican National Committee signed an agreement with BuzzFeed to spend a significant amount on political advertisements slated to run during the Fall election cycle. As you know, we accept advertisements from both republican and democratic candidates and we were pleased to accept this advertising order from the RNC.

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.



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