March 1, 2017

Breitbart, allegedly facing advertising woes, could become more insidious


Steve Bannon once described Breitbart as the “platform of the alt-right.”

Efforts to push companies to pull their advertising dollars from Breitbart seem to actually be working. In the past week, various reports have come out to indicate that the boycott has been widespread enough to cause alarm at the ultra-conservative “news” and opinion site.

Last Tuesday, Buzzfeed published a leaked memo from the Australian arm of Omnicon’s media buying business that “suggests that global brands have been demanding their banner advertising be removed.” Further evidence came from the crowd-funded group Sleeping Giants, who reported that over 1,000 businesses had pulled their ads from Breitbart in response to their social media campaign. More significantly, unnamed sources at Breitbart apparently told Fox Business that the site had seen “advertising dollars shrinking.” The same sources are paraphrased saying that “an effort is underway to make Breitbart more mainstream,” apparently in response to declining ad revenue.

As Fox reports, according to an anonymous tipster, “(Breitbart) is leaving so much money on the table given how much traffic we generate… That’s why they have to change to cover more mainstream news and appeal to a broader audience to attract the ad dollars that should be coming in but aren’t.”

To read the reports on this development, one who would think that journalists are greeting this news as a good thing. And yet, is it really heartening that a site known for their horrendously biased opinion pieces—not to mention pretty clear ties to the alt-right—is making efforts to become more palatable to the mainstream? Before the rise of Trump, it wouldn’t really have been conceivable that journalists from the Wall Street Journal and The Hill would take jobs at Breitbart, and now it’s being presented as evidence of some kind of positive shift, or at least as a win for boycotters. The possibility that Breitbart might actually start publishing news alongside their intellectually dubious, inflammatory drivel is cold comfort. For a site that constantly rails against elites, this apparent bowing to the pressures of advertisers should gain them no credit with their readers — right?



Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.