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The Drum

BuzzFeed terminates ad contract with Republican party over Donald Trump’s ‘offensive’ rhetoric

BuzzFeed will no longer show ads from the Republican National Committee (RNC) in protest of Donald Trump’s rhetoric – slamming the presidential candidate’s campaign principles as being “directly opposed to the freedoms” of the publisher’s employees in the US and around the world.

Writing in a memo to staff on Monday (6 June), BuzzFeed founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti said that the media owner would be terminating an agreement it signed with the RNC back in April due to comments made by Trump.

The deal, which would have seen the RNC spend a “significant amount” on political advertisements slated to run later this year has since been called off, with BuzzFeed informing the political group that it would not accept Trump for President ads.

Peretti pointed out that the site accepts ads from both Republican and Democrat candidates, adding that it was initially “pleased” to accept the offer; however this changed as Trump became the party’s presumptive nominee.

“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," he wrote.

Assuring staff that the decision to cancel the ad purchase would have no bearing on BuzzFeed's continued coverage of the election, Peretti added: "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."

He continued: "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.”

Last year, BuzzFeed journalists were told they were free to call Trump a "racist" on social media as a matter of fact.

The company's editor-in-chief Ben Smith said clarified in staff email that they would not find themselves in trouble for calling the property tycoon "a liar or a racist". “It is, for instance, entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist, as the politics team and others here have reported clearly and aggressively,” Smith noted.

“He’s out there saying things that are false and running an overtly anti-Muslim campaign. BuzzFeed News’s reporting is rooted in facts, not opinion; these are facts."