Breitbart News, the media outlet whose executive chairman, Steve Bannon, was Donald Trump’s campaign CEO and is now the president-elect’s chief counselor, is declaring war on liberal activists who are encouraging brands to withhold their advertising from the popular website.
Insurance company Allstate and food company Kellogg’s, maker of Fruit Loops and Cocoa Krispies, are the latest to declare that they’ll no longer allow their advertising to appear alongside Breitbart articles, which progressive activists are calling “racist,” “sexist,” “anti-Semitic” and more.
People with knowledge of the matter say activists have been gathering screenshots of online ads at Breitbart.com and pressuring companies to pull them. It’s a tactic similar to ones that have worked to varying degrees against Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and other conservative pundits.
“We’ll handle this the way we always do — war,” Breitbart CEO Larry Solov told The Hollywood Reporter (founder Andrew Breitbart, before his death in 2012, declared “war” on what he called the “Democratic-Media Complex,” his term for a liberally biased news and entertainment industry).
“What you’re seeing is Kellogg’s and others buying into a false, left-wing narrative that our 45 million readers are deplorables,” said Solov, referencing Hillary Clinton’s charge that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.”
“We regularly work with our media-buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren’t aligned with our values as a company,” said Kellogg’s spokesperson Kris Charles.
“This involves reviewing websites where ads could potentially be placed using filtering technology to assess site content,” explained Charles. “As you can imagine, there is a very large volume of websites, so occasionally something is inadvertently missed. In this case, we learned from consumers that ads were placed on Breitbart.com and decided to discontinue advertising there.”
Allstate, which also has yanked its advertising from Breitbart, did not respond to a request for comment.
Breitbart has been under attack from progressive groups like Media Matters for America and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which cite about a half-dozen headlines that their groups find offensive, such as: “Political correctness protects Muslim rape culture” and “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.”
Solov, though, says the headlines are cherry-picked among the thousands at the site, and they are usually purposely provocative. While Breitbart’s detractors routinely use them to smear the news outlet, they usually do so without citing the actual content of the articles.
“Our readers are mainstream America and, frankly, that’s who these advertisers risk alienating,” Solov said of Kellogg’s and Allstate. “They’re creating economic censorship of conservative discourse. They say we don’t represent their values — but we represent American values.”
Others that reportedly have stopped advertising on Breitbart — and some have boasted of their decision via their Twitter accounts — include pharmaceuticals maker Novo Nordisk, online glasses retailer Warby Parker, and the San Diego Zoo.
UPDATE: On Wednesday it was evident in what form Solov’s “war” would take, as Breitbart.com’s home page featured several negative stories about Kellogg’s, as well as a petition for boycotting the company’s products, which was signed by 20,000 people in two hours.
At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Breitbart’s #DumpKelloggs was the No. 1 trending hashtag on Twitter.
“Breitbart launched its #DumpKelloggs petition to encourage its vast readership and the followers of its #1 in the world political Facebook and Twitter pages to ban bigotry from the breakfast table by boycotting Kellogg’s products,” a story at the site read on Wednesday. The story also listed 32 of the food company’s most famous products.