Imagine you’re the grown son of a legendary mainstream media executive who specializes in coddling advertisers, and your job is peddling digital ads. Then your mom is appointed CEO of a global social media platform, and you’re hired to restart that platform’s shuttered political ad sales organization.
Exciting stuff, but there’s a catch: the owner of your mom’s company is one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but he’s also a rapidly decompensating, bigoted crank who incessantly posts shitty, appalling things on his platform — the platform on which you need to persuade campaigns to place ads.
And right before you start selling ads for a high-stakes election, the crank endorses a horrendous antisemitic conspiracy theory — the same noxious garbage that inspired the worst act of antisemitic violence in U.S. history. And a few days later, media watchdog group Media Matters showed how major brands’ ads are appearing on that platform alongside pro-Nazi content.
Luckily for Twitter/X CEO Linda Yaccarino’s son, he’s in charge of selling ads to Republicans, so he’ll be fine. The poor schnook who’s charged with selling ads to Democrats, not so much. From Semafor:
Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, formerly Twitter, has turned the service’s Hail Mary bet on an imagined $100 million political advertising business over to someone she trusts: her son Matt Madrazo…
He’s part of what’s essentially a two-man operation to restart X’s political advertising business with the goal of capitalizing on the massive amounts of money that campaigns are about to spend during the 2024 elections…
According to three people with knowledge of the situation, Madrazo has been tasked with outreach to Republican digital advertising firms and spenders. Jonathan Phelps, a Pandora and Univision veteran who also joined X in recent months, is handling the platform’s (far less promising) outreach to Democrats. Working occasionally out of Tesla’s D.C. offices, the duo are hoping to resuscitate a line of cash at a moment when the company is desperate for new revenue.
Semafor says pre-Musk Twitter stopped selling political ads in 2019 due to “fears that partisan actors could pay to spread false or misleading information.” Of course, Musk doesn’t fear that possibility; it probably figured into why he bought the platform.
But the article points out that when the hellsite hawked political ads without the Musk albatross around its neck, it only brought in $3 million in 2018. Even if you quadruple that number for a presidential election year, it’s still just a fraction of Yaccarino’s alleged target for political ad sales next year: $100 million. (If I were Phelps, I’d worry about being the fall guy when it goes to shit.)
I’m not generally a fan of Jake Tapper, but I do give him some credit for asking Ron DeSantis about Musk’s antisemitic tweet this weekend when DeSantis appeared on his show. As usual, DeSantis rejected the opportunity to condemn right-wing antisemitism, claiming he hadn’t seen the tweet and couldn’t comment.
After Tapper helpfully read the tweets, DeSantis still refused to criticize Musk, claiming he’d have to look into the context, Then he trained his fire on the real enemy.
DeSantis said he signed legislation in Florida that he characterized as an effort to combat antisemitism on college campuses — which has come under fire for its ban on pro-Palestinian student groups —before insisting that antisemitism is seen on “both sides.”
“The difference is that, on the left, that tends to be attached to some major institutional power, like some of our most august universities,” he said. “Whereas I think, on the right, it tends to be more fringe voices that are doing it.”
Right: the lefty student groups and flinchy Ivy administrators are far more powerful than a dickhead (and fat cat government contractor!) with enough money to impulse-buy a major social media platform. I can’t think of anything more to say about that aside from the classic: Christ, what an asshole!