Cash Flood Puts Politicos, Advertisers in Bed with Racists: Column

Cristina Cabrera and David Mastio, USA Today, June 25, 2015

Republican presidential candidates weren’t the only ones red-faced after the press noticed their financial ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a racist organization that allegedly inspired the accused Charleston killer, Dylann Roof.

The statement of CCC President Earl Holt about his donations to several GOP candidates appeared on an affiliated racist web magazine site called American Renaissance. Advertising that you might see in any mainstream web publication appeared right next to it.

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Taboola, a company with $200 million in annual revenue which provides the “Here’s more you might be interested in!” blurbs you see on many news sites (including USA TODAY’s), is one such network. Its ads appeared directly beneath Holt’s statement on the political fundraising controversy. The smaller, right-leaning Newsmax Feed Network, with a similar business model, ran to the right. Spokespersons for both companies say they were unaware of the racist nature of American Renaissance.

Taboola says on its website that “content that endorses any form of hate or hate group”is prohibited. After being asked about the business relationship between Taboola and American Renaissance, spokeswoman Tammy Goodman wrote, “We certainly do not identify with the ideals posed by this particular publisher, and we were not explicitly aware of them when they signed up for our service. We have thousands of different sites on our network, and while we do our best to keep content that violates our guidelines off our network, we do occasionally miss some from time to time.” Taboola has since removed its advertising from American Renaissance.

When we talked on Monday to Newsmax spokesman Anthony Rizzo, he maintained that “we discovered this on our own this morning.” He said, “We’re re-evaluating all our feed networks and making sure our feeds are not promoting racist sites.” Newsmax, too, has removed its advertising from American Renaissance.

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[Editor’s Note: Both Taboola and Newsmax approached American Renaissance asking us to publish their ads. A Taboola marketing representative e-mailed us: “I’m looking forward to working with you guys. It’s an added bonus when I get to work with sites that I enjoy reading!”

Needless to say, this change will cut our revenue. Please consider donating to support our work. Without our supporters, we could do nothing.]

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