Some 46 Conservative parliamentarians have called on the Prime Minister to intervene against the ongoing advertiser “boycott” of media outlets. This is a subject dear to Guido’s heart and wallet. There is a concerted campaign by some smart people on the left to defund right-of-centre media. It first of all requires the delegitimisation of right-of-centre publications (and now broadcasters). This is why you hear the like of Owen Jones repeatedly describing the Spectator and Guido as “far right”. They cherry pick a provocative article, or below the line comment, or the late night ramblings of one presenter to paint the overall output as unacceptable and, crucially, dangerous for the brands of advertisers. They also try to frame the content as “disinformation”.
It works; Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic and the Conservative Woman website are defunded of advertising. Google, which dominates automated programmatic advertising, has effectively blacklisted their content – primarily for airing dissident views over Covid measures. Whatever your view of their content, this is unhealthy for democracy. During the pandemic, Guido’s YouTube account was locked by the algorithm when we featured content from Nadhim Zahawi – who was at the time the vaccines minister. Ditto when we featured an interview with Donald Trump by Nigel Farage where Trump disputed the presidential election outcome. Twitter deplatformed the New York Post during that same presidential election for breaking the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. It was alleged – falsely – that it was a Russian intelligence operation. Hunter is now facing related charges evidenced by content found on the laptop. It can’t be good for democracy to have tech platforms censoring content in response to political pressure.
The insidious campaign to defund right-of-centre media by left-wing campaigns claims that expressions of concern about immigration or trans-ideology and children are “hate-think”. The left despises The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Spectator, GB News and Guido because we take robust editorial lines that effectively damage their causes. As well as the public campaigns like “Stop Funding Hate”, they are working behind the scenes with tech giants like Microsoft and Google to algorithmically defund voices they don’t like. Unaccountable organisations like Microsoft-backed NewsGuard are institutionally structured to rig the findings against right-of-centre media. They then market their findings (“BrandGuard“) to advertising agencies who are keen to avoid their adverts appearing next to jihadi beheading videos. Under the guise of “brand safety” they algorithmically blacklist mainstream right-of-centre media by bracketing them in with real hateful sites as a “brand risk”. Remember the Spectator – Co-op spat?
Debanking of individuals and defunding of media outlets are on the logistics frontline of the culture war. The 46 parliamentarians write that “Just as banks shouldn’t determine who their customers are on the basis of their political opinions, so too we must not tolerate any company discriminating according to people’s political views.” In their letter senior Conservatives say that the UK’s five major ad agencies (Dentsu, WPP, Publicis, Interpublic Group, and Omnicom) have “taken the unprecedented step of creating for themselves an ‘opt out’” from “certain Ofcom-regulated TV channels” (presumably they mean GB News). They urge the government to bring together UK advertising agencies, industry trade bodies, and the industry regulator, to “end this discrimination once and for all”. They also urge the government to distance itself from the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), and to ensure that “its politically motivated activists are kept well away from government policy”. CAN responds, perhaps with their tongue in cheek, with an argument designed to appeal to free marketeers: “The proposal for state intervention in the advertising industry called for in this letter is anti-freedom and anti- choice. Advertisers should be allowed to make commercial decisions that grow their brands, and by extension, the British economy.” Guido’s guess is that if advertisers knew they were being hoodwinked, they would shy away from these campaigns. No one wants to go the way of Bud Light…