What happens when a website that lives to shame “beta males” drops to zeta?
That’s what a dwindling number of observers are watching with Breitbart.com, the once-hot conservative news site which has lost 90% of its advertisers in the last two months. The site had 242 in March and now has 26, the Washington Post reports, citing media buyers’ data. The advertisers that are left include a strip club in Virginia, a golf resort in Spain and the conservative foundation Judicial Watch.
Frequently described as a haven for the “alt-right,” a term coined by prominent white nationalist (a.k.a. neo-Nazi) Richard B. Spencer, Breitbart was a major gathering place for Trump supporters during the election cycle. Guided by then-editor Steven Bannon, who is now President Trump’s chief strategist, Breitbart became a safe space for white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, who railed against inadequately militant “beta males” and “cuckservatives.”
From a peak of 23 million visitors in November 2016, the site’s traffic collapsed 53 percent by April 2017. Some attribute that to the enthusiasm gap between playing offense for a presidential candidate to improvising defense for the man in power. “If you’re Breitbart, you’re scrambling to explain or defend or continue to back the guy that you backed throughout the election,” a conservative news site editor told Vanity Fair. “And eventually, if your posture continues to just simply be reactive and trying to explain away things that are happening to or by the president, I think people slowly become sort of disheartened by politics.”
But in terms of advertising, the site cucked itself by its association with the openly racist alt-right, homophobes and misogynists. More than 2,200 companies, including Audi, Aveda, Black & Decker and Lufthansa, have told media buyers to pull their ads from Breitbart, according to Sleeping Giants, an anonymous activist group that is tracking online data. (Interestingly, one of those companies is betabrand, a source of “crowdfunded clothing.”)
But for Breitbart, there will always be strip clubs. And Judicial Watch. For now. “Liberal activists want to destroy Breitbart, but we won’t be cowed,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told the Post. “We advertise widely on the internet, and we’re proud of the relationship and the partnerships we have.”
“This is a good example of how advertisers have been suddenly shoved into the polarized political landscape,” David Carroll, a professor of media design at the New School, told the paper. “It’s a post-election reality the industry was not prepared for.”