I think about Linda Yaccarino a lot. She gave up a career in a powerful position where she was well-respected to be in charge of the internet’s most antisemitic goat rodeo. Was it hubris that made her believe she could right the ship? Is she such good friends with Elon Musk that she believed he’d take whatever advice she had to give regarding advertisers and brand safety? Whatever magic she thought she would wield over Musk and the platform formerly known as Twitter, it’s not working. Advertisers have finally started to take notice.
Last week Media Matters for America released a report documenting ad placement for a number of major companies next to pro-Nazi content. A lot of those advertisers suspended their campaigns on the platform after Elon decided to boost an X post that seems to support The Great Replacement Theory.
Musk decided this was all Media Matters’s fault and threatened to sue them. He hasn’t filed that suit yet. Now Yaccarino has followed up with a tray of cyanide-laced punch for X’s remaining employees to drink. A note the CEO sent out on Sunday night read, in part
While some advertisers may have temporarily paused investments because of a misleading and manipulated article, the data will tell the real story. Because for all of us who work at X, we’ve been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination, as there’s no place for it anywhere in the world,
Anyone with eyes and two brain cells to rub together has been aware of X’s Nazi problem. Any suit Musk tries to bring against Media Matters will not work out the way he thinks it will. This is probably why he hasn’t filed one yet, despite promising to do so as soon as the courts opened today.
Meanwhile, Yaccarino has handed the keys to the lucrative political advertising business over to her son, Matt Madrazo. He is also an ad sales veteran, and he’s courting Republican digital advertising firms and spenders. His partner in all of this, Jonathan Phelps (formerly of Univision and Pandora), has been tasked with trying to lure Democratic dollars to the platform. I’m sure we all wish him good luck with that task.
In 2019 X stopped allowing political ads, but since they’ve lost all of their other advertisers, and political ad spend is projected to break $10 billion next year they decided to ease back on that restriction. The official line is that “cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics.” We all know it’s the money.
Yaccarino isn’t without friends in the advertising world, though. According to Forbes, a number of advertising executives have tried to stage an intervention of sorts, questioning her reasons for sticking with X and pushing her to make a real statement against racism and antisemitism by stepping down as CEO. She has not yet responded to this well-reasoned argument. I suspect she never will.
The Forbes article also cites a source who claims Linda Yaccarino has “political aspirations,” which is both sad and terrifying. Even if she stepped down from X today, that she has spent so much time and energy defending Musk and his failing platform shows a terrible lack of decency as well as common sense. It’s also a good indication that she’d fall in among the far-right sh*t-stirrers. We don’t need any more of those.