In a rather savvy political move, the Trump campaign bought a ton of ad space on The Washington Post’s digital website. It is not likely a coincidence that this big buy occurred on the final day of the Democratic National Convention just as it was no accident that President Trump flew to Scranton, PA, for a campaign rally. But it was the ads – not the in-your-face stop at Joe Biden’s hometown – that had those on the left going postal.
“No, @washingtonpost, no, no NO. How dare you? Were these pieces of silver worth the price of your soul?” tweeted one incensed Biden supporter. Others waxed incredulous that the capital city’s influential legacy newspaper would dare to permit the Trump campaign to purchase ad space. “I’m so shocked and disappointed,” read one tweet. Then from someone called Snickers, “OMG. @washingtonpost what have you done? Judas would be so proud. Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.” And yet another pro-Biden tweet, “The Washington Post thoroughly disgraced itself today. Hope the money was worth it.”
It didn’t take long for the obvious to happen – calls to boycott The Washington Post for daring to do what all newspapers do to stay afloat – take ad money. Stephen L. Miller thundered, “IMPORTANT THREAD – The Wash Post has gone full MAGA and must be boycotted. Their writers must be held to account and subscriptions cancelled.”
However, it didn’t take long in the wild west that is Twitter for the Trump people to push back. “Standby. We have a liberal temper tantrum in progress,” tweeted Ann McPherson. Kurt Schlichter chimed in, “How dare people allow other people to advertise without your approval of the message.” Then from Tarzan, “Liberal breakdown live. We are forced to see so many biased neolibtards, but when it’s from the other side (elected president btw) then they have these breakdowns like small kids. @ianbremmer put it spot on: free press and rule of law.”
Without a doubt, the ad buy was big and bold. In what Trump himself would refer to as “huge,” the most expensive ad space in the newspaper business dominated the digital front page – above the fold, no less. The message lit up WaPo with a backdrop of violence and urban mayhem. Superimposed over the center of the picture is a photo of the Democratic nominee looking confused next to his vice presidential pick Kamala Harris, who is hysterically laughing. Over on the left of the ad is an eye-catching tagline in all caps: “The Radical Leftist Takeover of Joe Biden is Complete.” Should a reader dare to click on the advertisement, the Trump campaign had more goodies in store. Scrolling on the top were a few not so subtle messages: “Biden Kneels to the Left. China Joe: Voted for Most Favored Nation Status for China. Sleepy Joe: Wrong for America.”
There appears to be a grown-up real-world truth that some of these folks in the Twitter-verse do not seem to understand. Newspapers exist to sell ads. Period. Full Stop. Telling The Washington Post to refuse the Trump campaign a targeted ad buy is akin to pulling the plug on its respirator. Should those on the left not be able to handle the rigors of a political campaign by being exposed to another point of view, all they have to do is invest in an ad blocker for their computer. It works like a charm.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.