Matt Rivitz, founder of Sleeping Giants, an online activist group focused on bringing down Breitbart News, recently appeared on CNN. His group targets companies whose ads appear on the news right-leaning website and tells the advertisers that they are working with an organization that promotes bigotry and hatred. The targeted companies pull their advertising because they do not want to be associated with bigotry.
The problem? Breitbart News does not promote bigotry.
To be fair, the news organization has published stories with racy headlines. Indeed, many past contributors to the site have used the platform to generate controversy. However, it is important to note that Breitbart has moved away from this type of reporting making the Sleeping Giants’ accusations invalid.
CNN Hosts Sleeping Giants
In an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Rivitz was asked about the group and its fixation on Breitbart News. John Avlon — sitting in for Brian Stelter — asked Rivitz why he started the campaign. “Right after the 2016 election I was pretty disgusted with the tenor of the rhetoric coming out just everywhere in the news and seemed very racist to me and bigoted, and just everything was seeming really inflammatory,” he answered.
Rivitz explained that after looking at Breitbart News, he was “really curious as to who was supporting this from an ad perspective.” When he saw the number of companies whose ads appeared on the site, he decided to do something about it. So, he created an anonymous Twitter account and began informing these companies that their ads were appearing on a site that promoted hate towards specific groups of people. He claims that most of these companies “get back right away and they’re really happy that we let them know.”
Avlon did question the consequences of such a campaign; he asked Rivitz if this could result in a slippery slope in which Americans on both sides of the political spectrum would use these types of tactics to shut down views with which they disagree. Rivitz responded:
“We’ve tried to keep things really polite, and we let the advertisers know in a polite way. We don’t feel like we’re forcing them to do anything they react and then they thank us for letting them know. It is a slippery slope; I think social media is a little bit of a slippery slope. They need to really determine what their terms of service are and they need to enforce them equally across the board. And so, that’s been our biggest beef lately is that they’re not being consistent and I think everyone is having a problem with that. So that would go a long way — for us all to know what the rules are and how to follow them.”
So basically, Rivitz seems to be arguing that if they are polite when they’re lying to these companies, they are justified. It is worth pointing out that he acknowledges that social media companies are not being consistent with the types of individuals they target, but he stops short of admitting that this behavior is disproportionately directed against conservatives.
LN’s Brush With Sleeping Giants
This story is not the first time Liberty Nation has covered the Sleeping Giants. Last year, we published a piece about the organization, which prompted a lively Twitter debate with the founder. We called out the organization for using deception to push companies to remove their advertising, and also took issue with the fact that the campaign purports to oppose bigotry, but would not take on organizations that espouse anti-white racism.
The conversation was a civil one, and it highlighted the fact that Sleeping Giants primarily targets Breitbart News and neglects other publications. It came off as disingenuous then, and it does now.
Have They Been Successful?
Sleeping Giants claims that it has convinced over 4,000 companies to pull their advertising from Breitbart News. CNN declared that the news site’s traffic has steadily declined over the past two years, attributing this supposed decrease to the activist group. However, the facts say something different.
CNET published a piece last year detailing the ineffectiveness of the various boycotting campaigns against Breitbart News. Wordstream, a prominent online advertising software company also examined the company’s numbers, stating that the number of companies that removed their advertising represents a fraction of the amount of revenue the company earns. “At best, we’re talking about removing a small share of all the advertisers that could possibly serve Breitbart,” said Mark Irvine, Senior Data Scientist and Analytical Lead at the company.
Breitbart News also affirms that the Sleeping Giants’ efforts have not made a dent in their business. “In fact, our traffic has risen steadily for the last several months, including a 20% increase in unique readers from July to August,” they write. “Breitbart news is currently ranked #62 among all websites in the United States, according to Alexa. But CNN viewers could not know that, because no one from Breitbart was invited to challenge the false information that was presented.”
Let’s face it. These attacks are not going to stop. The left will never cease trying to annihilate conservative opinions on the internet. Conservatives can’t afford to sit back and let the left have their way. They must be willing to fight back.
Conservatives can oppose these efforts by exposing them to the rest of the public. Most people aren’t aware of the lengths to which the left goes to eliminate dissent. Right-leaning Americans should use every means at their disposal to inform others of these stories. It is not likely that the majority of Americans would approve of the use of such tactics.
Perhaps it is time for conservatives to mobilize and launch their own campaigns. They would be wise to prevent the left from having a monopoly on using these strategies. Despite the efforts of the left to shut down conservatives on social media, conservatives still have a voice. Now is the time to use it.