The Daily Beast Joins 'The Loyal Opposition.' Is That Good for Business?

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The Daily Beast's website.
The Daily Beast's website. Credit: The Daily Beast
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At 2:40 a.m. on Wednesday morning, after Donald Trump had been declared the president-elect, Daily Beast Editor John Avlon published "How The Daily Beast Will Stand Up to President Donald Trump."

"We will count ourselves members of the loyal opposition -- loyal to the United States of America and opposed to the policies proposed by the president-elect during his campaign," wrote Mr. Avlon, a CNN contributor.

He said he wants Mr. Trump to succeed as president, but made clear that he doesn't have high hopes. "We have survived terrible presidents before," he wrote. "We will survive a President Trump."

Daily Beast President Mike Dyer said he doesn't see the post as anti-Trump. Rather, he said, it is pro-American values. And he predicted that it will be good for business, though "not from a political right-left perspective."

"Advertisers don't come to us for one particular party affiliation or the other," Mr. Dyer told Ad Age, when asked if the "loyal opposition" declaration might turn off right-leaning brands and institutions. "What advertisers do come to us for is the fact that we do original reporting, and unfortunately that is a scarcer commodity than it ever has been online."

The post, he said, was an extension of the Daily Beast's strategy. "We have always prided ourselves on being independent and nonpartisan and that continues now," he said.

That strategy has been remunerative: Mr. Dyer said revenue is up nearly 50% in 2016, compared to last year, due in part to a surge of interest in politics and the elections.

Over the last few months, he said, advertisers have shown more willingness to advertise around hard news, bucking a historical tendency to favor environments that are more brand-safe, like entertainment content.

As for whether the Daily Beast has any limitations on the type of advertising it accepts, Mr. Dyer said "there would certainly be lines that we wouldn't cross."

BuzzFeed, in June, ended an advertising relationship with the Republican National Committee in protest of Mr. Trump's rhetoric. "We certainly don't like to turn away revenue that funds all the important work we do across the company," CEO Jonah Peretti wrote in a staff memo at the time. "However, in some cases we must make business exceptions: we don't run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won't accept Trump ads for the exact same reason."

BuzzFeed spokeswomen have not yet returned a request for comment about whether Mr. Peretti has amended that stance in light of Mr. Trump's election.

The Huffington Post has taken an editorial -- rather than business-side -- position on Mr. Trump's presidency, appending an editor's note to articles about him that described him as "a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther." (Arianna Huffington, who stepped down as editor in September, has long been a fierce critic of Mr. Trump.)

But the publication has already sought to turn the page since Mr. Trump's election by removing the note from stories about him. "Whether we like it or not -- and let's continue to be honest, we don't -- he won the election," Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim wrote Wednesday.

The Huffington Post does not have limits on advertising, but does not allow hate speech and reserves the right to pull ads that violate company policy, a source with knowledge of the situation said. "Determination of suitability of any given issue or advertisement is at the sole discretion of AOL," according to parent company AOL's advertising guidelines.

Despite the decision to pull down the editor's note, it's probably fair to say that The Huffington Post is not likely to see big-ticket advertisements from conservative causes in the near future.

People magazine also seems to be grappling with how to cover Mr. Trump. A fluffy story yesterday -- "27 Photos of Ivanka Trump and Her Family That Are Way Too Cute" -- raised some eyebrows, considering that People writer Natasha Stoynoff had in October recounted a 2005 incident in which she said Mr. Trump kissed her without her consent.