Thursday night, Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy obtained a memo from BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith simply titled “🇺🇸👀” reminding news division staff not take “partisan stands on social media” as they enter “the home stretch” of this year’s election.
Though BuzzFeed’s ethics guide has long prohibited news writers from “commenting in a partisan way about candidates or policy issues,” the timing of Thursday’s reminder couldn’t send a more obvious message: Tonight, when Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination as the first female presidential candidate of a major American political party, pretend like you aren’t hoping she defeats Donald Trump.
The directive seems especially strange given that BuzzFeed killed an advertising deal with the Republican National Committee last month after Donald Trump became their presumptive nominee. At the time, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti explained that the “Trump campaign is directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States and around the world.”
Thursday’s memo alluded to the company’s apparent Trump exception, Smith writing that this election is an unusual one “in which one candidate has, for instance, said things that can fairly be described as bigoted.”
“Readers are entitled to trust you less if they think you’re in the tank,” wrote Smith. “When in doubt, the ideal journalistic posture is: 👀”
Of course, it’s possible Smith is just worried staffers will choose this night to finally endorse Gary Johnson.