Conservative media outlets may not have Disney’s marketing budget, but they’re increasing their ad buys on X in a show of support for owner Elon Musk as the platform faces a jarring boycott from major brands.
Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon said the satirical site doubled its initial $250,000 pledge to $500,000 after Disney and other top companies pulled their ads, saying it’s “the max we can afford, but it’s the least we can do.”
“Others are joining us with substantial commitments, including [YouTube host] Tim Pool and The Daily Wire,” Mr. Dillon said in a Friday email to subscribers. “Even more impactful are the small contributions from thousands of individuals who are signing up for X Premium. We urge you to join them.”
Ben Shapiro, editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, said the outlet spent $250,000 for advertising on X to promote the release of its first feature-length comedy, “Lady Ballers,” which premiered Friday on DailyWire+.
He characterized the move as part of an ideological showdown between free-speech advocates and companies like Disney that are “doubling down on their own catastrophic woke strategies.”
“It’s a true clash of the titans,” Mr. Shapiro said on his Friday podcast. “While The Daily Wire doesn’t have Disney money — yet — we see what Elon is doing with X as one of the most important things actually happening in the culture today when it comes to preserving free speech.”
Other conservative influencers have jumped in, but their revenue is unlikely to fill what the news site Mashable called the “gaping revenue hole” left by the corporate pullout, given that Apple alone reportedly spends $100 million annually on X advertising.
Fortune 100 companies like Apple, Comcast, Disney, IBM and Walmart began suspending their advertising after two incidents: Mr. Musk’s Nov. 15 tweet agreeing with a post accusing Jewish communities of pushing “hatred against whites” and a Nov. 16 report by left-wing Media Matters for America alleging that X placed ads next to neo-Nazi tweets.
Mr. Musk denied the report and promptly sued Media Matters for defamation. The Tesla CEO also met last week with top Israeli leaders and hostage families in Jerusalem, vowing to wear a dog tag in support of the people kidnapped by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack until they’re released.
At The New York Times DealBook summit Wednesday, Mr. Musk apologized for his “foolish” tweet, saying, “it might be literally the worst and dumbest post I’ve done,” but also made it clear he wouldn’t beg advertisers to return, declaring “go f—— yourself.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger said at the summit that Disney suspended its ads because “we just felt the association with that position and Elon Musk and X was not necessarily a positive one for us,” which Mr. Shapiro called “ridiculous.”
“Disney is not pulling its advertising on X because of one of Elon Musk’s tweets, a tweet he then explained and apologized for,” said Mr. Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew and staunch supporter of Israel. “They are pulling their advertising because they are part of an advertiser cascade that is designed to pressure Elon Musk into doing their bidding.”
Disney pulling ads on X is anti-free speech and is designed to pressure Musk into doing their bidding.@realDailyWire’s $250k spend on X today to promote Lady Ballers won’t alone save X, but we must oppose those who seek to destroy free speech and support those trying to save it pic.twitter.com/CHzC1TjSZ0
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 1, 2023
Other conservative influencers have called for Musk backers to drop their Disney+ subscriptions, which prompted a wave of cancellations this week.
Mr. Shapiro agreed with Mr. Musk’s assessment that a prolonged advertising boycott could doom X, which he called “the only social media platform that allows and is attempting to even preserve free speech.”
“Who wouldn’t want to invest in that? Well, the answer apparently is Disney,” Mr. Shapiro said.
World’s Most Evil Corporations Worried X Might Tarnish Their Images https://t.co/SgqNS029WP pic.twitter.com/KJHdFT2NWZ
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) December 2, 2023
Mr. Musk, the world’s richest person, bought Twitter last year for $44 billion and renamed it X, vowing to end the platform’s shadow banning and censorship of conservative views.
His takeover came a few months after Twitter locked out The Babylon Bee for a satirical post declaring transgender Biden administration official Rachel Levine its Man of the Year.
Twitter said it would reinstate the account if the conservative Christian outlet deleted the tweet, but the Bee refused. Mr. Musk lifted the ban shortly after buying Twitter.
Mr. Dillon said that to win the free-speech fight, “we have to stop caring what freedom might cost us.”
“At one point we gave up our Twitter account because we refused to censor ourselves,” said Mr. Dillon. “That was a costly decision, but it was the right thing to do. And Musk is doing the right thing now, knowing full well it could end up crippling his company. We can’t stand by and let that happen.”