I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be in Linda Yaccarino’s shoes these days. Not that I could afford them, nor likely fit into them. And I certainly couldn’t balance on a stiletto heel, nor rock them in any manner close to how she can.
But for someone who was hired from the legacy media world to bring her reputation and relationships to the social media “town square” now known as “X”, nee Twitter, in the last few days her job has morphed from challenging to existentially impossible.
All because she works for someone who is resolute, uncompromising and fanatical about what he considers to be “free speech”.
The DEADLINE troika of Ted Johnson, Dominic Patten and Dade Hayes reported at several different times yesterday on a series of declarations from companies Yaccarino has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising revenue from over her storied career–including a few she’s worked for. The seventh such report in approximately 48 hours dropped during last night’s dinner hour:
Looks like Sony Pictures has pulled the plug for now on any advertising on X/Twitter. In what is a rising tide, Sony is the latest Hollywood and tech company to leave the platform over X owner Elon Musk’s retweet of a distinctly anti-semitic post about 48 hours ago.
Here is the most recent list of the media companies confirmed to be pausing their ads on the social media platform so far:
Warner Bros Discovery
The Walt Disney Company
The suspensions come amid furor over X/Twitter owner Elon Musk’s amplification on Wednesday of an antisemitic post.
Media Matters first reported on the advertising of major brands appearing next to the pro-Nazi content. Among those cited were IBM, Apple, Comcast Xfinity, Oracle and Bravo. IBM announced on Thursday that it was freezing its advertising on X/Twitter.
And this all happened just as Marketwatch’s Robert Schroeder was reporting on how Washington, or at least the bastion of it still more interested in governing rather than grandstanding, was reacting:
The Biden administration on Friday slammed Elon Musk after the billionaire owner of X Corp. responded to a social-media post that promoted an antisemitic conspiracy, calling his reply “abhorrent.” “It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” said White House spokesman Andrew Bates.
So, nope, not the best week for any sales executive to perhaps be bullish in their quarterly revenue projections.
To her credit, Yaccarino has at least been trying to take the high road. In the wake of Musk’s initial endorsement of this inflammatory post Yaccarino took the platform herself to attempt to offer a voice of reason, per HUFFPOST’s David Moye:
On Thursday, Yaccarino tweeted that “X’s point of view has always been very clear that discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board” and added that she thinks “that’s something we can and should all agree on. When it comes to this platform — X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.”
But within a couple of hours of Sony’s announcement, Musk once again chose to put oil on a fire, all in the name of “free speech”, which, to him, can be sidestepped–for a price. The DEADLINE three pick up the story with their eighth update:
UPDATED, 7:40 P.M.: After a day that saw a dozen major advertisers put any spending on X/Twitter on hold over antisemitic amplification by Elon Musk, the man himself tweeted a seemingly not-so-subtile dig at those companies.
Promoting X/Twitter’s Premium service, the social media platform owner wrote, “Premium+ also has no ads in your timeline.” Musk then followed with what he may see as a selling point – true or not – for his ad-free service. “Many of the largest advertisers are the greatest oppressors of your right to free speech.”
The fact that Musk shows little interest in being any more than an incideniary troll playing to the emotional whims of people hell-bent of offering their opinions is not surprising, and at least for now he has more than enough FU money to do so.
But these days, opinions that differ from a preferred narrative are apparently the order of the day. The discourse between those that support Israelis or Palestinian viewpoints at the expense of completely discounting the other has amplified as well, and the New “Woke” TIMES appears to many to be as determined to be a town square for both viewpoints as many perceive X to be.
So much so that it has driven some prominent contributors to a publication that has built its reputation on its extensive coverage of the arts and world politics to leave, most recently yesterday’s announcement from a name familiar to those who regularly listen to Times podcasts (hand raised). Per FOX News’ Joseph Wulfsohn:
“I have resigned as poetry editor of The New York Times Magazine,” Anne Boyer announced in a Substack post. “The Israeli state’s U.S-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone. There is no safety in it or from it, not for Israel, not for the United States or Europe, and especially not for the many Jewish people slandered by those who claim falsely to fight in their names. Its only profit is the deadly profit of oil interests and weapon manufacturers.”
I can’t write about poetry amidst the “reasonable” tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering. No more ghoulish euphemisms. No more verbally sanitized hellscapes. No more warmongering lies.
If this resignation leaves a hole in the news the size of poetry, then that is the true shape of the present.
And this move on the heels of two others’ earlier in the week, including a telling one by a fellow Magazine contributor:
Boyer isn’t the first exit from the magazine as a result of the Israel-Hamas war. NYT Magazine writer Jazmine Hughes resigned after she was reportedly reprimanded for signing an open letter declaring Israel was guilty of “apartheid and genocide.” The open letter actually called out The New York Times by name, blasting its editorial board for writing “what Israel is fighting to defend is a society that values human life and the rule of law.”
Apartheid and genocide are apparently terms that someone like Elon Musk should be familiar with, given his South African lineage. The New York Times just announced some atypically encouraging financial results earlier this week, crossing the 10 million mark in subscribers. So they too appear to be in a decent enough financial position to support what they consider to be free speech. Even if it costs them some extremely intelligent words and their expressions in the process.
And college campuses, especially more intellectually-centric institutions in the Northeast, are being politically splintered by protests from supporters of both sides of the Israel-Gaza conflict. Despite increasing number of hate crimes and even death threats against Jewish communities, schools like Cornell, Yale and Harvard remain mum and unwilling to take any stand other than offer words of condemnation. One could note that they receive an awful lot of tuition money and contributions from families and scholars that insist on taking sides on this issue, and many of them do support the concept of “from the river to the sea”.
Words may have meaning, but they are a dime a dozen. And many of them are indeed bullsh-t. And we know how bullsh-t compares to money. One walks, one talks.
For the moment, it would appear, Elon Musk seems to be indifferent about the kind of money that his already underperforming cesspool of a social media site may lose as a result of his dedication to “free speech”. After all, that’s at least why he claimed he reached out to someone with Yaccarino’s experience and reputation to be his conduit to greater support and credibility. His actions and reactions of the past week would strongly suggest that, once again, those were just words.
And as for my onetime colleague “Yakko”, I would merely ask two questions:
1) Is your reported $20M annual salary inclusive of any sort of sales target, one you apparently will never be able to hit in this lifetime?
2) Is all of this aggravation and unwarrantly publicity truly worth it?
If principled people like Hughes and Boyer are willing to walk away from what they consider to be a bridge too far from their free speech-embracing employer, why do you continue to fight this fight for someone like Elon?
Perhaps one of the media organizations or advertisers that have gone on record in taking a “pause” might want to quietly offer someone as talented and as experienced as Yaccarino at least the possibility of a gig should she finally reach her breaking point?
Because, frankly, the pausing of your business alone isn’t moving Musk one inch. Losing Yaccarino and her collective relationships has a much stronger likelihood of mattering.
Musk didn’t get to this level of wealth on words. Science, perhaps. Emotion, certainly. And he doesn’t appear to be very interested in lengthy, wordy statements or debates. That may be the only significant differentiator between him and the New “Woke” TIMES.
So, Linda, if Jazmin and Anne can walk away, so can you. The sooner the better, IMO.
Your words are encouraging. Inspiring, to an extent. They resonate with me and, I suspect, plenty of those you deal with at the companies you’re now on a break with.
But they’re apparently not part of your boss’ first language. Time to speak in one he’s more likely to comprehend.