Breitbart News has unleashed a full-scale campaign against Kellogg Co. after the food manufacturer announced that it was discontinuing ads on the alt-right website because it is not “aligned with our values as a company.”
On Wednesday, Breitbart kicked off an online boycott with the hashtag #DumpKelloggs, which briefly became the top-trending term on Twitter in the U.S. As of Thursday at 11 a.m. PT, Breitbart claims more than 145,000 people have signed its online petition against the company. The site has created an image showing all of Kellogg’s brands.
In addition, Breitbart News on Thursday featured on its homepage an eight-month-old story, headlined “Criminal Investigation Opened After Man Appears to Urinate on Kellogg’s Cereal Assembly Line,” citing a video allegedly recorded in 2014 at a Kellogg facility in Memphis, Tenn. It also posted an item Thursday with the headline, “#DumpKelloggs: Minority Employees Accuse Kellogg’s of Racism, Subjecting Them to N-Word, Photo of a Baboon,” citing an Oct. 27 report by NBC Rhode Island affiliate WJAR, after posting this on Wednesday: “SHOCK: Amnesty International Blasts Kellogg’s for Using Child Labor-Produced Ingredients.”
Breitbart — which critics accuse of producing a virulent stream of racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic material — has come under new scrutiny after executive chairman Steve Bannon joined Donald Trump’s campaign as CEO, and since has been tapped as chief strategist and senior counselor to the president-elect. Bannon has said he is taking an extended leave of absence from Breitbart and will have no involvement with the company during his tenure in the Trump administration.
While other advertisers including Allstate and Warby Parker have also pulled ads from Breitbart, so far Kellogg appears to be the sole target of the far-right site.
Asked for comment on Breitbart’s actions, Kellogg VP of global communications Kris Charles said in a statement, “To be clear, our decision had nothing to do with politics. We regularly work with our media-buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren’t aligned with our values as set forth in our advertising guidelines.” She said the company heard from consumers that Kellogg’s ads were placed on Breitbart.com and decided to discontinue advertising there.
Breitbart staffers have denounced the move by the company. “For Kellogg’s, an American brand, to blacklist Breitbart News in order to placate left-wing totalitarians is a disgraceful act of cowardice,” editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow wrote on the site.
Stories on Breitbart.com have included such pieces as “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” “Roger Stone: Huma Abedin ‘Most Likely a Saudi Spy’ With ‘Deep, Inarguable Connections’ to ‘Global Terrorist Entity,’” “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews,” and “The Solution to Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”
In an interview last month with the Wall Street Journal, Bannon admitted that the alt-right movement has “some racial and anti-Semitic overtones.” But he said Breitbart’s definition of the alt-right is “younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist, terribly anti-establishment.”
Breitbart claims to have 45 million readers. According to comScore, in October 2016, the site had 19.2 million unique U.S. visitors for the month.
Kellogg, with 2015 sales of $13.5 billion, is the world’s leading cereal producer and the second-largest producer of cookies, crackers and savory snacks. Its brands include Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K, Keebler, Pringles, Pop-Tarts, Cheez-It, Eggo, Nutri-Grain, Kashi and Morningstar Farms.
Twitter, meanwhile, has taken steps to block alt-right users from its service, including Breitbart contributor Milo Yiannopoulos after he engaged in online harassment of actress and comedian Leslie Jones.