Ad execs encourage X CEO Linda Yaccarino to quit after Elon Musk's antisemitic embrace
By Clare Duffy and Oliver Darcy, CNN
New York (CNN) — A “groundswell” of advertising executives have urged X chief executive Linda Yaccarino to resign from her role at the embattled social media company in the wake of an advertiser exodus and scrutiny over owner Elon Musk’s antisemitic remarks on the platform, according to marketing industry veteran Lou Paskalis.
“I sent her a text yesterday after thinking about it long and hard saying that,” Paskalis, the founder and chief executive of marketing consultancy AJL Advisory, told CNN on Monday, adding that other members of the industry had done the same. “My advice was to leave before her reputation was damaged.”
Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal executive, joined the company formerly known as Twitter earlier this year to help revive its advertising business. Hundreds of major brands paused their ad spend after Musk’s acquisition over concerns about content moderation and the platform’s future under the eccentric billionaire.
But at least a half dozen major advertisers, including media giants Disney, Paramount and NBCUniversal, halted their spending on X on Friday. IBM also suspended advertising on the platform after its ad appeared alongside pro-Nazi content. The decisions to drop the platform followed criticism of Musk over his public embrace of an antisemitic conspiracy theory favored by White supremacists.
“She thinks quitting is failing … She believes that she can mother Elon Musk into someone who could be respected by the advertising community, and that ship has definitely sailed,” Paskalis said. “But she’s not going to come off the mechanical bull without all of us telling her, ‘It’s time to go.’ And I believe that there has been a groundswell of a lot of people such as myself saying, ‘save yourself.’”
Yaccarino has indicated that, for now, she’s not going anywhere.
“I believe deeply in our vision, our team, and our community,” she posted Monday morning on the platform. “I’m also deeply committed to the truth and there is no other team on earth working as hard as the teams at X.”
In a letter to employees sent Sunday night, which was viewed by CNN, Yaccarino also reaffirmed her commitment to the company’s work.
“Our work is critical, but it’s not always easy,” she said. “What we’re doing matters, which means it naturally invites criticism from those who do not share our beliefs.”
Yaccarino has also said that X has taken steps to “combat antisemitism and discrimination,” as she told employees in the Sunday letter. The company over the weekend accused Media Matters — the progressive media watchdog that first reported that ads for IBM and other major brands were running alongside pro-Nazi content — of aggressively searching for such content in a way that “misrepresented the real user experience” and could “mislead advertisers.” (Media Matters has pushed back on this assertion.)
However, X did not remove the pro-Nazi accounts mentioned in Media Matters’ report, instead saying that their posts had little engagement and that they would no longer be eligible for monetization.
“No critic will ever deter us from our mission to protect free speech,” Yaccarino said in the Sunday letter.
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