On any given day, you can find Steve Bannon sitting in his sweaty chair in an unknown location, barking for hours into a camera and mic on his livestream show, War Room Pandemic.
But on January 5th 2021, Bannon was sitting in a real-life war room — in a suite in The Willard Hotel in Washington DC — plotting a last-ditch effort to deny Joe Biden the presidency. We now know that Steve “flood the zone with shit” Bannon wasn’t just talking shit. For months, his podcast was a bullhorn for the lies and grievances that boiled over and became an attempted coup on January 6th.
The coup failed, but Bannon successfully validated an idea: That they could groom a significant portion of the American population to not accept an outcome of the election unless they say so — and to take up arms when called to action. He had found a way to ensure that no election will ever go uncontested again, giving him an unlimited source of fodder to pick apart for his audience.
Bannon is not alone. The upper ranks of American election disinformation also include Charlie Kirk, Glenn Beck, Dan Bongino, Tucker Carlson, and Tim Pool — “The J6” — the six loudest proponents of The Big Lie.
These six men are extremists. They’ve repeatedly expressed support for the views of white nationalists. They’re power-hungry bullshitters. But above all, they’re profiteers holding our democratic process hostage for the sake of their bank accounts.
It’s working. Roughly 1 in 3 Americans believes ‘The Big Lie’, the conspiracy theory that Biden won the election due to voter fraud. Nearly two out of three Republicans believe Biden stole the election. This conspiracy paves the road for the next insurrection.
But what is unclear to us is why the advertising industry is still sending ads to them as though it’s just business as usual — programmatically sending millions of dollars that fund the production of election disinformation either directly or through middlemen.
Today, we are launching the first effort to permanently block these individuals who incited the January 6th insurrection from the ad industry, one of their most critical sources of revenue.
There’s a reason the websites belonging to the J6 are packed with ads. Digital advertising is an ATM for them, a blank check for their wildest conspiracies.
How does this happen? Ad exchanges. This behind-the-scenes industry exists to serve ads across “carefully curated” websites on behalf of advertisers. In reality, it’s a money grab. They spray $400B in ads (and counting!) across every corner of the internet. Those who push the most viral and manipulative content go home with the most money.
Most advertisers never even find out their ads are sponsoring individuals they would find repulsive, unless someone takes a screenshot and sends it to them.
This is making some insurrectionists very rich. They’re being given a license to collect ad dollars from nearly every business in America with an advertising budget. This unchecked system has become a guaranteed source of unlimited revenue for the bad guys.
The Big Lie has become big business! But that’s fundamentally incompatible with:
Ad exchanges promise advertisers they’re watching out for them — no ads near anything that promotes violence — but here we are.
Ad exchanges know they shouldn’t be doing business with toxic individuals and outlets, but again and again they keep doing it until they’re caught.
In 2016, Breitbart planned to expand its operations off an expected $8M in ad revenue. But when the Sleeping Giants campaign began alerting advertisers of their placements, the pressure went up the ladder very quickly. Thirty one ad exchanges pulled out, evaporating ninety percent of Breitbart’s bottom line. Bannon himself admitted the campaign put them in “tough financial shape.”
Today, many of the same ad exchanges that once dropped Breitbart still maintain direct business relationships with the J6 insurrectionists. This sends them millions of dollars of revenue, and creates reputational risks for their clients.
By doing this, they’re all violating their Terms of Agreement with their advertising clients.
We believe there’s a good reason each of these six individuals should be cut off from the advertising industry. Here they are.
“We're going to get to the bottom of three November and we're going to decertify the electors. OK? And you're going to have a constitutional crisis” — Steve Bannon, November 12, 2021
Steve Bannon is under investigation and is facing contempt charges from Congress for his refusal to cooperate with the January 6th House select committee. Members of Congress believe he may have been one of the key organizers.
Bannon runs War Room (warroom.org) (which streams on Real America’s Voice) and a ring of trash dispensaries dressed up as media outlets. After the November 2020 election, he repeatedly used his show to beat The Big Lie like a drum. We now know that Bannon, along with Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Boris Ephsteyn coordinated with the White House on ways to delay certification of the election in the days before January 6. Coincidentally, he had them all on War Room too, where they promoted the idea of “widespread voter fraud” and “cheating.” Bannon straight up called the election “illegal.”
Bannon has repeatedly been booted from and then crawled back into the advertising supply chain by opening up new websites, including Populist Press, which was only just recently demonetized by Google Ads after a November 2021 ProPublica article caught them doing it.
Just weeks ago, he pledged to take over the entire “election apparatus” in the United States.
Real America’s Voice (Americasvoice.news): Google, Unruly Media, Pubmatic, Xandr, OpenX, RhythmOne, TripleLift, Media.Net
Rumble: IndexExchange, OpenX, Google, Xandr, Yahoo, Amazon, Sovrn, FreeWheel, Pubmatic, MediaNet
“We had an election with unbelievably suspect behavior.” — The Dan Bongino Show, January 7, 2021
Dan Bongino will be familiar to readers of BRANDED. Bongino “leads the MAGA field in stolen-election messaging,” and has been an enthusiastic J6 water carrier, providing a cushy safe space for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani to push The Big Lie.
Bongino lost a handful of ad exchanges when we reported on his antics in BRANDED back in November (Dan Bongino is begging to be cancelled). That said, he’s got a few more to lose.
Bongino has 2.4 million followers on Twitter and 4.8 million followers on Facebook. All his hate-bait posts on social media lead to his websites Bongino.com and BonginoReport.com. Throughout 2021, you could find him on his show shouting about election fraud.
He has already been dropped by Criteo, Quantcast, GumGum, Sharethrough, NextRoll, and Unruly (Thanks for doing the right thing, folks!).
Rumble (Bongino has an equity stake): IndexExchange, OpenX, Google, Xandr, Yahoo, Amazon, Sovrn, FreeWheel, Pubmatic, MediaNet
Bongino.com: Mantis Ads, Sortable (Freestar), Magnite, Xandr, Pubmatic
BonginoReport.com: 33Across, Sortable (Freestar), Magnite, Xandr, Pubmatic
“It is time to fight. It is time to rip and claw and rake. It is time to go to war, as the left went to war four years ago.” — Glenn Beck, January 4, 2021
Glenn Beck and TheBlaze, the network he founded that platforms Big Lie spreaders like Mark Levin and Steven Crowder, is a critical node in the J6 disinformation campaign. Beck is a former Fox host and prolific conspiracy theorist who has been enthusiastic about seeding disinformation and causing confusion about the insurrection.
Stoking the division and rewriting history, Glenn Beck used his January 12 appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to cast Twitter and Facebook as “Nazis.” In this twisted scenario, Capitol Hill rioters were Europe’s Jews.
Multiple BlazeTV hosts have joined Beck to spread election disinformation. Steven Crowder hyped the disproved story about ballots supposedly being carried on a small wagon into the counting room at the TCF Center in Detroit. Meanwhile, Mark Levin repeatedly endorsed and urged on Trump’s legal challenges against the election results.
BlazeTV videos undermining the integrity of our election process have accumulated nearly 1.4 million views combined. One August 13 clip from BlazeTV amassed over 1.3 million views and was the highest viewed right-leaning YouTube video about mail-in voting posted between March 1 and August 31.
TheBlaze: Revcontent, Quantcast, AnyClip, Google, InfoLinks, Pubmatic, Xandr, Next Millennium, OpenX, RhythmOne, Unruly Media, TripleLift, Smaato, Carambola, Triton Digital, Consumable, 33Across, Google, Amazon
“It now appears there actually was meaningful voter fraud in Fulton County, Georgia, last November. That is not a conspiracy theory. It's true.” —Tucker Carlson, July 14, 2021
Tucker Carlson is the most-watched host on cable TV news and the face of Fox News. He was one of the Fox hosts who pushed a voter fraud disinformation campaign that resulted in multiple billion dollar lawsuits from Symantec and Dominion Voting systems.
Carlson’s recent “Patriot Purge” series was a multi-million dollar project financed by Fox News. It’s been called “his most nakedly fascist piece of propaganda yet; an effort to misinform the public on who was responsible for the coup, and set the stage for the next one.
Carlson’s narrative is boosted by other Fox News hosts, including Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Brian Kilmeade who we now know repeatedly implored White House officials to act to quell the violence.
Later, Ingraham used her nightly show to mock and humiliate the Capitol Hill officers and downplay what happened on January 6.
Tucker Carlson has lost nearly every single one of his major advertisers following a major exodus led by Sleeping Giants (that was us!). But they still pull in advertising through their digital operations (FoxNews.com) and YouTube ads.
Fox News: Vimeo, YouTube ads, OpenWeb, Google, Amazon, TrustX, YieldMo, IndexExchange, TripleLift, TremorHub, Pubmatic, The Media Grid, Criteo, Media.Net, EMXDGT, Sonobi, OpenX, FreeWheel, Undertone, Xandr, Magnite, Yahoo Gemini, AdRoll, The Trade Desk
“Turning Point Action is being financially supportive of that rally. We are sending buses.” — Charlie Kirk, January 4, 2021
Charlie Kirk is the founder and President of Turning Point USA, a right-wing group that organizes on college campuses. This is an easy one. Kirk didn’t just promote election fraud conspiracies. He hired over 80 buses to bring the rioters to Capitol Hill. Correction on Jan 5, 2022: Charlie Kirk tweeted his group was going to send “80+ buses” to the January 6 protest. Afterwards the group admitted to sending seven buses with some 350 students.
One of those rioters went on to assault a Capitol police officer.
CharlieKirk.com: Google, Basis Technologies, Yahoo, Revcontent, OneMobile, MediaNet, OpenX, NextRoll, 33Across, Sovrn, RhythmOne, GumGum
Rumble: IndexExchange, OpenX, Google, Xandr, Yahoo, Amazon, Sovrn, FreeWheel, Pubmatic, MediaNet
“The right-wing militias, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, and just the Proud Boys and Trump supporters, they are going to rush full-speed to D.C. They are going to take the White House and do whatever they can and paramilitary.” — Tim Pool, September 2020
Tim Pool is a right-wing media newbie. He emerged as a “citizen journalist” during Occupy Wall Street and now has over a million followers across three YouTube channels. He has collaborated with Alex Jones and Joe Rogan.
Pool likely had insider knowledge of violence on Capitol Hill — and continued to promote Stop The Steal anyway. His profits have gone through the roof: He has 11 videos in the top 100 most watched YouTube videos that promote vote-by-mail disinformation. These videos have received approximately 2.6 million combined views.
Tim Pool is proud to trumpet his success (“I think its important to point out that I'm rich and its not a secret”). He’s done this by promoting The Big Lie.
TimCast.com: Google, Zeta Global, Simpli.fi, RhythmOne, Magnite. Sovrn, Conversant, Sharethrough, Just Premium. Pubmatic, 33Across, Undertone, YieldMo, Mantis, Smart Ad Server, Unruly, Media Grid. Spring Serve, Acuity
There’s a reason individuals like Bannon crawl back into the advertising supply chain every chance they get. The money’s too good to give up — and the ad industry has never fully cut them off. Since Sleeping Giants, we have followed him down the rabbit hole, and caught the ad industry working with him as he burrows from outlet to outlet.
This time, we’re getting the job done for good — with your help. Defund the Insurrectionists is our most ambitious initiative yet and it’s a TEAM EFFORT.
There are two ways for you to make this a success:
1. Sign up for our emails. When you sign up for our emails, this is what you’ll get over the next month:
2. Contribute to our fund. We’re Check My Ads Institute, and we’re doing things differently. This initiative and every future one will be made possible by your financial support.
3. Most importantly, Follow our campaign.
Visit checkmyads.org/j6 right now.
Let’s do this ????
Claire and Nandini
Check My Ads Institute is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.