Off Brand

The Real Reason So Many Companies Are Ditching Trump

Corporate America’s sudden change of heart has less to do with politics and more to do with chaos

Rob Walker
Marker
Published in
3 min readJan 11, 2021

--

A big mat with a photograph of United States president Donald Trump
A mat with a photographic print as part of the ‘Jump Trump’ photo installation by artists Thomas Mailaender and Erik Kessels. Photo: Ander Gillenea/AFP/Getty Images

We appear to be living through an unparalleled moment — a turning point, perhaps — in the relationship between business and the political system. The big social media companies de-platformed the president; Apple, Google, and Amazon effectively crippled the hard-right Twitter knockoff Parler by taking away its access to app stores and web hosting; and payment processor Stripe has pulled its service from Trump’s campaign website. And that’s just the beginning.

This goes beyond the imperative for companies and brands to leave behind the usual stay-neutral, apolitical business tradition and articulate a point of view that I discussed mere days ago. These are examples of major enterprises demonstrating genuine power. You can see why some observers see the development as potentially unnerving: Does this reflect a new and rawly partisan attitude from business?

Actually, that’s not really what’s going on here. Sure, “business” writ large has a bias, but it’s not a monolithic pro-Democrat or anti-Republican one. It’s anti-chaos.

And to understand how sweeping that bias is, consider one of the more overlooked corporate dictums of recent days: Cumulus Media, employer of Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, and other popular hard-right talk-show stars, “has told its on-air personalities to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from President Trump — or else face termination,” according to the Washington Post.

When a business largely built around courting outrage starts issuing orders to dial it back, that’s not because of some ideological shift or political epiphany. It’s because of a recognition that outright chaos is bad for the bottom line.

You don’t have to be a financial wizard to determine that the spectacle of armed maniacs looting government buildings and leaving death and desecration in their wake is not accretive to earnings.

--

--