LA Weekly Loses Advertisers in Protest of New Conservative Owners

Semanal Media, the company’s new owner, is made up largely of Republican donors

LA Weekly has lost at least five advertisers or sponsors in response to a protest of its new conservative-leaning ownership. Also Tuesday, UC Berkeley Law School dean Erwin Chermerinsky tells TheWrap that he has backed out of plan to invest in the publication.

Semanal Media, the company’s new owner, is made up largely of Republican donors, OC Weekly has previously reported. Their backgrounds, and the decision to fire most of LA Weekly’s previous staff, has led to a boycott effort led by former music columnist Jeff Weiss and ex-film critic April Wolfe.

“The shadowy investment group behind Semanal Media is free to start their own paper to represent their interests but it’s unacceptable to think that they can cravenly purchase a historically left-leaning newspaper to exploit almost 40 years of accrued goodwill to further their own well-documented ultra-conservative agenda,” Weiss told TheWrap. “Moreover, the staggering incompetence and disrespect they’ve shown for the paper and the city of Los Angeles is unconscionable.

He specifically called out Semanal head Brian Calle, a newspaper executive who has worked for the conservative Claremont Institute. He noted that Semanal’s leaders have Orange County ties.

“If they think this is a brief tempest of Twitter outrage, they’re sorely mistaken. The city of Los Angeles has too rich of a culture and tradition to be cheapened by these bumbling carpetbaggers with no local ties. They can’t fool us.  They can’t win. And Brian Calle will never be a big baller,” he said.

Calls to LA Weekly went unanswered, and Calle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mello Music Group director of operations Michael Tolle told TheWrap that it stopped advertising with the paper.

“The LA Weekly’s journalists and editorial team were a major reason we advertised with them,” Tolle wrote. “To see the staff fired without notice for no wrongdoing on their part after years of great writing & editing, felt wrong. Add to it what appears to be a politically motivated agenda to silence particular opinions and it goes against everything we stand for as a record label.”

“Otium will no longer participate in Sips & Sweets. There are a lot of questions about what LA Weekly will look like moving forward and until we know more we’re going to focus on other events,” added downtown Los Angeles restaurant Otium.

Tarzana-based artisanal ice cream vendor Wanderlust Creamery also confirmed that it has pulled out of the event. “While my partner & I refrain from agreeing or disagreeing with the negative backlash about the new LA Weekly, we are weary of being part of an event for an organization that is surrounded by so much scrutiny & negativity,” Adrienne Borlongan, Wanderlust chef said in a statement provided to TheWrap.

Downtown music venue Resident told TheWrap it was pulling out of the event and cutting ads effective next week. Amoeba Records also said it would cut ties:

Other sponsors and advertisers who have said they are leaving the LA Weekly include Art Don’t Sleep.