Washington’s Most Influential Newsletters Take Money From TikTok

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

James Lynch Contributor
Font Size:

Washington, D.C.’s most prominent newsletters among policymakers have placed ads from TikTok as the company negotiates with the Biden administration.

Axios AM and Politico Playbook, two newsletters read by influential D.C. figures, have placed advertisements from TikTok in February editions. Axios AM said it was presented by TikTok at the top of its Tuesday newsletter and Politico Playbook was presented by TikTok as recently as Feb. 19. (RELATED: Chinese Company Reportedly Linked To Genocide Is Sponsoring Washington’s Most Influential Newsletters)

Screen Shot 2023-02-21 at 3.36.59 PM

Screenshot of Axios AM on February 21, 2023.

Screen Shot 2023-02-21 at 3.37.16 PM

Screenshot of Politico Playbook on February 19, 2023.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a China-based tech firm with ties to the Chinese government. ByteDance and TikTok have over 300 employees with experience working for Chinese state media, according to Forbes Magazine. China-based ByteDance employees have allegedly monitored American TikTok users on multiple occasions, including a journalist who reported on TikTok users being surveilled, according to Forbes.

The Biden administration has been conducting a national security review of TikTok for more than two years because of concerns about the company’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the New York Times reported in September. Biden officials and TikTok have drafted a preliminary agreement for TikTok to continue operating in the U.S. without massive changes to its ownership structure.

Negotiations between TikTok and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in the Treasury Department have been delayed because of persistent fears about the platform’s recommendation algorithm and its trustworthiness, the Wall Street Journal reported. TikTok has agreed to create a U.S. user data subsidiary overseen by Oracle Corp. and a three person board of national security professionals, according to Reuters(RELATED: TikTok’s Security Protocols Won’t Prevent China From Spying On American Users, Analysts Warn)

ByteDance spent $5.3 million on federal lobbying in 2022, according to Open Secrets, and is expected to increase its lobbying expenditures in 2023 to combat bipartisan scrutiny, the New York Times reported.

Congress passed legislation to ban TikTok from government devices as part of the omnibus spending package passed in December. The move followed a wave of states that have banned TikTok from government devices because of national security concerns.

“No advertiser—or advertisement—affects or influences POLITICO’s journalism, editorial decision making, and news judgement,” a Politico spokesperson told the Daily Caller. “There is a strong firewall between POLITICO’s newsroom and its revenue generating business teams—a wall that applies in both directions. Our business and teams have no influence whatsoever on editorial content, and our reporters and editors have no input or role in our advertising or client relationships.”

Axios did not immediately respond to a request for comment.