Politics

US should get rid of all paid political advertising, billionaire media mogul Barry Diller says

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Key Points
  • Billionaire media mogul Barry Diller told CNBC on Thursday that he believes the U.S. should not have paid political advertising. 
  • "We should have a system where in fact the government subsidizes getting the message out," the IAC chairman said.
  • Diller also was highly supportive of Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign. 

Billionaire media mogul Barry Diller told CNBC on Thursday that he believes the U.S. should not have paid political advertising.

"What this country should do is get rid of all advertising for politics," the IAC chairman said on "Closing Bell." "We should have a system where in fact the government subsidizes getting the message out."

Diller has been supportive of publicly financed elections in the past, backing an effort in 2012 to bring them to New York State, but his comments take on new light given his support for Facebook's political advertising policy.

The social media company has been heavily criticized for its decision to not fact-check political ads on its platform, but Diller reiterated that he believes it is the right approach due to the difficulty of policing promotional speech.

"When you promote you tend to exaggerate both the negatives and the positives," he said Thursday, the same day Facebook released an updated policy that allows users to see fewer political ads.

Diller is a major Democratic donor and a staunch critic of President Donald Trump. He has labeled Trump an "evil miracle" and called his presidency a "joke."

Some states and municipalities in the U.S. already allow for public financing of elections — and presidential candidates have the option available to them, too. In fact, in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama was the first major party candidate to decline public financing since the system was created in 1976.

But candidates generally have to agree to certain restrictions, such as spending limits, which is why Obama said he opted against taking public money.

Lamenting the influence of money in politics, Diller said elected officials shouldn't have to spend significant portions of time fundraising. He also called the current political advertising landscape a "circus."

"The idea that you have money in politics is simply crackpot," Diller said, arguing it has "very, very, very bad consequences."

Diller made four political donations in 2019, according to Federal Election Commission records. Since 2006, Diller has contributed more than $1 million to various campaigns and organizations such as state Democratic parties, FEC records show.

Last year, he made $2,800 donations to the Democratic presidential campaigns of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Diller was highly complimentary Thursday of Buttigieg and Klobuchar's primary opponent, fellow billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"You couldn't have a better candidate" than Bloomberg," Diller said, citing his track record of success in politics and business. Bloomberg has already spent more than $100 million of his money on political ads.

Diller also contributed $2,800 to Lindsey Boylan, a Democrat who is running to unseat incumbent Rep. Jerry Nadler in New York's 10th District.

After leading Paramount Pictures and Fox, Diller established IAC. It is the holding company of internet brands such as video streaming service Vimeo. It also recently announced plans to spin off Match Group, which includes youth-oriented dating app Tinder.