In this case? 100% yes, Salon is in the wrong. I would say the same thing if they loaded Folding@home or the SETI distributed computing software as part of a partnership. You don't take over the compute resources of someone's equipment just because you are, for lack of a better word, desperate.
On top of that issue I have with this policy, Salon is shit. They are a left-leaning version of the Daily Mail focusing on outrage and shock to generate controversy to get hits. I am not going to blame Salon for that, however, EVERY DAMN MEDIA RESOURCE is doing that now. I do subscribe to a few magazines that offer what I would call Real journalism, and I will whitelist a site that has a history of not displaying infected adverts.
Right now in 2018 the main way computer viruses spread are infected emails and advertising networks. Since I exist in a world of PROTECT EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME yea, I use noscript, pi-hole and adblockers. I teach people how to do the same. I use pi-hole at work to protect my network and reduce my workload. The fracturing of the media landscape has done a number on media companies, but let us be really, really brutally honest for a second. They did this to themselves. Lowering standards, chasing clickbait, outrage as a business model, accusations as headlines, tabloid celebrity bullshit have chased people like me away. I want to know what is going on in the world, not what is going on in the head of whatever celebrity brand is being promoted this week. And I will defend myself against viruses, malware and infections... and not apologize for it.
I wish I had an answer but we are getting into a cart -vs- horse problem. Better reporting and writing, more long form investigations will get people like me to read your web site. Better control over the ads you run and tighter security on your website and ad networks will get me to unblock your ads. And those things cost money that they are not making right now because people like me are telling them to piss off and die.