More advertisers leave Tucker Carlson’s show as backlash grows over immigrant comment
The growing backlash against Tucker Carlson’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has prompted multiple companies to pull advertisements from the air during his prime-time Fox News show, including IHOP and Ancestry.com.
During his Thursday evening opening monologue, the host suggested that immigrants make the United States “poorer and dirtier.”
“Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this,” Carlson said, as he name-checked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and ran footage of trash along the border purportedly from caravans of Central American migrants. “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided. Immigration is a form of atonement.”
The segment ended with an advertisement for insurance company Pacific Life. The Fortune 500 company said in a statement Friday that it “strongly” disagreed with Carlson’s immigration comments and that it would reevaluate its relationship with the program amid the fallout.
Carlson bled three more advertisers in the coming days as he doubled down on his show Monday evening. “The left would very much like you to stop talking and thinking about bad decisions they’ve made over the years that they happen to be profiting from,” he said. “’Shut up,’ they’re screaming, including to this show. Obviously, we won’t, and you shouldn’t, either.”
Carlson was clear there would be no apology from him. “We’re not intimidated. We plan to say what’s true until the last day,” he said.
He also took to Twitter, writing Monday: “We spend a lot of time talking about the threat to free speech. It’s not an academic question. If they can force you to shut up, they will. Here’s their latest attempt.”
On Tuesday, more companies took a position, even as Fox reported that no revenue has been lost.
The pancake chain IHOP said in a statement provided by spokeswoman Stephanie Peterson that it stands “for welcoming folks from all backgrounds and beliefs into our restaurants and continually evaluate ad placements to ensure they align with our values. In this case, we will no longer be advertising on this show.”
The genealogy company Ancestry halted advertisements, as did personal finance company NerdWallet, which said that it will be reevaluating future airtime on the show.
“If our review determines that a certain show’s content doesn’t align with our company values, we take commensurate and appropriate action. That’s what we’re doing in this instance,” NerdWallet spokesperson Keely Spillane told The Washington Post in a statement.
Minted, a design marketplace, has tweeted a flurry of responses to social media users angry over Carlson’s comments. “We are not currently advertising on Tucker Carlson Tonight and have permanently discontinued advertising on this particular program,” the company told several people.
SmileDirectClub and Nautilus, the parent company of fitness training equipment brand Bowflex, also confirmed that they asked Fox News not to run their commercials during Carlson’s show, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Employment search engine Indeed.com requested the same from the network more than a month ago.
Jaguar Land Rover spokesman Stuart Schorr said the automaker’s advertisements rarely appeared on Carlson’s program and that the company does “not have any future ad time allocated to it.” Schorr declined to address a question asking if the controversy played a role in that decision.
A few companies have stood behind their ad placement.
Farmers Insurance said it will keep advertising during the time slot, adding that “decisions made by Farmers should not be construed to be an endorsement of any kind as to a show’s content or the individuals appearing on the show,” spokesman Luis Sahagun said in a statement.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Bayer, producer of Alka-Seltzer Plus, also stood by its ad placement, as did Mitsubishi, the Daily Beast reported. The Post was unable to independently confirm with these companies.
Fox News called the outrage “unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.” Network spokeswoman Carly Shanahan said in a statement. “It is a shame that left-wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs,’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech.”
That statement came after Pacific Life yanked its commercials from Carlson’s program. Shanahan pointed to the Pacific Life statement Tuesday following a request for new comment about the additional advertiser pullouts.
CNN reported that a Fox News spokesperson said that “all of the advertisers were moving their commercials to other shows on the network and that as a result no revenue had been lost.”
The network has defended itself against similar advertiser withdrawals driven by public scrutiny.
In March, half a dozen companies yanked commercials during Fox host Laura Ingraham’s program after she taunted former Parkland High School student David Hogg. She later apologized, but Fox News executive Jack Abernethy decried the move as “agenda-driven intimidation efforts” and censorship.
Carlson has been a frequent critic of immigration. The Post’s Philip Bump has reported that since taking over the prime-time slot shortly before the 2016 election, Carlson has been “a fervent advocate for Trump’s hard-right position on immigration.” In March, Carlson voiced concern that America’s demographics were changing too quickly without “debate.”
In his Thursday monologue, Carlson rolled footage of Mexican protesters critical of the caravan who were suggesting that some in the caravan were criminals mounting an “invasion,” in an echo of President Trump’s rhetoric.
“That sounds like a Trump rally. When did Mexican citizens start talking like this? It’s confusing, and of course, deeply hilarious and satisfying to watch,” Carlson said.