Eleven advertisers have pulled out of Fox News after host Tucker Carlson suggested that immigrants make America “dirtier.”
During a monologue on Thursday, Carlson claimed that “you never hear” anybody make an economic case for “mass immigration” — which is simply not true — then went on to blast politicians and pundits, including current House Speaker Paul Ryan and the presumptive next House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for supporting more immigration into the US.
“Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this,” Carlson said. “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.”
After the segment ended, the show cut to a commercial for Pacific Life, a life insurance company, and Carlson’s critics called on the company on Twitter to condemn what Carlson said.
On Friday, Pacific Life responded. It said that it “strongly” disagreed with Carlson’s remarks and that it would pull its ads from Carlson’s show “in the coming weeks as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”
Other companies, including IHOP, the jobs website Indeed, the United Explorer credit card, Just For Men, Jaguar Land Rover, Ancestry.com, SmileDirectClub, NerdWallet, Minted and Voya Financial have done the same. In a statement provided to the Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for IHOP said, “At our core, we stand 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.”
This is far from the first time that Carlson has said something controversial. Previously, for example, he made a lengthy case against diversity, suggesting that it makes the US and its institutions weaker. But it’s rare that companies feel forced to pull their ads due to such remarks.
Earlier this year, Fox News host Laura Ingraham saw several advertisers pull out of her show after she mocked David Hogg, a Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor and activist, for his college rejections. In recent years, advertisers also ditched Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly’s Fox shows after controversies.
In response to the Carlson situation, a Fox News spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter, “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. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.”
It’s easy to read these advertiser pullouts as political stands. Pacific Life, for one, suggested that it’s supportive of “the diversity of our great nation” in its statement.
But advertisers also want to avoid linking their companies or products to anything that’s controversial or racist. As Erik Wemple noted at the Washington Post, “Though the Erik Wemple Blog isn’t a big fan of advertiser pressure campaigns, we’d never want to place a spot for the Erik Wemple Life Insurance Blog in proximity to Carlson’s programming, which veers into bigotry as a matter of reflex, not to mention audience appeal.”
Whatever the reason, Carlson’s show will lose out on at least some advertising money as a result of his remarks. But for his part, Carlson appears all too willing to double down: on his Monday evening show, Carlson said,
“Those who won’t shut up get silenced. You’ve seen it a million times, it happens all the time. The enforcers scream “racist” on Twitter, until everybody gets intimidated and changes the subject to the Russia investigation or some other distraction.
It’s a tactic, a well-worn one, nobody thinks it’s real, and it won’t work with this show, we are not intimidated. We plan to try to say what’s true until the last day. And the truth is, unregulated mass immigration has badly hurt this country’s natural landscape.”
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