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How Advertisers Are Forced Into Politics

Washington

Are liberal opponents conspiring to silence Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight show by getting advertisers to boycott, or are advertisers jumping ship because they don’t want their brands tied to controversial immigration comments?

It depends who you ask, but the fact remains that some 20 corporations have already stopped advertising on Carlson’s primetime Fox News show over his mid-December comments about immigration.

Discussion the arrival of Central American immigrants in Tijuana, Mexico, Carlson mocked those who believe we have a “moral obligation to accept the world’s poor” and argued against the economic benefits, claiming that the influx of low-skilled workers “makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided”.

We need more scientists and engineers, Carlson said, “but that’s not what we’re getting”.

What happened next was punishment by advertising, with insurance company Pacific Life pulling the plug on advertising during Carlson’s show. They were followed by Bowflex, Lexus/Toyota, Samsung, SodaStream, NerdWallet, Jaguar Land Rover and others—many of which are advertising youth-oriented lifestyles.

And even before this latest debacle, job search site Indeed.com was one of the first to pull ads from Carlson's program back in October, calling it “highly polarizing”. Related: Markets Inch Lower As Investors Remain Cautious

Not everyone’s taken issue with advertising on Carlson’s show in this era of extreme polarization. Drug giant Bayer isn’t going anywhere, nor is John Deere, one of the biggest of the show’s advertisers.

Ancestry.com, which tracks family history, first said it would not support Carlson’s show after the December comments, but then was back by January 3. It’s an odd stance for a company selling you a kit to essentially prove you’re an immigrant, and the irony is not likely to be lost on consumers.

Fox News responded to the advertiser effort by releasing the following 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. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions."

Now that Carlson’s bit off the immigrant controversy, he’s going for women, with advertisers waiting in the wings to see what the blowback might be for brand tie-ins …

Carlson now says that the greatest problem facing America can be boiled down to the decrease in men’s earning power.

Related: China’s Souring Economy Drags Down Global Equities

This isn’t Fox News’ first rodeo with advertising problems. In early April, the network also supported its host Laura Ingraham after a group of companies pulled their ads when she taunted a survivor of the Parkland school shooting, for which she (unlike Carlson) apologized later.

Then we have the over fifty companies who stopped advertising on “The O’Reilly Factor” last year after the host was accused of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior. For now, Fox News’ Sean Hannity is one of the rare figures unharmed, even though he was always the most likely target.

America’s media environment is now more polarized than any other Western country in the world, according to a recent study from the Reuters Institute—and this polarization is affecting advertising, making it a political minefield for consumer navigation.

By Fred Dunkley for Safehaven.com

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