Tucker Carlson’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has compelled four companies to pull advertisements from airing during his prime-time Fox News show. The backlash came in response to Thursday evening’s monologue, when the host suggested immigrants make the United States “poorer and dirtier.”
“Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this,” he said, while name-checking Reps. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “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.”
Few advocates, if any, argue the economic merit of immigration, Carlson said in his opening. The nation needs skilled workers, but that is not who arrive here, he said.
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.
“Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in,” the company said. “We will not be advertising on Mr. Carlson’s show in the coming weeks as we re-evaluate our relationship with his program.”
Several other companies have since followed suit.
NerdWallet, a personal finance company, pulled its advertising and said that it will be re-evaluating future airtime during “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“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,” company spokeswoman Keely Spillane told The Washington Post in a statement.
SmileDirectClub and Nautilus, the parent company of fitness training equipment brand Bowflex, also confirmed asking Fox News to refrain from running 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, too.
A few companies have stood behind their ad placement, including Bayer, producer of Alka-Seltzer Plus, and Mitsubishi. Farmers Insurance also said it will keep advertising during the 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,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
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.”
The network has defended itself against similar advertiser pullouts driven by public scrutiny.
In March, six companies yanked commercials during Laura Ingraham’s program after she taunted former Parkland student David Hogg. She later apologized, but Fox News co-president 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 previously 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, suggesting that some were criminals mounting an “invasion,” in an echo of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
“That sounds like a Trump rally,” Carlson said. “When did Mexican citizens start talking like this? It’s confusing, and of course, deeply hilarious and satisfying to watch.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Deanna Paul, Alex Horton