Tucker Carlson's anti-immigrant rhetoric has prompted at least six companies to pull advertisements from the air during his prime-time Fox News show, in a growing backlash for the network host.
His remarks came during his Thursday evening opening 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, as he name-checked Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan, and ran footage of trash along the border purportedly from migrant caravans. "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 said it would re-evaluate its relationship with the programme 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."
The genealogy company Ancestry halted advertisements on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," spokeswoman Jasmin Jimenez told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
NerdWallet, a personal finance company, pulled its advertising and said that it will be re-evaluating 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," company spokesperson Keely Spillane told The 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 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.
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.
Bayer, producer of Alka-Seltzer Plus, and Mitsubishi also stood by their ad placement. 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,' weaponise social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech."
That statement came after Pacific Life yanked its commercials from Carlson's programme. Shanahan pointed to that initial statement Tuesday when asked for a new comment about the additional advertiser pullouts.
The network has defended itself against similar advertiser withdrawals driven by public scrutiny.
In March, half a dozen companies yanked commercials during Laura Ingraham's programme after she taunted former Parkland High School student David Hogg. She later apologised, 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 Washington 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 some of the migrants were criminals mounting an "invasion," in an echo of US President Donald 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.
- Washington Post