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Advertisers flee from Tucker Carlson in wake of controversy over past radio comments
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For the second time in three months, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has found himself at the center of a controversy that may cost the network big time in ad revenue.
Major advertisers like AstraZeneca and Sheex have dropped Carlson’s primetime show after a series of tapes from past radio shows were released that appear to feature the Fox host making what some considered to be offensive comments on a spectrum of hot-button, sometimes sexually explicit, topics.
Separate but equally controversial recordings that appeared to include Carlson were made public starting on Sunday by progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America. The tapes, which were recorded live between 2006 and 2011, were reportedly pulled from a “shock jock” radio program hosted by “Bubba the Love Sponge,” also known as Todd Alan Clem.
Some of the statements made by Carlson reportedly included a suggestion that Iraqis are “semiliterate primitive monkeys,” that white men “created civilization,” and that women are “primitive.” On Monday, Media Matters released more tapes on which Carlson can be heard making what USA Today called “homophobic and racist comments.”
Additional tapes released Wednesday featured Carlson making sexually suggestive comments about teenage girls involved in the Miss Teen USA pageant, which was previously owned by now-President Donald Trump.
Media Matters said the timing of the release of the recordings was no accident on their part: Fox News was scheduled to meet with advertisers Wednesday to reassure them that Fox viewers haven’t wavered amid recent controversies. Media Matters said it wanted to give those advertisers a “deeper understanding” of the network prior to the meeting.
According to the media watchdog group, as many as 34 companies have dropped Tucker Carlson Tonight since December, when Carlson came under fire for suggesting that immigrants make America “poorer” and “dirtier.”
Still, many companies have stuck by Carlson through it all, including Progressive, Elite Singles, StarKist, Super Beta Prostate, Jenny Craig, POFS, Bayer, and the show’s largest advertiser, MyPillow. Fox News has also stood by the primetime host.
“We cannot and will not allow voices like Tucker Carlson to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts from the likes of Moveon.org, Media Matters and Sleeping Giants,” Fox News said in a statement to NBC.
Carlson’s show has reportedly brought in $28 million in ad revenue so far in 2019.
For his part, Carlson has not apologized for the controversial comments. He first addressed the situation on Monday on Twitter, writing in part: “I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch.”
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) March 11, 2019
Carlson also went after Media Matters directly on Tuesday’s episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, accusing them of being “a George Soros-funded lobbying organization whose sole mission is to punish critics of the Democratic Party” and alleging that they often use “propaganda from the Southern Poverty Law Center to bully corporations, news execs, and tech companies into punishing people it does not like.”
On Monday, Carlson promised not to “bow to the mob” and apologize for his past comments.
“Since the day we went on the air, they’ve been working hard to kill this show,” Carlson said. “There’s no pretending that it’s not happening. It is happening. And so going forward, we’ll be covering their efforts to make us be quiet.”
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