Several companies, including ABC and T-Mobile, will withdraw advertisements from Tucker Carlson Tonight, following controversial comments the host made about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tucker Carlson, whose conservative-leaning commentary show is an anchor of the Fox News primetime lineup, took to his platform to express disapproval of national movements to end racial injustice in policing. Referring to the overwhelmingly peaceful protests that have taken place in all fifty states as “Black Lives Matter riots,” the conservative pundit told his audience they were not “required to be upset” about the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who was killed by a police officer and whose death set off a national movement to end police brutality.
“This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through,” Mr. Carlson warned his audience, “but it is definitely not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will.” While he left ambiguous who he was referencing when he said “they,” a spokesman for Fox News said a day later that Carlson meant Democrats, not Black Lives Matter activists. Still, the fearmongering did little to abate his show’s sponsors.
Sponsor Distance Themselves
T-Mobile tweeted, “We haven’t run ads on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ since early May and have canceled all future placements. We will continue to support those who stand against racial injustice.” The CEO of the telecommunication company, Mike Sievert, also tweeted, “Bye-bye Tucker Carlson!”
Disney has also come forward, claiming that the 29 ads that had run during Calrlson’s show, “were placed on the show without [their] knowledge by third party media buyers.” A spokesperson for ABC, the TV network owned by Disney, told Deadline that the ads for ABC’s House of Mouse had been mistakenly placed during Carlson’s slot. All future commercials would be immediately pulled, the spokesperson said.
Papa John’s Pizza and online retailer Poshmark also pulled sponsorship from Carlson’s block in response to the controversy. The vacuum of support for the polarizing program occurs in a time when corporations are scrambling to find the best way to endorse the national call for racial justice without seeming inauthentic.
Still, this isn’t the first time Tucker Carlson has alienated advertisers. In 2018, 20 companies stopped purchasing airtime during the slot after Carlson claimed that immigrants made the U.S., “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.” In the summer of 2019, he also raved that white supremacy was a “hoax” and should be regarded as a conspiracy theory.
For its part, Fox News says that fleeing sponsors have done little to harm the network financially, noting that the commercials that would have run during Tucker Carlson Tonight will now play during other programs on the network.