On August 7, the day after Tucker Carlson called America’s white-supremacy problem “a hoax,” the Fox News host announced a weeklong trip “to the wilderness” to fish with his son. Unlike other hosts on the network who’ve come back from vacation to find their airtime filled, Carlson eased back into his routine on Monday with more pedestrian fare, including segments on Joe Biden’s fitness for the presidency and Elizabeth Warren’s Native American misstep. But not all his pre-holiday advertisers joined him upon his return.
According to the watchdog group Media Matters for America, in the past 11 days, Tucker Carlson Tonight has lost at least five advertisers, including Nestle, SteinMart, HelloFresh, Calm, and SoFi. It’s the latest run in a bad year for Carlson: According to Media Matters, his “nightly paid ad load” dropped from a high of 36 paid ads per episode in October 2018 to 15 per episode in August 2019. Since December 2018, over 70 paid advertisers have abandoned his program.
Pacific Life left in December after Carlson said immigrants make America “poorer and dirtier.” In March, 34 advertisers ditched him after decade-old recordings emerged of Carlson dialing into shock-jock radio and calling women “extremely primitive” and claiming that Iraq is populated by “semi-literate primitive monkeys.” Key revenue sources, like Outback, Capital One, and AstraZeneca, announced they would no longer advertise with Carlson, though as Fox News’ executive vice-president of advertising sales Jeff Collins said in a statement: “Advertising budgets that were impacted have been re-expressed into other programs across the network.”
By that point, Fox News promos made up 35 percent of Carlson’s ad inventory. Apparently, the association of a business with an entertainer who is praised by David Duke and — according to one prominent ex-white nationalist — hits far-right messaging “better than they have” isn’t great for business. Carlson now has close to 60 percent fewer ads per show than before the ad exodus began last year.
Carlson’s flirtations with white-nationalist rhetoric and racist attacks toward sitting a congresswoman are hurting the network beyond his hour. After he claimed that white nationalism is “not a real problem in America” days after an anti-immigrant shooter killed 22 people at an El Paso Walmart, Long John Silver’s removed ads from the whole network. According to Media Matters, the seafood chain had previously been running ads on Fox News almost every day.
This post has been updated.