More than a dozen advertisers dump Tucker Carlson after Fox News host's racist attacks on immigrants

Meanwhile, Fox calls the companies' decisions to pull their ad dollars "unfortunate and unnecessary distractions"

Published December 19, 2018 4:21PM (EST)

Tucker Carlson (Getty/Rich Polk)
Tucker Carlson (Getty/Rich Polk)

Tucker Carlson faced mounting backlash as companies continued on Tuesday to remove valuable advertisements from his show in response to the controversial remarks that the Fox News host made last week about immigration — specifically, that it makes the U.S. "poorer and dirtier."

The "Tucker Carlson Tonight" host claimed last week that the U.S. needs "more scientists and skilled engineers" for increasingly automated and tech-centered jobs.

"Instead, we're getting waves of people with high school educations or less," Carlson said. "Nice people, no one doubts that, but as an economic matter, this is insane. It's indefensible, so no one even tries to defend it. Instead, our leaders demand that you shut up, and accept this. We have a moral obligation to admit the world's poor, they tell us, even if it makes our country poorer and dirtier and more divided."

Carlson's comments were widely criticized, and several people threatened to boycott his advertisers. More than a dozen removed their ads from Carlson's show in response. As of this writing, at least 16 companies have pulled advertising from "Tucker Carlson Tonight," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In response to the advertiser exodus,  Carlson doubled down on his racist remarks from last week about the caravan of migrants traveling from Central America to the U.S. and claimed that liberal talking points were encouraging undocumented immigrants to flood into the country.

"It's true," Carlson told viewers on Monday. "The left says we have a moral obligation to admit the world's poor – even if it makes our own country more like Tijuana is now, which is to say poorer and dirtier and more divided."

He then referenced interviews he conducted with Tijuana delegate Genaro Lopez about the migrant caravan that President Donald Trump had labeled a "national emergency."

"That's what we said. It's true, ask Genaro Lopez," Carlson said. "Thanks to the efforts of the American left, he and his city are living with the consequences. But precisely because it is so obviously true, saying it out loud is a threat."

Carlson also criticized the companies like the jobs website Indeed and the insurance provider Pacific Life, which in recent days have yanked their ad dollars from his program.

"A lot of people profiting from the policy don't want the rest of us to think about it too much. They just want us to mouth the empty platitudes and move on, 'Nothing to see here. Shut up, and go away.' Those who won't shut up get silenced. The enforcers scream, 'racist' on Twitter until everybody gets intimidated and changes the subject to the Russia investigation or some other distraction," Carlson said. "It's a tactic – a well-worn one. Nobody thinks it's real, and it won't work with this show. We're not intimidated. We plan to try to say what's true until the last day."

In response to the backlash, Fox News expressed support for its host's opinions, saying it was "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 also called the companies' decisions to pull their ad dollars "unfortunate and unnecessary distractions," alleging that liberal activist groups "never target other broadcasters and operate under a grossly hypocritical double standard given their intolerance to all opposing points of view."

Fox News has faced a number of advertiser boycotts in recent years due to a controversy involving one of its hosts. Earlier this year, Laura Ingraham lost the support of well more than a dozen advertisers after she mocked David Hogg's reported rejections from several universities. Hogg is a survivor of the Parkland school shooting who helped spark a nationwide movement against gun violence. He responded to Ingraham's taunts by calling on advertisers to pull their commercials from her primetime show, "The Ingraham Angle."

In April 2017, former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly announced he would be taking an Easter vacation amid an advertiser boycott. He was later fired by the network over mounting allegations of sexual misconduct. That same month, O'Reilly protégé Jesse Watters abruptly announced he was taking time off after resounding backlash to his inappropriate comment about first daughter Ivanka Trump, which he claimed was not meant to be a sexual innuendo. It was Watters' first week in his new primetime slot.

After Sean Hannity supported embattled accused child molester Roy Moore in his campaign for U.S. Senate in November of last year, five companies removed their ads from his program, including Keurig. In defense of the news anchor, Hannity fans launched a boycott of the company, posting videos of themselves demolishing their machines on social media. Keurig's CEO later apologized, and Hannity urged his viewers to stop destroying their individual coffee makers.

For now, any potential impact of the advertiser withdrawal from Carlson's show remains unclear.

By Shira Tarlo

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