As paid sponsorship dwindles, Tucker Carlson Tonight is resorting to airing in-house ads for Fox programming and direct response-brand ads in order to fill the time built in for commercial breaks. According to a piece in The Hollywood Reporter, the embattled Fox News host has seen his top-tier advertisers abandon ship en masse due the release of recordings of Carlson sharing controversial views on a radio show from 2006 to 2011. Instead of running ads from former sponsors like Pacific Life and drug maker Astra Zeneca, the highly-rated show is airing ads for Fox Nation, Fox Sports, and Fox News.
Calls for a boycott of Carlson and his show came about when recordings surfaced of him calling women “extremely primitive,” and saying that they like to be told by men to “just be quiet and kind of do what you’re told,” as reported by The Washington Post. He also said he felt “sorry for unattractive women,” suggesting that if someone wants to emigrate to the U.S. they should be attractive. He also defended Mormon splinter group leader Warren Jeffs against his conviction for child rape in marrying a 14-year-old girl, saying it’s different in Jeff’s case because he wasn’t “pulling a stranger off the street and raping her.”
“The rapist, in this case, has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person, so it is a little different.”
In terms of the boycott, the advertisers seem to be feeling the pressure. The report found that in the weeks leading up to a previous Carlson controversy that came up in December of 2018 — when he said that immigration makes America “dirtier,” leading to an exodus of at least 26 advertisers — the show aired 1.33 house ads per episode. But since progressive advocacy group Media Matters unleashed the recordings featuring Carlson on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show on March 10, that number has skyrocketed to 6.2 house ads per episode, with spots for Fox programming making up nearly 35 percent of the show’s ads. That stands in stark contrast to the 3.7 percent of house ads that made up his advertising portfolio prior to the December controversy.
Of paid advertisers, Carlson’s show these days counts among its stable direct response advertisers MyPhoto, MyPillow, Leaf Filter, and moving and storage company PODS. It still officially retains major brand advertisers like Progressive Insurance, Bayer, and Nutrisystem. However, in Bayer’s case, that relationship may be souring — the drug and chemical-maker hasn’t run a spot on the show since March 11.
And while Fox publicly says it expects advertisers to return to the fold after the outcry dies down, at least one company, Pacific Life, says that’s not going to happen.
“We do not have any plans to advertise with the program,” a spokesperson said.