Reprinted with permission from Press Run
Remember when bigoted Fox News hosts were forced to take unscheduled 'vacations' when their hateful speech kicked up controversy and advertisers, feeling pressure from outraged consumers, would head for the exits? It's been a long-standing Fox News tradition, as a way to cool the marketplace temperature and ride out storms.
In 2018, Laura Ingraham hastily left for "a pre-planned vacation" as advertisers started fleeing her show after she mocked a Parkland school shooting survivor online. The year before, Sean Hannity suddenly vanished from the airwaves when advertisers began dropping his time slot when he kept fueling an ugly conspiracy theory about the murder of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer.
And last summer, Tucker Carlson announced a "long-planned" vacation that weirdly started on a Tuesday night, just as high-profile advertisers were ditching him after CNN discovered that Carlson's head writer had spent years pseudonymously posting wildly vulgar, KKK-like rants online.
Today, those vacations appear to be a thing of the past, even as Carlson purposefully courts controversy with hate speech, remaining a blight on our cuture. (He recently lied, claiming the Covid-19 vaccine has killed thousands of Americans.)
Consider that weeks after the election, Tucker Carlson told viewers that "the 2020 presidential election was not fair" and that "no honest person would claim that it was fair." Just two days before the deadly January 6 insurrection, he claimed that election was "rigged" and then, "There is no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6."
There's a reason prominent white nationalist Andrew Anglin, who oversee the hate site Daily Stormer, has described Carlson's Fox News show as "basically 'Daily Stormer: The Show,'" and called Carlson "literally our greatest ally."
Carlson generated more headlines last week when he denounced Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a "disgraceful," "stupid" "pig" after Milley told lawmakers that military personnel should be "widely read" and that included learning about issues such as critical race theory. Several veterans groups responded with outrage, and pressured USAA, which provides financial services to personnel and the families of those who serve or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, to stop advertising on Carlson's show.
In theory it should work. Just ask previous, top-rated Fox News hosts such as Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck who got tossed overboard when their shows became largely ad-free zones after advertisers walked away following scandalous commentary (Obama is a "racist"), and behavior (chronic sexual harassing.)
For years progressive activists used that marketplace dynamic as a key leverage point, working hard to drive advertisers away from Fox News' toxic content. The tug-of-war was well defined: If hosts insisted on trafficking in clearly racist, homophobic and hateful language, then Madison Ave. clients were going to be forced to make a choice, stand with Fox or stand with common decency.
For dozens (hundreds?) of advertisers and would-be Fox advertisers, that choice over the years has been a no-brainer. Corporate America spends untold billions each year cultivating brand value and has no interest flushing that away via some hot-headed basic cable host. Bye-bye Disney, Lexus, T-Mobile etc. They all have dropped Carlson.
He's Madison Ave. poison. So why does he still have a show?
What's now protecting Carlson, aside from the support he gets from Murdoch's powerful son, Lachlan, who has publicly defended the host's white supremacy programming, are cable fees. Billions of dollars in cable fees. The network earns more annually in fees from cable operators, such as Comcast and Verizon, that pay to carry Fox News content, than the network earns from advertising.
What's so unusual about the Fox News carrier fees is it's wildly bloated in terms of how many people actually watch the network.
From Judd Legum's Popular Information:
According to a survey conducted late last year, about 14% of cable TV subscribers watch Fox News regularly. But every cable TV subscriber pays an average of $1.72 a month to receive Fox News. In contrast, 31% of cable TV subscribers regularly watch FX (owned by Disney) but the channel adds just $0.81 to an average cable bill. This means, for every actual viewer, Fox News receives a $7.75 subsidy from people who never watch Fox News.
The network rakes in nearly $2 billion each year from the hidden subscriber fees, twice as much as CNN and three times as much as MSNBC. Those sky-high fees in turn protect Fox News when advertisers abandon the network.
Back at the end of March, "Of the 81 minutes and 15 seconds of Tucker Carlson Tonight ad time from March 25-31, My Pillow made up about 20% of those, Fox News Channel promos had over 5% and Fox Nation had nearly 4%," TVRev reported. So, almost 1-in-3 ad minutes were filled by a partisan Carlson ally, which means he's playing with house money.
We know there's no collective conscience among managers at Fox News. Without the marketplace pressure of advertising boycotts to occasionally shame the network, it's difficult to hold Murdoch's rogue operation accountable.
UPDATED: For more on carrier fees and taking on Fox News, see #UnFoxMyCablebox
- Neo-Nazis Idolize Fox News' Tucker Carlson - National Memo ›
- Tucker Carlson Tries To Start A 1/6 'Truther' Movement (Of The ... ›
- 'Tucker Must Go': Carlson Endorses Neo-Nazi Conspiracy Theory ... ›
- Poll: Fox's Carlson Driving Republican Racial Agenda - National ... ›
- Alex Jones Claims Government Is Listening To His Chats With ... ›
- On Social Media, Fox News Advertisers Claim To Support Black ... ›
- Tucker Carlson's Big Vaccine Lie Could Kill Thousands - National ... ›
- ‘Critical Race Theory’ Was Weaponized Against Obama In 2012 — And Flopped - National Memo ›
- Why Fox News Has Mostly Ignored Carlson’s NSA ‘Surveillance’ Complaints - National Memo ›
- Tucker Carlson’s NSA Tall Tale Just Gets…Dumber - National Memo ›
- Unhinged: Carlson Savages His First-Grade Teacher With Angry Lies - National Memo ›
- Why Is Tucker Carlson Still On The Air? - National Memo ›
- The Deadly Spread Of The Murdoch Variant - National Memo ›
- WATCH: Montana Man Tells Carlson: ‘You’re The Worst Human Being Known To Mankind’ - National Memo ›
- MyPillow Conspiracy Guy Pulls Ads From Fox News - National Memo ›
- Carlson Accuses Biden Of Importing Afghan 'Rapist' — But Border Officials Flagged Him ›
- The Murdochs Love Tucker Carlson’s Vile Conspiracy Theories - National Memo ›
- Tucker Carlson's Fox News Show Lost 70 Advertisers in Less Than ... ›
- Why Fox News Pays A Price To Stick By Tucker Carlson ›
- Tucker Carlson Losing Sponsors. Is Fox News Losing Ad Cash ... ›
- What's Left of Tucker Carlson's Advertisers (So Far) in 2021? - TV[R ... ›
- Who's Still Advertising with Tucker Carlson at the End of Q1 2021 ... ›
- Tucker Carlson: advertisers desert Fox News host after he attacks ... ›
- Without Major Sponsors, Tucker Carlson's Show Leans on Fox ... ›
- Advertisers Are Fleeing Tucker Carlson. Fox News Viewers Have ... ›
- With ads like these, does Tucker Carlson benefit Fox News? - Los ... ›