The latest scandal that has cost Fox News host Laura Ingraham a swath of advertisers comes as she championed Paul Nehlen as a prominent conservative censored by social media. But some sponsors are still standing by her.
Nehlen is a reported neo-Nazi and white supremacist. His Twitter account was suspended after he called for race riots in Chicago, made threats directed at Jewish Americans, and posted a picture of armed people in military garb captioned “Nehlenwaffen” in an apparent reference to the Nazi Waffen-SS.
Nehlen was also kicked off the alt-right social network Gab, where he posted photoshopped images of the heads of Jewish people on pikes. Even the alt-right platform Breitbart has cut ties with Nehlen.
Thanks to Ingraham backing Nehlen, her own backers have been put in an awkward position — to cut ties with her or defend her. Trying to find a way to do neither has led to strained and noncommittal responses.
“We do not endorse individual opinions,” said tuna company StarKist. “Our television ads appear on a number of cable networks as part of our national media buy.”
Other sponsors like Bayer, Sandals Resorts, Bausch + Lomb, Booking.com, NetSuite, and The Zebra have not commented about Ingraham’s support of Nehlen.
Though not all advertisers are abandoning ship, some sponsors are cutting ties with Ingraham.
“Effective immediately, we are no longer advertising on The Ingraham Angle. We will also be taking this opportunity to thoughtfully update our media buying guidelines to ensure that our ad dollars are being spent in ways that align with our values,” photo finishing company Fracture said in a statement. “We believe in freedom of speech, but we certainly don’t have to support hate speech with our advertising dollars.”
Fracture joins TripAdviser, Stitch Fix, Hulu and a host of other big names in a long-standing boycott of The Ingraham Angle following Ingraham’s mocking of gun reform advocate David Hogg over college admissions last year. She also compared the tent cities that housed migrant children separated from their families to “summer camps” and equated Planned Parenthood with Hitler.
That comparison is complicated somewhat by her defense of a reported neo-Nazi.
And though Ingraham’s ratings have rebounded since the advertiser boycott began, her ad sales have been more sluggish. She’s shed almost five full minutes of ad time on her program, and the ads she’s running skew toward direct-response marketing like that for MyPillow. Year-over-year, Ingraham drew 40% fewer advertisers this February than last.
The loss of support from Fracture over her support for Nehlen is another blow to Ingraham and to Fox.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.