Fox News is standing by its embattled host Laura Ingraham, who has seen advertisers flee her show over a tweet aimed at Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor David Hogg.
“We cannot and will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts,” Jack Abernethy, co-president of Fox News, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “We look forward to having Laura Ingraham back hosting her program next Monday when she returns from spring vacation with her children.”
Ingraham has gone on a scheduled break after a week in which she came under fire for mocking David, 17, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after he mentioned in an interview that he was not accepted by four University of California schools.
David responded by listing Fox News advertisers and urging his Twitter supporters to call for a boycott of her program “The Ingraham Angle.” Ingraham issued a tweet apologizing for remarks about David, but the student-turned-gun control activist did not accept it.
Some advertisers have left the show since Thursday to protest Ingraham’s remarks, while other sponsors have steered clear of her program so as not to be associated with the controversy.
Although more than a dozen advertisers have stated publicly that they have pulled their commercials from “The Ingraham Angle,” far more have stayed away without making any public announcements.
Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual, Office Depot, Expedia, Nestle and Hulu are among the advertisers that have pulled out of the show.
On Friday, the program had only two spots – both from IBM – that were not direct response advertisers (those that typically sell products and services through a 1-800 number and are usually less sensitive about where their spots run).
The situation has become so dire that even the studio that made “Chappaquiddick,” a controversial movie about the 1969 accident involving Ted Kennedy that killed young political campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne, has pulled its ads from the program.
One person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to publicly comment said the boycott has not yet resulted in a significant financial hit.
This person said no advertiser has pulled their dollars from the network but have simply moved from “The Ingraham Angle” to other programs on the Fox News schedule. Most of the advertisers are out because they want to avoid the controversy associated with the story and could revisit the situation in a few weeks after Ingraham returns.
Abernethy’s statement is meant to convey that Ingraham will return whether the advertisers come back or not. Fox News hired Ingraham to be a provocative commentator who appeals to conservative viewers, and if she is shut down by advertiser resistance its other hosts will be come vulnerable. Ingraham took over the 10 p.m. Eastern slot on Fox News in October.
Fox News executives will not comment beyond the statement, but privately they believe Ingraham’s offense does not approach the issues that brought down hosts Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck, who both lost their shows after advertisers pulled out.
O’Reilly was at the center of a sexual harassment scandal that engulfed the company and was fired after a report that he and Fox News had paid $13 million in settlements to current and former employees who filed complaints against him.
Beck was fired after advertisers fled his show in response to a number of wildly extreme statements he made, including that former President Barack Obama was a racist who hated white people.
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