Tucker Carlson is refusing to apologize for what he said in a series of old radio interviews.
Fox News Channel has lost a handful of advertisers as it deals with controversies involving two of its television hosts: Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro.
A day after drug maker AstraZeneca said it would no longer advertise on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a second advertiser, bedding company Sheex, has said it also would pull ads from the program.
“Due to the inappropriate statements of Tucker Carlson that have recently come to light, Sheex has made the decision to cease advertising on his television program,” the company, which was founded by two women, said in statements to news sites The Daily Beast and The Wrap.
Media Matters, a self-described “progressive media watchdog,” on Sunday published clips and transcripts from radio appearances Carlson made between 2006 and 2011 on a popular shock-jock radio program called “Bubba the Love Sponge.” Among those clips were controversial remarks about women and child rape.
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Carlson, who was at MSNBC for some of those years, had refused to apologize for the comments. He became a political contributor for Fox News in 2009 and was named co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend” in 2012. His show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” debuted in 2016.
AstraZeneca on Monday tweeted its intention to “no longer advertise” on Carlson’s show.
Fox News, in a statement sent to USA TODAY, supported Carlson: “We cannot and will not allow voices like Tucker Carlson to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts from the likes of Moveon.org, Media Matters and Sleeping Giants.”
Carlson, on his show Monday night, thanked Fox News for its support and said, “We have always apologized when we are wrong and we will continue to do that. … but we will never bow to the mob, ever, no matter what.”
On Sunday, just hours after Media Matters issued the clips, Carlson said on Twitter: “Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago. Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”
Media Matters has issued additional clips of Carlson from that time period, during which he is heard saying Iraq is a place filled with “semi-illiterate monkeys,” and making sexual comments about a 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant contestant.
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The controversy surrounding Pirro come from comments she made Saturday on her show “Justice With Jeanine Pirro,” about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s hijab, a head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women, possibly signaling that Omar held beliefs that are “antithetical” to the Constitution.
Among advertisers who have left Pirro’s show is drug maker Novo Nordisk, which in a statement sent to USA TODAY, said, “We respect each person’s right to express their thinking and beliefs, however, we are re-evaluating our advertising on this program at this time.”
The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday reported Novo Nordisk, online seller Letgo and finance company Nerdwallet had pulled advertising from Pirro’s show.
Fox News on Sunday night issued a statement condemning Pirro’s comments: “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”
Pirro countered with a statement in which she said, “My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution. I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”
Carlson has dealt with controversy in the past. Other companies have pulled their ads from Carlson’s show since December when he insinuated that immigration makes the U.S. “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.”
The network lost as much as $2.2 million in ad revenue over that boycott, The Wrap estimated, as well as $16 million in ad revenue in 2018 for “The Ingraham Angle.” After host Laura Ingraham in March 2018 mocked Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, he called for his Twitter followers to boycott her show’s advertisers.
At least 30 advertisers left Carlson’s show during the boycott and another company, Outback Steakhouse, stopped advertising in January, The Wrap reported.
Fox News ad sales president Marianne Gambelli told The Wrap at the time: “No revenue was lost as inventory has been shifted to other dayparts and we are on track to deliver a record year in ad sales.”
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For the month of February, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was the second-most watched cable news program with 3,087,000 viewers, behind Fox’s “Hannity” (3,165,000) and ahead of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” (3,067,000).
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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