It wasn’t a great weekend for Sean Hannity.
The Fox News host, whose syndicated radio show airs daily in Philadelphia on 1210 WPHT, is facing pressure from a handful of advertisers following his coverage of Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.
At least six companies, including plus-size clothing retailer Eloquii and coffee maker Keurig, said over the weekend they will no longer advertise during Hannity’s popular show on Fox News, largely due to pressure on social media from the liberal media watchdog Media Matters.
Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.
“Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention,” Keurig tweeted in response to a message from Media Matters president Angelo Carusone. “We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.”
Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention. We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.
— Keurig (@Keurig) November 11, 2017
Eloquii announced on Twitter that Hannity is blocked from the company’s advertising list.
Hi there! Hannity is blocked from our advertising list. If we can help with anything else, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.
— ELOQUII (@ELOQUII) November 10, 2017
Other companies to announce their decision on Twitter to no longer advertise on Hannity’s show include E*Trade, Nature’s Bounty, 23andme, Green Mountain Coffee and Realtor.com. None of the companies immediately responded to a request for comment.
A seventh company, Realtor.com, initially said on Twitter it was “not currently, and will not be running TV ads on Hannity.” But according to a source within the company, the message was sent in error and the company will continue to advertise on Hannity. In a statement to Philly.com, the company said, “We will continue to place ads across a broad range of networks, including Fox News and its top shows.”
Criticism of Hannity’s decision to defend Moore against allegations made in a lengthy Washington Post report reached their peak on Thursday, after it appeared Hannity referred to the alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old as “consensual” on his radio show.
On his Fox News show that evening, Hannity apologized to viewers, explaining that he was referring to Moore’s alleged interactions with 17- and -18-year-old, since the age of consent in Alabama is 16.
“That one line was absolutely wrong,” Hannity said. “I misspoke.”
The new advertising losses come amid an ad revenue decline of 17 percent in September for Fox News compared to last year, according to Standard Media Index numbers reported by TVNewser. By comparison, CNN was down just 1 percent, while MSNBC rose their ad revenue by 2 percent.
Back in May, Hannity lost seven advertisers, including Cars.com and Mercedes Benz, after pushing a baseless conspiracy theory involving Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in Washington D.C. in July 2016. Hannity continued to promote a retracted FoxNews.com story that Rich might have been murdered for releasing DNC emails to Wikileaks, which would seemingly disprove intelligence assessments that Russia hacked the emails.
In an interview with the Huffington Post following the initial boycott, Hannity said Media Matters was trying to force him off the air by sharing a list of advertisers on his Fox News show.
“There’s nothing that I did, nothing that I said, except they don’t like my position politically,” Hannity said. “They’ll try to ratchet up the intensity of their rationale. It does not justify an attempt to get me fired. And that’s what this is. This is an attempt to take me out. This is a kill shot.”
According to Media Matters, there are over 200 companies that advertise on Hannity’s show, though more than half haven’t run an ad in the last month.
The moves didn’t come without some backlash. After Keurig announced it was pulling its advertising, Hannity shared and endorsed videos of viewers smashing their coffee makers. One Hannity fan smashed his Keuirg with a hammer, while another threw his from a second-story balcony.
— Angelo John Gage (@AngeloJohnGage) November 12, 2017
This decision is disgusting, and will not be tolerated.
Regardless of any response, I am done with you, Keurig.
— Mike (@Fuctupmind) November 12, 2017
Hannity called the videos “hilarious” and “so so funny!” and promised to address Kuerig’s decision directly on Monday.
Deplorable friends, I am buying 500 coffee makers tomorrow to give away!! Details on radio and TV. Hint; best videos!!
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 13, 2017
Despite Hannity’s flippant response, advertising boycotts are no laughing matter at Fox News. Bill O’Reilly, once the network’s most bankable personality, was fired back in April after a growing number of advertisers departed from his popular show after the New York Times revealed five former Fox News personalities were paid $13 million to settle claims of sexual and verbal harassment against him. O’Reilly continues to deny any wrongdoing.
Nate Silver, who runs ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis website, said he didn’t have to consider Hannity a journalist to question the effects an advertising boycott being pushed by partisan interests could have on the larger community of journalism.
“If you like journalism, you probably shouldn’t encourage boycotts of advertisers on programs whose politics you don’t like,” Silver wrote on Twitter.
If you like journalism, you probably shouldn't encourage boycotts of advertisers on programs whose politics you don't like.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 13, 2017