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The Problem with the Argument Against Protesting Tucker Carlson's Advertisers

By Dustin Rowles | TV | December 19, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | December 19, 2018 |


I am sure that you are aware that Tucker Carlson has seen an exodus of advertisers during the last few days over comments Carlson made on his primetime talk show. He said that immigration makes the United States “poorer and dirtier.”

“As an economic matter, this is insane. It’s indefensible so nobody even tries to defend it. Instead, our leaders demand that we shut up and accept this. ‘We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor,’ they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided. ‘Immigration is a form of atonement; previous leaders of our country committed sins, we must pay for those sins by welcoming an endless chain of migrant caravans.’ That’s the argument they make.”

On Monday, Carlson doubled down on his statements, and the backlash continued.

As of this morning, Tucker Carlson has lost 13 advertisers, including IHOP, Bowflex, and Jaguar. Several other advertisers, like Mitsubishi, Farmer’s Insurance, and Bayer have vowed to continue advertising on Carlson’s program. None of this, of course, is new to Fox News. When Fox didn’t fire Bill O’Reilly over his sexual misconduct settlements, the exodus of advertisers forced their hand. Similar boycotts were mounted against Sean Hannity after he pushed conspiracy theories about Seth Rich (he eventually apologized) and against Laura Ingraham over her comments concerning the high-school activists from Parkland (she, too, apologized).

Carlson, however, refuses to apologize, and Fox News continues to support him.

“We cannot and will not allow voices like Tucker Carlson to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts … Attempts were made last month to bully and terrorize Tucker and his family at their home. He is now once again being threatened via Twitter by far left activist groups with deeply political motives. While we do not advocate boycotts, these same groups never target other broadcasters and operate under a grossly hypocritical double standard given their intolerance to all opposing points of view.”

On social media last night, Nate Silver got into the fray about advertiser boycotts and took an unexpected side.

I don’t agree with Nate Silver here, but I’m somewhat sympathetic to his argument, particularly that last point. It’s true — it wasn’t that long ago when organizations like One Million Moms and people like Jerry Falwell organized massive advertiser boycotts at television shows with gay characters. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to Ellen after she came out on The Ellen Show back in the day. Advertisers like JCPenney and Chrysler pulled their ads for an episode that was seen by 42 million people.

But here’s where I draw the distinction: It’s not “political” to boycott Bill O’Reilly for repeatedly sexually harassing women, unless your “political” position is that men should be allowed to sexually harass women. It wasn’t political to boycott Laura Ingraham for bullying grieving high school students, unless your “political” position is that bullying the survivors of a school massacre in which 17 kids were killed is OK. And it’s not “political” to boycott Sean Hannity for making up conspiracies about a man that was murdered. In some of those cases, the goal may have been political gain, but the statements and actions themselves are not “political.” They’re hurtful. They’re insulting. They’re mean.

As for Tucker Carlson’s statements? Again, the end goal may be political — to discourage immigration — but the words being used are not “political.” They’re racist. There are legitimate political reasons to curb illegal immigration in America, but to object because refugees fleeing from violence in their home countries might make the United States “dirtier and poorer” is not a legitimate political reason. It is bigotry.

After Ellen Degeneres’ show ended a season after she came out, she responded to those who suggested that the show was canceled because it had gotten too political. “When I’m accused of being political,” she said. “I’m showing love. How is that political? How is that political to teach love and acceptance?”

That is exactly right: It’s not political to show love, nor it is political to express hate. I strongly dislike Tucker Carlson’s politics. But I’m not objecting to his politics. I’m objecting to his bigotry.

Header Image Source: Fox News