Advertisers Begin to Pull Ads From Fox News' 'Hannity'
Cars.com and Peloton have exited Sean Hannity's show as the host continues his version of coverage of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer who was murdered a year ago.
Sean Hannity has lost two advertisers — Cars.com and Peloton — presumably over his coverage of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered a year ago.
Cars.com did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, though it issued a statement to BuzzFeed saying that after "watching closely" it has decided it will no longer advertise on Hannity, the conservative host's show on the Fox News Channel.
Peloton, a purveyor of exercise bikes, tweeted its decision directly to Hannity, Fox News and others: "We directed our media agency to stop advertising on Sean Hannity's show. This will take a few days to take effect."
The two advertisers made their decision one day after Media Matters for America published an article calling Hannity "a bigot, a sexist, and a conspiracy theorist." The article didn't explicitly call for a boycott, though it listed more 100 companies that advertise on Hannity.
Critics say Hannity's coverage of Rich has been conspiratorial, given that authorities have called his death the result of a robbery gone wrong while Hannity has suggested he was killed because he may have leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
Hannity said during his show Tuesday night that, out of respect to the Rich family, he would stop discussing the killing on his show, though he emphasized he would not stop investigating the murder.
He followed his show with a series of tweets on the subject, including: "Ok TO BE CLEAR, I am closer to the TRUTH than ever. Not only am I not stopping, I am working harder. Updates when available. Stay tuned!"
Another tweet referenced conservative hosts from the past who have dealt with boycotts orchestrated by Media Matters. "Liberal fascism. Mmfa is targeting my advertisers to silence my voice. They hope to get me fired. Rush, O'Reilly, Beck, Imus, & now me."
In his reporting, Hannity has cited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and notorious computer hacker Kim Dotcom, both of whom have insinuated that Rich may have been murdered for being a "whistleblower," as Assange put it, though neither of those sources have offered specifics or proof.
Fox News has also taken the unusual step of retracting a story that appeared May 16 at Foxnews.com that reported things very similar to what Hannity had been reporting on air, at least until Tuesday night's announcement that he would temporarily avoid the topic.
Neither Hannity nor Fox News responded to a request for comment.
BuzzFeed said it has so far called 50 of Hannity's advertisers to ask them if they'll continue to buy ads on the show.
According to BuzzFeed, the statement from Cars.com reads: "Car.com's media buy strategies are designed to reach as many consumers as possible across a wide spectrum of media channels. The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn't mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content. We don't have the ability to influence content at the time we make our advertising purchase. In this case, we've been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity."
Kim Guilfoyle of The Five will be filling in for Hannity while he takes a few days off. Hannity himself commented on the optics of the vacation, tweeting: "Uh oh My ANNUAL Memorial Day long weekend starts NOW. Destroy Trump/Conservative media breathless coverage starts! Did Hannity do last show?"
A Fox News spokesperson stated: "Like the rest of the country, Sean Hannity is taking a vacation for Memorial Day weekend and will be back on Tuesday. Those who suggest otherwise are going to look foolish.”
Uh oh My ANNUAL Memorial Day long weekend starts NOW. Destroy Trump/Conservative media breathless coverage starts! Did Hannity do last show?— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 25, 2017
May 25, 10:20 a.m. ET: Updated with Fox News statement