More Advertisers Pressuring Fox News Over Sean Hannity

CBS' 'Sunday Morning' screengrab
Sean Hannity

Several advertisers have pulled TV spots over the 'Hannity' host's reporting on Seth Rich, while conservatives are mounting a counter-boycott.

As more reporters and activists contact companies that advertise on Sean Hannity's television show, more companies are yanking their support for the conservative host whose coverage of a murder last year has irked liberal pundits.

By midday Thursday, Crowne Plaza Hotels, Cars.com, Ring.com, Leesa Mattress, USAA, Peloton and Casper have declared they'll not advertise on Hannity, which airs weeknights on the Fox News Channel.

Some websites like Mic Network and BuzzFeed keep a running list of companies that have pulled their ads from Hannity.

The host has been under fire from his political detractors for several weeks over his reporting on Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered a year ago.

While authorities have called the murder a robbery gone wrong, Hannity has been suggesting that the DNC worker might have been killed because he leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks.

His reporting sometimes sources WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has called Rich a "whistleblower" but hasn't said what he means by that description.

Progressive groups have been calling Hannity a conspiracy monger, and two days ago Media Matters for America published a list of about 125 companies that advertise on Hannity.

That same night, Hannity announced that, at the request of Rich's family, he would take a break from talking about the murder, though he would continue investigating. He also tweeted that that he is "closer to the truth than ever."

Fox News, meanwhile, appears to be backing off the story, proof being it retracted an online story that made many of the same assertions that Hannity has made multiple times on his TV show.

Hannity was unavailable for comment on Thursday as he is away from the network for vacation, the timing of which had some people speculating that Fox News was parting ways with him due to the controversy. 

Fox News, though, issued the following statement: "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."

Hannity has been noting the advertiser boycott by way of his Twitter feed, and seems to be blaming Media Matters, the same organization that, from time to time, has pressured companies to pull their support of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Don Imus.

"Liberal Fascsim," Hannity tweeted. "MMFA is targeting my advertisers to silence my voice. They hope to get me fired. Rush, O'Reilly, Beck, Imus, & now me."

None of the advertisers who have pulled their ads from Hannity thus far have mentioned his coverage of the Rich murder, and most are vague as to what they find offensive.

Crowne Plaza Hotels, for example, issued a lengthy statement to BuzzFeed that refer to "the airings," but nothing specific, and ends with: "We have no plans to advertise on Fox News for the foreseeable future."

USAA, which provides insurance and financial services to military families, tweeted that "advertising on opinion shows is not in accordance with our policy and we've since corrected it."

In the meantime, Mic Network notes that conservatives are mounting a counter-boycott aimed at the companies that have ditched Hannity

There are also a few companies who have issued statements saying they will not pull their ads. Mercedes-Benz told BuzzFeed, for example, that its "rule of thumb is that we do not pull our ads based on editorial content. Our feeling is that a variety of viewpoints is part of the natural discourse that takes place in a free media."

And media company REELZ addressed Hannity's coverage of the Rich murder explicitly by saying that: "Neither REELZ or its ownership or management has a position or informed opinion, one way or another, on Seth Rich or Sean Hannity. REELZ, along with its ownership and management, believes in free speech and does not participate in boycotts of any kind."

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