The Laura Ingraham Ad Boycott Is Still Going, But Fox News Isn't Budging

Laura Ingraham and David Hogg - Split - Getty - H 2018
Left, Tasos Katopodis, right, Kevin Mazur, both Getty Images

The network put out a fiery statement in defense of Ingraham, and she went on the offensive on Monday.

An effort to kneecap Laura Ingraham's television career has run into a stumbling block: Fox News, her employer, has demonstrated no interest in getting rid of her.

Ingraham's primetime show has been losing advertisers since March 28, when she mocked Parkland high school student and shooting survivor David Hogg on Twitter for getting rejected from four colleges he applied to. Her show has lost more advertisers over the last few days, as Blue Apron, SlimFast and Red Lobster have either pledged to pull advertising or confirmed it was already pulled.

Over the first three days of this week, her show has averaged only seven minutes of national paid advertisements per night, compared to the 15 minutes and 5 seconds of national ads that ran on her show each of the two nights prior to her tweet about Hogg, according to new data from research group Kantar Media. Her Monday show included 10 ads, her Tuesday show included 12 ads, and her Wednesday show included 11 ads, compared to the 31 ads that ran during her March 26 show and the 37 ads that ran during her March 27 show. Her Thursday show, however, was up, with 16 commercials airing.

Ingraham's top advertiser this week has been MyPilllow, which is run by an early supporter of Donald Trump's presidential campaign who has pledged to keep supporting Ingraham's show. "I make all of my advertising decisions based on what is best for MyPillow, my employees and my customers," said CEO Mike Lindell. Asked if he was surprised by the staying power of the boycott, he said, "I don't pay attention to what other advertisers are doing. I focus on what is best for MyPillow." 

Beyond apologizing to Hogg a day after her offending tweet, Ingraham has not done or said anything to stem the tide of advertiser defections. On Monday, her first day back on the air after taking off last week for a pre-planned Easter vacation, Ingraham did not directly address the controversy and spent much of her show attacking unidentified critics on the "Left" for trying to curtail the free speech of conservatives like her. (She retweeted The Hollywood Reporter's story noting that she "made no apologies" during the show.) On her show Thursday night, Ingraham criticized corporations "that just wilt" under pressure from "left-wing" activists, but did not name names.

Ingraham has been buoyed by a statement from a top network executive, Jack Abernethy, who said on April 2, the first day of her vacation, that she would most definitely return to the airwaves the following week. "We cannot and will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts," he said at the time.

Which all raises the question: Where does the campaign to oust Ingraham by depriving her employer of much-needed advertising revenue go from here? Hogg, who initially called for the boycott on Twitter and has perhaps the highest profile of the Parkland student activists, has not tweeted about Ingraham since April 2, when he retweeted his appearance on MSNBC to rebut former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's criticisms of the groups behind the boycott. (THR has sent questions to Hogg about the status of the boycott through a public relations agency representing him.)

A person familiar with Fox News' ad sales strategy said there's been no impact on the company's bottom line, as advertisers who have pulled out of Ingraham's show have either moved their spend to other shows or are holding the money in reserve.

"I don't think anybody is going to exit anymore," the person said. "I think people will start to return as the story dies down." (One advertiser, Ace Hardware, said on Thursday it had "incomplete information" when it publicly joined the boycott last week, and the company resumed advertising on the show this week.)

Explaining the lower amount of ad time during Ingraham's shows this week, the person said it changes from week to week, and can be done intentionally to help boost ratings.

SQAD, an organization that measures the cost of advertising, said that Ingraham's show has seen previous, week-over-week drops in price throughout the first quarter of the year that make the drop between last week (when she was on vacation) and this week seem less noteworthy.

Longtime New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott compared the effort to pressure Ingraham's advertisers to the campaign to oust O'Reilly, which was successful. "I think it's highly notable in that so many major brands have left her show, and it happened so quickly," he said.