Tucker Carlson, Now on Vacation, Could Face More Advertiser Defections

Tucker Carlson - Getty - H 2018
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Amid the backlash to the host calling white supremacy a "hoax," Nestlé confirmed that it won't advertise on his Fox News show in the future.

Tucker Carlson, who abruptly announced plans for a vacation at the end of his Fox News show on Wednesday night, will not be hosting Tucker Carlson Tonight on Thursday. But he's surely hoping the show will feature a full load of advertisements, two days after he incited a fervent online backlash with a monologue dismissing the prevalence of white supremacy.

With the country still reeling from an apparently racism-inspired shooting in Texas on Saturday, Carlson called white supremacy a "hoax" and said "it is actually not a real problem in America." He also called it "a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power."

Carlson's remarks were swiftly condemned amid a new call for advertisers to back away from his primetime show. 

His Wednesday night show featured an advertising load (27 spots) that was in line with his previous week of shows (26 per night), though the episode leaned more heavily on so-called house ads for Fox programming, featuring nine such ads compared with an average of 5.4 for the previous week.

But, broadly speaking, Carlson's show has not seen the advertiser exodus he withstood in December, after he said that immigration makes the U.S. "dirtier," costing him more than 26 sponsors.

One major brand that advertised on Wednesday night's show, the meal kit service HelloFresh, said the spot "was placed through a remnant inventory advertising purchase." A spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that "this remainder buy is now complete and the ad is no longer running."

Nestlé, which has advertised the Proactiv skin-care product on Carlson's show in the last three months, told THR that it has no plans to do so in the future. "Nestlé does not currently advertise on Tucker Carlson Tonight nor do we have any plans to purchase ads on the show in the future," a spokesperson said.

Carlson, who is set to return to Fox News on Aug. 19, is unlikely to lose his perch at the network. In the last eight months, since his comments about immigration, the show has come to rely more on smaller direct-marketing companies that are less likely to cut ties, though a few major brands — such as StarKist, Sandals Resorts and Nutrisystem — have remained consistent advertisers.

On Thursday, a StarKist spokesperson confirmed the company plans to continue advertising on Carlson's show, saying, "We do not endorse individual opinions. Our television ads appear on a number of cable networks as part of our national media buy."

While Fox News has not commented publicly on criticism of Carlson's comments about white supremacy, a spokesperson told CNN that the host's vacation was preplanned and not in response to the backlash. In April 2018, the network put out a statement from executive Jack Abernethy confirming that host Laura Ingraham would return from a vacation that followed a firestorm she incited with dismissive comments about Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.

"We cannot and will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts," Abernethy said at the time. "We look forward to having Laura Ingraham back hosting her program next Monday when she returns from spring vacation with her children."

In March of this year, after Carlson faced backlash for comments he made many years earlier on a shock jock radio show, Fox News host Sean Hannity told viewers that his colleague had ditched plans for a weeklong vacation. "He's not going to take the mob's crap, and he came in to work to stand up to this," Hannity said.

On Wednesday night, Carlson informed viewers that he would be taking "several days off" to travel to the "wilderness" and fish for trout with his son. Carlson is an avid outdoorsman, and, according to a search of the LexisNexis database, has hunting and fishing licenses in Virginia, Oregon and Alaska.

A rep for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which places ads frequently on Carlson's show, says, "We use a broad spectrum of print, online and broadcast platforms to share our unique and integrative model of care with the diverse audience of those impacted by cancer. Our advertising role in no way reflects CTCA's support of the views expressed within these platforms. We will continue to review advertising decisions based on these criteria."