Three Boston-area businesses have dropped advertising from Fox News show “The Ingraham Angle” after host Laura Ingraham tweeted on March 28 that Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg was whining about college rejections.
Hogg responded to the tweet with a list of 12 sponsors of Ingraham’s show, calling on these advertisers and their customers to discontinue their support of her show.
Ingraham apologized Thursday, tweeting, “On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused [Hogg] or any of the brave victims of Parkland.” Despite this, at least 15 companies, including Boston-based Liberty Mutual, Wayfair and TripAdvisor, dropped their advertisements with her show.
Wayfair said in a statement that they support “open dialogue and debate” on different issues, however, Ingraham’s comments still prompted the company to pull their advertisements.
“… the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values,” the statement said.
After halting advertising on the show, a spokesperson from TripAdvisor told The Daily Free Press that Ingraham’s statements “focused on a high school student [and] cross[ed] the line of decency.”
On Friday, Liberty Mutual tweeted a message from Chairman and CEO David Long that said despite advertising for her show, Ingraham’s tweet does not reflect their values as a company.
“We are not scheduled to run any future ads on her show and will continue to analyze our advertising placements to make sure they align with our beliefs as a company,” the tweet read.
Sarah Rosen, 32, of South Boston, said she does not think any companies should advertise with Laura Ingraham’s show.
“No one should advertise with a person who uses her power to harass kids,” Rosen said. “Then, she just profits off her bigotry, which is not OK in my book.”
Now that advertising is no longer restricted to television and print publications, Michelle Amazeen, a Boston University professor of mass communication, said it is harder to control where a business’s ads show up on the internet or on social media.
Although Ingraham’s controversial comments backfired with these advertisers, Amazeen said these comments are also what attract her viewers, and subsequently advertisers looking to market to them.
“She’s a right-wing talking head that’s really driven by the cable news system that benefits from controversy,” Amazeen said. “So, having extreme views and saying controversial things gets certain types of people to watch your program or listen to your show.”
This is the kind of model that some cable news networks rely on, she said.
“Rather than relying on reporters who do investigative reporting or more traditional reporting, they create shows that are just based upon opinion,” Amazeen said.
This incident with Ingraham is similar to that of the far-right, syndicated news website Breitbart, Amazeen said, previously run by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Sleeping Giants, a social media activism organization, encouraged advertisers, such as Kellogg’s, to boycott Breitbart in September. However, Breitbart retaliated with a successful counter-boycott called #DumpKelloggs.
Contrastly, Amazeen said she does not believe Ingraham has the ratings or support to pull off a counter-boycott of the advertisers she lost, so she had no choice but to apologize and decide to choose her words more carefully in the future.
“I think she’s going to be more careful in what she says,” Amazeen said. “She may avoid certain topics. She may not talk about Parkland anymore.”
Jen Wilson, 29, of South End, said she is proud of the advertisers who withdrew their support from Ingraham’s show after she insulted Hogg.
“It says a lot about the way people are changing their thinking and how public perception is changing to have these advertisers pull out after Laura Ingraham targeted a kid like that,” Wilson said.
Andy Brenner, 48, of Fenway, said he thinks it is immature for an adult to publicly shame a child.
“The whole incident just showed how she’s a cruel, immature person,” Brenner said. “She just gives Fox a bad name and doesn’t deserve to have any of those advertisers.”