Over 40 progressive organizations, including the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and GLAAD, on Tuesday released an open letter urging media buyers not to buy advertisements on Fox News or risk damaging the reputation of their brands.
“Fox News has already made clear what you can expect from the network next year: more Tucker, more lies, more extremism, and more racism,” the groups say, according to an advance copy of the letter obtained by TheWrap. “Use this inflection point to quietly part ways with Fox News.”
The letter points to top-rated primetime programming from Tucker Carlson to make its case that the leading cable news network spent the past year “pushing deadly lies about COVID-19, routinely broadcasting racist rhetoric, and questioning the outcome of the election while putting democracy in peril.”.
Media Matters for America, long a critic of Fox News, organized the open letter and assembled a coalition of progressive partners that includes the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Center for Media and Democracy, CHANGE, Indivisible, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Sleeping Giants, UltraViolet and the Women’s March.
“When the next inevitable Fox News outrage emerges, the advertisers and media buyers that stuck with Fox News during this critical decision period will need to explain why they actively chose to continue to enable Fox News’ extremism,” Media Matters president Angelo Carusone told TheWrap Tuesday. “The advertisers that choose to recommit to Fox News will end up being the ones to pay the reputational price for Fox’s lies and extremism.”
A Fox News spokesperson told TheWrap Tuesday, “Fox News is about to close out its fourth consecutive year delivering new records in advertising revenue, so clearly Media Matters’ predictable ongoing partisan attacks have zero impact outside of their irrelevant echo chamber on social media..”
Fox News typically does very well in nabbing ad dollars thanks to its consistently high ratings. A 2020 Morning Consult poll found Fox News viewers were more likely to purchase a product seen on the network (with a 26% majority) than those watching competing channels like CNN (23%) and MSNBC (17%).
A 2021 Beta Research study found Fox News was one of the few cable channels ad executives were planning to spend more on this year. Last year, SMI found that ad spending on Fox News’ weekday primetime schedule was up 65% from the previous year.
In addition to periodic explosions of outrage over Carlson’s statements on COVID-19 vaccination and masking — which Carlson has likened to child abuse — Fox News was also the target of lawsuits stemming from coverage of the 2020 presidential election. Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems both sued the network. In December, Fox Business Network ran a fact-checking segment on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that was rebroadcast on Fox News Channel’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” hosted by Pirro, and “Sunday Morning Futures,” hosted by Bartiromo, through the weekend. (Dobbs’ show has been taken off the air since.)
Fox News said of the lawsuits, “Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”
“Given that for the past year, Fox News’ propaganda machine has been on overdrive — attacking our democratic institutions, fomenting political violence, undermining the public response to the climate and COVID crisis, and serving as a bullhorn for all manner of misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia — it is hardly surprising that there is a growing coalition rising up and demanding accountability,” Carusone said. “Civil rights groups recognize it. Racial justice groups recognize it. Environmental advocates recognize it. LGBTQ+ and feminist organizations recognize it,” he added.
In addition to the open letter, MMFA took out a full-page ad in AdWeek to make its case. “WARNING,” it says. “If you sponsor Fox News, your brand is in danger.”