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Fox’s ‘Hannity’ Loses Advertisers Over Coverage of Debunked Story

31 May, 2017 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Some advertisers are balking at Fox News after one of the network’s personalities, Sean Hannity, refused to back down on a debunked conspiracy theory that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered for leaking DNC emails to Wikileaks, even after Fox News said the report lacked journalistic integrity.

Hours after the Fox News retraction, Hannity said, “I am not or I retracted nothing.”

Reportedly,, mattress marketers Casper and Leesa Sleep, cycling studio Peloton, video doorbell maker Ring, and Crowne Plaza Hotels were backing out of sponsoring Hannity’s program. And the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), the financial service company for the military, tweeted in response to a customer complaint about USAA being a “Hannity” advertiser: “Advertising on opinion shows is not in accordance with our policy and we’ve since corrected it.” However, on Tuesday, USAA reversed course, announcing its return to the program.

Ad Age says this backlash is unlikely to result in a firing - like what happened to former Fox host Bill O’Reilly and due to repeated revelations of multimillion-dollar sexual harassment allegation settlements.

TV ad analytics firm, reports that the top three marketer sectors backing “Hannity” since the start of 2017 are automakers, weight-loss brands, and insurance companies. By estimated spend, Jenny Craig is the top individual advertiser. ExxonMobil also ranks high on the program.

Adam Buckman, a columnist with MediaPost News, says advertisers that may now be contemplating withdrawing their commercials from “Hannity” are exhibiting “a conscientiousness about the environment” for their messages that was heretofore undetectable.

“On the one hand, this strikes me as hilarious – that advertisers would get bent out of shape over Hannity and not the scores of other shows in which their messages appear,” Buckman writes. “On the other hand, calls for advertiser boycotts strike me as a form of censorship. With so much extreme content on TV these days that seems acceptable to advertisers, shouldn’t advertising decisions be agnostic and not based on the contents of TV shows?”

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