Executives with the Fox News network are attempting to downplay opinion show hosts like Tucker Carlson and get potential advertisers to focus on the network’s straight news talking heads to keep advertising money flowing.
With Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro under fire for offensive comments she made about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) about her religion and Carlson under attack for offensive comments he made about minorities, Iraqis, and women, the network could be facing more advertiser boycotts such as the one that almost led to the ouster of host Laura Ingraham after she mocked a survivor of the Parkland shooting.
At least 33 advertisers have recently cut ties with Carlson’s program in particular, according to Business Insider.
Bloomberg noted that the backlash comes at “an awkward time” for Fox. The network is scheduled to host advertisers in its studio on Wednesday.
“Fox News said it was looking forward to its advertiser presentation and wouldn’t be swayed by the campaign against Carlson,” Bloomberg reported.
Variety reported last month that the network was pitching shows hosted by news anchors like Martha MacCallum, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace instead of the inflammatory opinion shows that dominate evening programming.
“A new marketing slogan, ‘America Is Watching,’ has been trademarked and a map of the United States has been created showing that no matter whether the region tilts red or blue politically, Fox News is the most-watched cable-news outlet there – pressing against the notion that the network is only for conservatives,” the report stated.
According to a consultant working with the network, opinion shows grab the headlines but the ostensibly straight news programming is a major part of the network’s appeal.
“The opinion programming is incredibly popular, and steals the bigger part of the headlines,” explained Jason Klarman to Variety, but “literally more than two-thirds of the millions of people who come in and check out the channel every day are coming for the news programming.”
The report goes on to note that advertisers have become “leery of being called out on social media by advocacy organizations monitoring primetime advertising.”
(Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly suggested that Fox News executives rolled out their new pitch to advertisers following backlash against Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson.)