Those who choose to promote the boycott of Fox News host Tucker Carlson for allegedly offensive remarks he issued about illegals immigrants earlier this month do so at their own peril, libertarian journalist Jack Shafer argued this week in a column for Politico.
And this risk applies to everybody, including competing networks such as CBS News, which some on the right are claiming has been unabashedly downplaying the maliciousness of the boycott.
According to the media watchdogs with NewsBusters, the network ran a report about the boycott that they claim was tinged with bias against Carlson.
The report began with correspondent Jericka Duncan announcing, “When Fox News host Tucker Carlson made those comments last Thursday, critics called for advertisers to pull their ads. On Monday, Carlson said he will not back down.”
NewsBusters notes that Duncan neglected to mention to her audience that the so-called “critics” are in fact radical far-left groups such as Moveon.org, Media Matters and Sleeping Giants.
Listen to Duncan’s full report below:
She then listed those advertisers who have dropped Carlson’s show, including IHOP, and those who’ve chosen to stick with the constantly beleaguered Fox News host, including Mitsubishi and Bayer.
This time Duncan neglected to mention IHOP’s hypocrisy. Despite boycotting Carlson over his allegedly offensive remarks, the restaurant chain continues to conduct business with Saudi Arabia, i.e. the same Saudi Arabia known for its near-endless criminal rights violations.
“Carlson maintains his comments were in response to seeing debris in Tijuana where the migrant caravan is camped out,” she added without providing any additional context.
On Wednesday the Fox host explained that when he had asserted that allowing “the world’s poor” to illegally immigrate to the United States would make America “poorer, and dirtier and more divided,” he had been referencing the behavior of the migrant caravan in Tijuana as described by a local delegate.
“That was in context of a conversation with an elected official in Tijuana about the filth of his city, and he was complaining about how dirty it had become, which was a byproduct of the policy decisions pushed by the American left,” he said during a discussion with attorney Alan Dershowitz.
“And I noted there is a lesson there perhaps for us. I would never describe people as inherently dirty. I don’t think they are, I’m pro-people. That’s why I’m against abortion. Strongly.”
Duncan neglected to mention any of these added details.
Selective reporting like this suggests CBS News supports the boycott, according to NewsBusters. But if that’s really the case, then the network might want to rethink its decision.
Politico’s Senior Media Editor Jack Shafer admits that he’s no fan of Tucker Carlson’s show but warned against the growing practice of boycotting advertisers:
As much as the Carlson show pains me, the calls by activists for an advertiser boycott pains me more. As I wrote in 2017 when Fox’s Bill O’Reilly faced similar calls for an advertiser boycott, I’m made queasy by crusades that charge corporate advertisers with the power to decide what ideas should be discussed and how they should be discussed.
Seriously, I barely trust IHOP to make my breakfast. Why would I expect it to vet my cable news content for me?
Both good journalism and bad journalism create controversy. But it’s always a mistake to stamp out controversy with a censor’s heel. Nate Silver put it better than I can in a Tuesday evening tweet: “The logical endpoint of deeming advertisers to have endorsed the political messages of the shows they run ads on is that only milquetoast both-sidesism with a pro-corporate bent will be advertising-supported, if any political content is ad-supported at all.”
Shafer argues that the big picture is not being considered when these reactionary boycotts take place, and the movement is doomed to backfire.
“Ideally, journalists are independent of the companies that buy the advertisements adjacent to their copy. But then advertisers are independent, too — of the journalists whose pages and minutes they subsidize with ads. The boycotters don’t see that independence,” Shafer opined.
The risk, he argued, is the “media wreckage” that could ultimately manifest if the boycotters attitude’ is adopted not only by advertisers but by publishers as well.
“Advertisers tend to be timid, overreactive, running from controversy and conflict, and in times of perceived crisis, their timidity spreads to publishers, which is bad for journalism,” he explained.
“It’s easy to imagine today’s boycotts turning into tomorrow’s blacklist. Students of the McCarthyite 1950s can tell you all you want to know about the hundreds of blacklisted performers and entertainers who were barred from work for years because of their political transgressions.”
Yet McCarthyism appears to be exactly what the far-left seeks, albeit only against its political opponents. When it comes to their political allies, the game plan seems to change drastically, as noted by the Fox News host’s supporters on social media:
Mika Brzezinski uses gay slur on MSNBC and gets off easy
– Tucker makes a harmless comment and loses 20 advertisers
– and Fake News CNN is the biggest facilitator of hypocrisy, McCarthyism & double standards
— cole755 (@cole755d) December 20, 2018
Double standards! Tucker Carlson isn’t the only one who said questionable things…but I guess he doesn’t follow the right ideology. H.Clinton has just said that all black people look alike & Louis Farrakhan calls Jews, Termites…crickets…
— Natalie ? (@NatiSchnati74) December 20, 2018
I find it amazing that the View and Morning Joe still have advertisers. Oh yeah, they’re liberal shows and they can say whatever they want. Such a double standard. I’m with @TuckerCarlson and @megynkelly
— Michelle Keys (@MikieK) December 20, 2018
Why don’t advertisers bail on worst journalist of the year, Don Lemon, worst journalist of the year? He’s talked so much trash on whites. Same with NY times for employing racist Sarah Jeong. So hypocritical. I’m not even Republican and I see the double standard. So wrong.
— jflo (@jflojabroni) December 19, 2018
But wait a second? Has any advertisers pulled out of Mika? A little double standard going on here. Just like Maher saying the “N” word . Crickets from advertisers or liberals. double standard. Carlson said illegal immigrants are dirty. Hm. Btw he’s right
— paul monacelli (@monacelli_paul) December 18, 2018
Shafer’s point was that if this culture of political correctness and boycotts is allowed to continue festering, a point will come when everybody — regardless of political affiliation — will be affected.
“If we’re going to interpret ads as forms of validation for content the ads are adjacent to, does that mean Staples and Comcast, both of which advertised in today’s Washington Post, endorse the Post’s news coverage and opinion columns, or that Bloomingdale’s and Johnson & Johnson approve of the editorial drift of the New York Times because they just took out full-page ads?” he asked.
And what about CBS News, which is currently embroiled in a scandal over the sexually abusive behavior of disgraced former CEO Les Moonves? Do its advertisers endorse his behavior?
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