One of the worst weeks in Fox News’ history just got worse.
Protestors gathered outside the News Corp building in midtown Manhattan Wednesday morning to call on Fox News advertisers to stop working with the network.
“People are looking for a way to get involved and demonstrate that they don’t stand for this kind of toxic bigotry that poisons the media environment,” said Media Matters for America’s Madeline Peltz. “People don’t support the Fox News agenda. It doesn’t represent the values that most media consumers and voters are looking for.”
Peltz is the Media Matters researcher behind the Tucker Carlson audio stories that have rocked Fox News. She and other staffers listened to more than 100 hours of Carlson’s weekly calls into The Bubba the Love Sponge Show during the mid-2000s. In the audio, Carlson defends statutory rape, decries immigrants and referred to Iraqis as monkeys. (Carlson is now slated for a Bill O’Reilly-like “vacation,” though Fox News has stated its support for their primetime anchor.)
Media Matters headed the protest with several other organizations in attendance, including Free Press, Rise and Resist, Daily Kos, the Working Families Party and United We Dream, among others. By 11 a.m., there were roughly 30 demonstrators lined up along 6th Avenue. But within ten minutes the crowd easily tripled in size, belting out chants in front of a large group of press. Many waved #DropFox signs handed out by organizers, but some of the homemade signage was even better.
Media Matters’ audio release was only the latest of a series of blows Fox News suffered this month. A bombshell Jane Mayer New Yorker feature detailed how the network acts as the propaganda arm of the Trump administration and prompted the Democratic National Committee to drop Fox News as a media partner for a Democratic primary debate. The network had to apologize for host Jeanine Pirro’s Islamophobic rant about freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s “unconstitutional” hijab and potential adherence to sharia law. Fox’s statement admonished Pirro, but neither she nor Carlson have apologized.
“Fox News’ business model is a liability for everyone it comes in contact with,” Peltz said. “The systemic rot at the core of the organization has put them in this position where their advertisers are questioning whether they should be associated with the toxic brand.”
The Tucker Carlson audio is a high water mark for conservative media’s hypocrisy. Fox News and other right wing media organizations have exploited old audio and pictures for hit pieces conspiracy theories—think the Obama birther movement or James O’Keefe’s deceptively edited videos. Facing embarrassing audio from one of their own, they cry persecution from the liberal media and claim they were unfairly misrepresented. But Media Matters simply published Carlson’s quotes word for word. An advertiser boycott for Fox News isn’t persecution: it’s a market correction. The capitalism super-fans at Fox should be delighted to see the invisible hand of the free market at work.
The demonstration was an impressive showing given the time and location, as organizers and demonstrators alike made their message clear: advertising with Fox News means supporting racist, sexist, homophobic propaganda.
“We’re really happy with how things have gone today and we’re really happy with how the story got picked up,” Peltz said. “It got way bigger than we even thought.”