Johnson & Johnson and Bayer Part of Fox’s Ingraham Advertising Boycott
More than a dozen advertisers have boycotted the Fox News show, “The Ingraham Angle,” after its host, Laura Ingraham, 54, bullied high school student David Hogg, 17, over several college rejections. Hogg is one of several survivors of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School who has been in the spotlight as an outspoken proponent of sensible gun control and reform. Two of the advertisers include Johnson & Johnson and Bayer.
On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 assault rifle to shoot students and faculty at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed and another 17 were wounded. A group of student survivors, including David Hogg, and Emma Gonzalez, 19, are leading a national protest movement over sensible gun legislation, especially through deft use of social media. Hogg, for example, has over 700,000 Twitter followers, and Gonzalez has over 1.5 million.
Hogg and Gonzalez, in particular, have been the targets of pushback by conservatives, with, for example, an image of Hogg on a gun target making the rounds of social media, and Gonzalez being attacked by a Maine State House Republic candidate Leslie Gibson, who called her a “skinhead lesbian,” and Hogg he called a “moron” and a “baldfaced liar.”
Hogg likely made the mistake of mixing his activist communications with personal communications, noting in a TMZ interview that despite a 4.2 GPA, he had been rejected by four of his top college picks. This prompted Ingraham to mock Hogg on Twitter.
He responded with a suggested advertising boycott of her show, which so far has led to over a dozen major brands pulling their advertising from the show, including Nestle, TripAdvisor, Office Depot, J&J and Bayer.
It’s not unprecedented. About a year ago, advertisers pulled their advertisings from Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s program in response to sexual-harassment allegations. Companies that were part of that boycott included GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Eli Lilly, BMW, Mitsubishi, Hyndai and Subaru.
Responses are mixed, of course. Many conservatives now argue that Hogg has become the bully and that Ingraham has freedom of speech behind her—something of a fundamental lack of understanding of the rights protected in the 1st Amendment.
As Michael Hiltzik, writing for the LA Times notes, “To begin with, the 1st Amendment isn’t implicated here. Hogg and Ingraham’s advertisers aren’t government entities, which are the only entities to which the amendment applies; nor does the 1st Amendment protect any speaker from the consequences of his or her words in the public marketplace of ideas. Second, not only is the call for a boycott not ‘completely un-American,’ it’s part of America’s democratic tradition, established by the Founding Fathers.”
Boston Tea Party, anyone?
Hiltzik points out that Ingraham has an audience of about 2.6 million with 2.2 million Twitter followers. Hogg currently has about 722,000 Twitter followers. Hilzik writes, “She’s an experienced media figure who spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2016; Hogg’s experience on the public stage is currently about six weeks old, dating to the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. What he possesses, and she doesn’t, is the canny ability to muster social media on his own behalf.”