By Peter Barry Chowka
A major social media backlash may have saved the Fox News host from another unfair leftist attack – but for how long?
An avalanche of mass defections of advertisers from Sean Hannity’s Fox News program appears to have been staunched – at least for the present. Over the weekend, initially five, and then more, major sponsors were about to bolt. On Monday, the CEO of the company in the forefront of the defections, Keurig Green Mountain, apologized for his company’s threat to quit running its commercials on Hannity’s show. With that move, the tide against Hannity appeared to be turning. At least that is how Hannity positioned the news.
Monday was a day of fast-breaking developments, with Hannity’s fans, social media, and Hannity’s four hours of live shows (radio and TV) in the forefront. The sponsor defections started to gain momentum on Sunday after Media Matters for America (MMFA), a well-funded, left wing not-for-profit anti-conservative group with a long enmity toward Hannity, weighed in. MMFA construed Hannity’s reporting on Judge Roy Moore as support for the embattled Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama. MMFA has been encouraging sponsors to desert Hannity’s shows for months, and Hannity’s attempt to cover the red hot Roy Moore story in a fair and balanced way gave Media Matters and its supporters a new opening to attack him.
Last Thursday, the Washington Post published an article alleging that Moore had engaged in inappropriate, or even illegal, intimate contact with teenage girls two decades his junior back in the 1970s. The following day, Hannity interviewed Moore at length by telephone on his afternoon radio show – putting Moore on the record for the first time since the Post story was published and created a firestorm.
On Saturday and Sunday, several advertisers of Hannity’s Fox News program let it be known that – at the instigation or encouragement of Media Matters – they would no longer run ads on his shows. It was a kind of guilt by association: Moore is looking increasingly unsuitable for the role as a U.S. Senator and Hannity, for having covered Moore, is guilty of something by association.
On Sunday and Monday, an unknown but large number of Hannity’s fans deluged social media with a backlash of tweets, hashtags, Facebook posts, and emails promising to boycott any sponsors who defected from Hannity’s program. Some of them produced videos showing the symbolic destruction of high-end coffee pod machines made by Keurig, the company that received the most publicity for its decision to drop Hannity.
On Monday morning, Keurig’s CEO Bob Gamgort issued a sort-of apology – his memo to employees was published by the Washington Post – blaming flawed internal policies for a corporate rush to judgment in the decision to cancel ads and promising to do better. The implication, without Gamgort explicitly saying so, was that Keurig would continue to sponsor Hannity’s television program.
Hannity took this news as a victory accountable to his strong stand in opposing the calls by the left for the censorship of conservative programs.
Around 2 P.M. E.S.T., an hour before his live radio show went to air, Hannity tweeted:
Hold on to your coffee machines
@keurig has recognized it got caught up & misled by a bigot
“Bigot” is Hannity’s term for his nemesis, Angelo Carusone, MMFA’s president. On Monday Hannity used his Twitter account to take direct aim at MMFA and Carusone.
During the last half hour of his 3-hour radio show Monday, Hannity delivered an impassioned monologue about the Moore story and his involvement in the coverage of it. A podcast of the broadcast “The Truth Behind the Hannity Attacks 11.13” is available here for free streaming or download as an mp3 file.
Hannity’s opening monologue on his prime time Fox News Channel program live at 9 P.M. E.S.T. also addressed the issues. He closed his show with these comments (a video of the entire program is here):
A special thank you again. What I saw on the Internet this weekend to push back against those who would silence conservative voices – it has moved and touched my heart and it has given me a resolve to fight harder. You give me this camera every night and microphone every day. I think you so much. Let not your heart be troubled.
As the new day Tuesday is beginning, it is unclear if the number of sponsors who are defecting from Hannity’s show is diminishing, has stabilized, or is continuing to mount. In an article on Monday afternoon, The Wrap put the number of sponsor defections at eleven. Included on the list is Keurig. Earlier on Monday there was breaking news that another woman had come forward, with the assistance of attorney Gloria Allred, to claim that Moore sexually abused her when she was a teenager. As the Alabama Media Group reported at al.com:
An Alabama woman, Beverly Young Nelson, today accused Roy Moore of groping and assaulting her about 40 years ago when she was 16.
Nelson alleges the assault happened when Moore was a 30-something-year-old prosecutor in the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office.
It’s clear that the larger story of Judge Roy Moore, which Hannity is now indelibly identified with, is not going away anytime soon.
By Peter Barry Chowka
A new radical left campaign targeting Hannity’s advertisers is aiming a “kill shot” at the conservative host. Will it succeed?
On Friday, November 10, Sean Hannity reported on the fast moving story involving Alabama Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Moore allegedly pursued inappropriate relationships in the late 1970s, when he was in his early 30s, with several teenage girls and had illegal sexual contact with one of them who was underage at the time.
Hannity’s telephone interview with Moore, broadcast live on his radio show and replayed later on his nightly Fox News Channel program, won more praise than might have been expected from a variety of analysts for asking Moore tough questions and for getting the former judge to go on the record in the first place. The interview represented Moore’s first spoken comments on the controversy since the story was first reported in the Post on Thursday.
Almost immediately, Hannity’s shows on Friday reignited efforts by enemies of his on the left, in particular Media Matters for America, to take him off the air via putting pressure on his sponsors to stop advertising on his show. Earlier attempts of this kind, including last May after Hannity reported on the unsolved murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, did not succeed.
But now, over the past weekend, according to Forbes, Deadline Hollywood, the Daily Caller, and hundreds if not thousands of other media outlets, this latest “kill shot” (as Hannity termed such efforts last May) aimed at the country’s #1 cable news host may be gaining traction.
CNBC reported on Sunday:
At least five companies said over the weekend that they will no longer advertise their products during Fox News’ “Hannity” television show. . . Keurig, Realtor.com, 23 and Me, Eloquii and Nature’s Bounty all pulled their ads from the television show, in response to Fox host Sean Hannity’s coverage of the sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Hannity, never one to support boycotts, has not specifically called for a boycott of the advertisers who are deserting him. Instead, he has posted tweets on his Twitter feed about his interest in what his fans and critics of the advertisers are doing.
Deplorable friends, I am buying 500 coffee makers tomorrow to give away!! Details on radio and TV. Hint; best videos!!
Channces are these will not be Keurig coffee makers.
Media Matters for America (MMFA), the far left group founded by David Brock to attack conservative media, is behind the boycott Hannity campaign. In fact, Keurig tweeted a thank you to MMFA’s president, Angelo Carusone, for calling Hannity’s coverage of the Moore case to the company’s attention:
Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention. We worked with our media partner and FOX news to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.
On his Twitter account, Hannity has tweeted a link to a Web site – registered to the domain angelocarusone dot com – that is titled and alleges “Angelo Carusone Exposed! Anti-Gay, Anti-Semitic and Racist.”
On Sunday, a counter campaign among Hannity’s supporters to boycott the boycotting advertisers – Keurig in particular – quickly took off on social media. As the work week starts today, the second large viral wave of coverage of this issue is mostly about the spread instigated by Hannity’s fans of boycotts of the advertisers who have ended sponsorship of his program.
The stakes in this emerging fight couldn’t be higher. Sean Hannity, and a handful of other high profile conservative hosts on Fox News, represent the last thin line in the mainstream media that is left standing against the almost universal fake news onslaught by the MSM aimed at taking down President Donald Trump. Last April, advertisers who deserted Fox News’ #1 program at the time, The O’Reilly Factor, after allegations of sexual harassment by host Bill O’Reilly resurfaced in the media, got the host of that program summarily fired in less than three weeks.
By Peter Barry Chowka
The cable news ratings wars – as predicted – heated up this past week as Fox News began introducing its revised prime time schedule, primarily by shifting Sean Hannity’s 10 P.M. E.T. show to 9 P.M. so he could challenge MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. As leaders of the anti-Trump “Resistance,” MSNBC and Maddow had grown their audience significantly since a year ago and Maddow had moved into the cable news lead with her nightly left wing anti-Trump attack show.
Meanwhile, Fox News, which had led the cable TV news ratings for fifteen years until earlier this year, was suffering this spring and summer after schedule upheavals resulting from the loss of major on-air talent and several of its its top executives after published allegations of sexual harassment and subsequent internal investigations.
Finally last Monday September 25, after weeks of behind the scenes maneuvering and negotiations, Fox News kicked off its new prime time lineup, primarily involvining Sean Hannity moving his program to 9 P.M. It will be complete on October 30 when Laura Ingraham launches her new nightly show at 10 P.M. E.T. and a new live news program anchored by Shannon Bream premieres at 11 P.M..
For the moment, though, all eyes have been on the new contest at 9 P.M. pitting Sean Hannity against Rachel Maddow. Previously, since May 1, the 9 P.M. hour on Fox News had been occupied by the ensemble left-right talk show The Five, featuring the insufferable left wing propagandist Juan Williams in a prominent role. Hundreds of readers commenting on my articles at American Thinker have targeted The Five and Williams in particular as unworthy of prime time and viewers across the nation apparently agreed since The Five was a ratings loser against Maddow. Meanwhile, Hannity, clearly a stronger contender, has pulled ahead of Maddow this week.
Hannity assembled a strong lineup of guests in his first week at 9 P.M. week to challenge MSNBC and he handily won every night in the ratings so far (Mon-Thurs) except that on Wednesday MSNBC tied Fox News at 9 P.M. in the “demo” (viewers 25-54). As Chris Ariens of TVNewser at Adweek reported in his article on Friday September 29, “Hannity Poised to Win the Week in New Timeslot.”
Big bookings by the team from Hannity will almost certainly make that show No. 1 across cable news this week.
In fact, Hannity’s guests this week all made news. Former White House advisor Steve Bannon on Monday in his first live cable news interview since leaving the White House in August. The unprecedented return of fired host Bill O’Reilly for a 25-minute long appearance on Tuesday. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in his office at the Capitol with Hannity on Wednesday. And Rush Limbaugh, the nation’s #1 radio talk show host, with Hannity in Florida on Thursday, with part two airing later on Friday.
In addition to the high-power guests, Hannity is now doing his show live five nights a week, which adds a more immediate, breaking news quality to the program. Both MSNBC and CNN air most of their prime time shows live. The numbers from this week tell the story. According to Early Nielsen Media Research (Nielsen has provided TV ratings since the 1950s), in the 9 P.M. E.T. hour Monday through Thursday this week:
FNC’s Hannity delivered 3,715,000 total viewers and 779,000 in ages 25-54 and 461,685 ages 18-49
CNN’s AC360 [and two nights of special town halls] delivered 970,000 total viewers and 341,000 in ages 25-54 and 281,437 ages 18-49
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show delivered 2,549,000 total viewers and 537,000 in ages 25-54 and 381,998 ages 18-49
Friday night’s ratings – and the final, entire week’s averages – won’t be available until next Monday October 2.
Ultimately, this is only one week out of the year. Experienced observers are cautioning that the winners in the battle for supremacy in cable news ratings overall, and the critical 9 P.M. hour in particular, will still probably shift back and forth in the weeks ahead. But even the MSM has been forced to admit that Fox News is off to a strong start. Sean Hannity, suggesting that he is taking the long view and is also confirming my impression of him that he is a man of considerable humility, replied to my email on Friday about the ratings success with this comment: “Thanks Peter. Although I know it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
Largely left in the dust, as it has been, is CNN, which is coming in a poor third with its schedule of prime time programs hosted by Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon. Each night, the two hosts’ shows feature panels largely made up of anti-Trump reporters and left wing Democrat Party activists. In August, CNN fired Jeffrey Lord, its most articulate conservative analyst, on the pretext that he had tweeted as satire a comment – a common greeting in Germany during the Nazi era – to a left wing activist with whom he was engaging in a twitter battle.
Stepping back for a moment, the big picture of the current cable news wars is this: The Shadow Government and its minions in the Deep State are targeting the media, both alternative and mainstream – for a take down, and they have had considerable success in turning the MSM into a one-voice echo chamber for continuous anti-Trump propaganda. This lack of diverse viewpoints in the MSM is unprecedented in modern times and presents an obvious danger to anything approaching fair and objective reporting. Recent studies by respected mainstream academic institutions have confirmedthat the MSM is tilting its coverage of President Trump so that it’s over 9 to 1 negative. Meanwhile, about one half (technically 52 percent negative to 48 percent positive) of the coverage of the Trump Administration at Fox News, true to its “fair and balanced” credo, has been negative.
Peter Chowka is a widely published author and journalist. He writes most frequently these days for American Thinkerand The Hagmann Report. His Web site is AltMedNews.net. Follow Peter on Twitter. Peter’s most recent video appearance on The Hagmann Report on September 19, 2017 can be watched here.