As Donald Trump’s popularity continues to collapse, and even many conservative Americans are beginning to support movements like Black Lives Matter, the hosts on Fox News have two choices. They can begin to incrementally evolve themselves, in order to match their incrementally evolving audience. Or they can histrionically double down on racist hysteria, like Tucker Carlson has been doing this week, and begin paying the price accordingly.
No matter what your ratings are, you can’t survive as a cable news host if your advertisers start abandoning you, because your show stops being profitable. We saw that when Bill O’Reilly started bleeding advertisers after his sexual misconduct came to light. To that end, Tucker Carlson – who has spent the past week telling his audience that black people are coming to get them – has lost several major advertisers today.
Media Matters says that Carlson has now lost T-Mobile, Disney, Papa John’s, and Vari (Update: SmileDirectClub has clarified that they ceased advertising on the show in May, for reasons that are not related to current events). Fox News will attempt to replace these advertisers with new ones. But with so many companies now boycotting Carlson’s show, Fox will have to significantly reduce the ad rates in order to attract new clients. His show will end up being full of no-name advertisers who are paying very little for the slot.
If Tucker Carlson’s show becomes unprofitable enough, Fox News will cancel him, because it can’t afford to have a primetime hour that loses money. We’ll see if the growing advertiser boycott puts Carlson past the cancellation threshold or not. But this is a major blow for him. The key will be to keep up the pressure on Carlson’s racism, so the advertisers that are abandoning him today can’t just quietly come back to him in a month once everyone has stopped paying attention.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report