Is this the first time conservatives have successfully parried an organized liberal boycott? There have been boycotts from the left that failed, of course, but this one didn’t fail. USAA did pull its ads from “Hannity” under pressure from outlets like Media Matters over the Seth Rich stuff. And now, thanks to the Media Research Center and other right-wing media, they’re un-pulling them.
The closest thing I can think of to a successful counter-boycott was when some on the left wanted to boycott Chick-fil-A because the owner opposed gay marriage and conservatives vowed to eat there more often. But c’mon. It’s Chick-fil-A. We were looking for an excuse to eat there more often anyway.
The USAA financial services firm is reinstating its advertising on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel program after receiving heavy criticism for its initial decision from many of the military members and veterans that it serves…
Following Hannity’s reporting on a discredited conspiracy theory involving the death of a Democratic National Committee staff member, the liberal advocacy group Media Matters last week posted a list of his show’s advertisers — and USAA was one of 10 to say it was pulling its commercials. At the time, the USAA said the company’s policy was to avoid politically opinionated shows.
But many of USAA’s customers reacted angrily, and it didn’t help when the company’s advertising on other opinion shows was pointed out…
“We heard concerns from many members who watch and listen to these programs,” USAA said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our goal in advertising has always been to reach members of the military community who would benefit from USAA’s well-known commitment to service. Today, the lines between news and editorial are increasingly blurred.”
The defense was half-assed from the start. If USAA wanted to punish Hannity for pushing the Rich conspiracy theory, it should have been honest about it. Instead it tried to spin his viewers by claiming that they were simply uncomfortable advertising on “opinion shows,” which, um, obviously wasn’t true given how much advertising it did in MSNBC primetime. Once conservative sites began pointing that out, USAA tried to cover its tracks by pulling its ads from Rachel Maddow’s and a few other shows too. But of course that didn’t appease Hannity’s fans, who understood that he was in more danger from a targeted boycott than Maddow or any liberal was. So USAA had cut its advertising opportunities for nothing and still had a pissed-off right-wing customer base to deal with. I suppose they could have told the truth in the end, that they were anti-Hannity because of Seth Rich, but then that would have forced them to explain why Maddow’s own excursions into fantasyland aren’t cause for an advertising boycott.
According to Media Matters, there were 10 advertisers as of this afternoon who’d agreed not to run ads on Hannity anymore. Now there are nine. USAA is something of a special case, though: It serves military personnel and their families, who I’d bet are overrepresented among the conservative Fox News audience. The other nine may not face the same degree of financial risk in alienating Hannity’s viewers. Relatedly, rumors were kicking around this weekend that Hannity was weighing his future with Fox and might decide not to return from his Memorial Day vacation after all. If he’s destined to leave the network, that’s how it would happen — Hannity could drop Fox via the “key man” clause in his contract but it’s unthinkable after the O’Reilly mess that Fox would cross its longtime audience again by firing Hannity. As O’Reilly himself said today, “It’s the same thing, the far left going after him, trying to get him off the air… I think Hannity will survive because I don’t know if Fox can handle another shake-up like that.” Unless he’s planning a verrrrrry last-minute announcement that he’s left the network, Hannity should be back tonight with a new episode within the next few hours.