Dear Fellow Conservatives:
Even my former CNN colleague Brian Stelter is getting uneasy. As reported here at Mediaite:
“Are ad-boycotts the right answer here?” Stelter asked his guests on his Reliable Sources show. “I’m personally pretty wary of this. I think it’s dangerous to see these ad boycott attempts happening more and more often in this country. My view is let’s not shut down anyone’s right to speak. Let’s meet their comments with more speech. Let’s try to respond that way.”
Good for Brian.
Frankly? I have had it with the goons.
I hope you have too.
This time? This time it’s the campaign to shut down Laura Ingraham on Fox. The last time the target was Sean Hannity. Before that was the move to do in Bill O’Reilly, Stop Rush, Drop Dobbs, and Stop Beck. And oh yes… I forgot the end of my own time at CNN, when I was dropped because I had called attention in a column in this space to just this issue of free speech and a free press, and quite specifically had the nerve to point out the repeated flagging of Media Matters (by liberal Alan Dershowitz, among others) for anti-Semitism.
By now it should be crystal clear to every conservative — no matter whether they are Pro-Trump, Never Trump, pro-this or anti-that — what is happening in America. Any conservative on television or radio or in fact with any audience of any kind, as in a speech invite to a college campus — is now a target for silencing. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines — and note well the dates.
“Drop Dobbs”: CNN Pressured To Give Up Controversial Host
CNN is facing pressure on a number of fronts to drop Lou Dobbs from their roster of on-air talent.… Leading the way in this effort are a coalition of organizations united under the “Drop Dobbs“ banner, including Media Matters for America, the National Council of La Raza, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the New Democrat Network, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Writing for Media Matters’ County Fair blog, John V. Santore sums up their beef:
“For years, Lou Dobbs has been one of the most dangerous hosts on cable news.”… If CNN won’t drop Dobbs, it’s time that his advertisers did. It’s time to do more than simply highlight the damage Dobbs does and the threat he poses. We must demand accountability from the advertisers who, by their purchase of airtime on his shows, actively support his hate speech.
Lou Dobbs Abruptly Quits CNN
On Wednesday one of the groups, Presente.org, which had called on CNN to fire the anchor, declared a “victory.”
Roberto Lovato, a co-founder of the group, said, “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has this legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate.”
Exclusive: Law student puts price tag on Glenn Beck’s words
Critics say (Angelo) Carusone (now of Media Matters) is trying to stifle Beck’s constitutionally-guaranteed free speech. Carusone, however, says he’s not telling Beck what he can and can’t say, only holding advertisers accountable for supporting his program. But his campaign is an effort to target Beck’s words using advertising dollars as leverage.
Glenn Beck explains why he’s leaving Fox, compares himself to Paul Revere
The parting comes after weeks of speculation about the rocky relationship between Fox and Beck over advertisers and ratings.
On and on this has gone, always with the same pattern. Target Conservative X — and then go after their advertisers/sponsors.
Meanwhile, conservatives who do not have prominent shows but rather appear on the speaking circuit run into a version of the same anti-free speech, anti-free press jihad. Here’s a headline and story from 2017 about conservative Ben Shapiro’s prospective speech at Berkeley, the one-time home of the “free speech” movement:
Berkeley prepares for Ben Shapiro speech with pepper spray, concrete barriers and lots of police
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro is set to speak on campus Thursday evening, and authorities and administrators are desperate to avoid a repeat of the violent, destructive clashes that have erupted at similar events in recent months.
The storied liberal university and birthplace of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s has become a battleground for extremists on the political left and right since President Trump’s election in November. Peaceful protests on and around campus have given way to riots, with black-clad anarchists fighting in the streets with right-wing demonstrators. Protesters have attacked police, smashed windows and set fires, causing more than $100,000 in property damage.
…..In an extraordinary move, the Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 this week to allow the police department to fire pepper spray at violent protesters, ending a two-decade-old city ban on using the weapon in such circumstances, as the East Bay Times reported. Police can also fire tear gas canisters to control crowds from greater distances.”
Then there was that episode at Middlebury College with Charles Murray. The headline:
A Violent Attack on Free Speech at Middlebury
Peter Beinart, a former CNN colleague of mine and a decided liberal, nonetheless was horrified at what happened and wrote it up in the Atlantic. Writing in part:
To appreciate the ugliness of what transpired at Middlebury, however, one needs to look not merely at the principles involved, but at the specific sequence of events. In its letter to the campus explaining its invitation to Murray, the AEI club declared that it “invites you to argue.” It invited a left-leaning Middlebury professor, Allison Stanger, to engage Murray in a public conversation following his talk, thus ensuring that his views would be challenged. In his introduction to Murray’s speech, a representative from the AEI club implored his fellow students to debate Murray rather than shouting him down.
… As Murray approached the podium, dozens of students in the audience turned their backs, loudly read a prepared statement, and then began chanting “Hey, hey ho ho, Charles Murray has got to go,” “Your message is hatred, we cannot tolerate it” “Charles Murray go away, Middlebury says no way” and finally, “Shut it down.”
After close to twenty minutes of this, a university representative came on stage to announce that, if the students did not relent, Murray and his interlocutor, Professor Stanger, would move to a secret location, from which their conversation would be broadcast. Professor Stanger then took the microphone and asked the students, “Can you just listen for one minute.” Many in the audience replied, “no.” She added that, “I spent a lot of time preparing hard questions.” Finally, she conceded that, “You’re not going to let us speak.” As the university representative announced that Murray and Stanger would move to a different location, the crowd began shouting, “Where are you going?”
Somehow, they found out. Because when Murray and Stanger finished their dialogue, they found themselves surrounded by protesters. The protesters—some of whom were wearing masks and may not have been Middlebury students—began pushing them. When Stanger tried to shield Murray, according a Middlebury spokesman, a protester grabbed her hair and twisted her neck.
Murray, Stanger and their escorts made it to a waiting car, but the protesters “pounded on it, rocked it back and forth, and jumped onto the hood,” according to The New York Times. One took a large traffic sign, attached to a concrete base, and placed it in front of the car to prevent it from leaving.
Finally, Murray and Stanger got away. They had planned to eat dinner at a local restaurant, but, upon learning that the protesters planned to disrupt their meal, left town altogether. Stanger later went to the hospital, where she received a neck brace.
And of course, there’s Ann Coulter. The headline from April of 2017 in the Washington Post:
Ann Coulter speech at UC Berkeley canceled, again, amid fears for safety
The story begins:
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said Wednesday that her planned speech at the University of California at Berkeley this week was canceled amid mounting concerns about potentially violent protests.
Back to media hosts. As I noted back in 2012, there was “The Plot to Get Rush” led by Media Matters. The objective, target Rush’s advertisers. It failed. In spite of a lot of crowing that advertisers were leaving Rush en masse, his own audience fought back — and the campaign crashed.
Now? This time the target is Laura Ingraham. Following the mildest of tweets to Parkland student activist David Hogg that focused on his own remarks that he had been rejected by various colleges — the latter a completely normal, average fact of life forever and a day for millions of American high school students. For this, the move is now on to force Laura from her show.
Bill O’Reilly has posted this on his No Spin News website:
There is no question that if you are a conservative commentator in America, elements on the far left will try to harm you. The Laura Ingraham situation clearly illustrates what is going on.
A few weeks ago, Laura was branded a racist for opining that LeBron James and other athletes should not use their athletic platforms to talk politics. That is an opinion that millions of Americans hold.
Now, Ms. Ingraham faces a sponsor boycott for telling an activist anti-gun high school student to stop whining about his college admission woes.
That tweet was ill-advised and Laura has apologized. But know this: the sponsor boycott is not some spontaneous uprising by companies. It is being directed by powerful, shadowy radical groups who want Laura Ingraham off the air. Same thing happened to me.
But what happens in the reverse? As Ben Shapiro astutely pointed out, CNN’s Joan Walsh took to twitter to attack another Parkland student — this one the anti-gun control Kyle Kashuv. Young Mr. Kashuv disagrees with fellow student young Mr. Hogg. He has been invited to the White House and met with the President and Mrs. Trump. He has made media rounds, although bumped from a CNN appearance. When Kashuv was attacked on Twitter, Walsh sarcastically tweeted out to Kashuv. “Good luck handling your stress.” Response from CNN? Silence. Response from advertisers? Silence.
But Kyle Kashuv has stepped forward to highlight that refusing to sit back and take it is perhaps the answer. Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald was an MSNBC contributor until just last month. His tweet to Kashuv was, unlike Laura’s to Hogg, decidedly hostile. It read:
Kyle…you continue to disappoint. Trafficking in fantasies, fine. Your followers are infantile, your only form of debate is insult. And you wonder why I have no respect for you.
Eventually Eichenwald withdrew the tweet and apologized. Yet Kyle responded in the style of the Ingraham critics — calling for an advertiser boycott of MSNBC. One advertiser, Proactive, promptly responded, issuing a statement that read: “We are aware of this incident and have pulled our ads from the network as a result.”
Perhaps the fact that this game can be played by conservatives as well is what got Brian Stelter’s attention.
As is quite clearly demonstrated, when it comes to a war on conservatives in the media or the public spotlight? Lou Dobbs became Glenn Beck who became Rush Limbaugh who became Bill O’Reilly who became Sean Hannity who is Ben Shapiro, Charles Murray, or Ann Coulter who is now Laura Ingraham.
But I would suggest this problem isn’t with just the Media Matters of the world. The other day, after first reports were in on Roseanne Barr’s sky-high ratings with her new show that featured her as a Trump supporter in a politically diverse family, Rush Limbaugh said this, bold print for emphasis supplied, when talking about media executives:
And do not ever underestimate the power of class. I don’t mean high class, lower class. I mean elites versus regular, nonelites, special people versus the rabble, that kind of class distinction. And the elites in this country despise Donald Trump, and there’s nothing that’s ever gonna change that. The elites are never gonna accept Trump, they’re never gonna like him, they’ve gone way too overboard now. There’s no room for ’em to come back.
I would suggest that not only is Rush correct about the media elites in terms of Roseanne’s show, but that what he is saying applies to the executive suites of all those advertisers who turned on Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, and tried to turn on Rush himself as well as Sean. Now these elites in these advertising suites are turning on Laura. Examples?
As I noted in the Stop Rush campaign, these advertisers — behind the scenes — can be incredibly hostile to conservatives. Example? I had started checking one of Rush’s sponsors, who made much of pompously leaving the show. What did I find? The advertiser had been a contributor to MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, and Democracy for America — all three George Soros-funded groups, the last one established by Howard Dean, the former presidential candidate and DNC chairman. He was also a contributor to a group calling itself “Texans for Truth” — a group set up in 2004 to go after then-President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. In the day the Bush-Cheney campaign had attacked the group as “a smear group launching baseless attacks on behalf of John Kerry’s campaign that will be rejected by the American people.”
And today? One of the sponsors making much of leaving Laura Ingraham is Stitch Fix, and they list as a member of their executive team an executive — I will leave her unnamed — who is listed at the Federal Election Commission as, yes indeed, a Hillary Clinton contributor.
Then there’s one Niraj Shah, the Massachusetts billionaire who is a co-founder of Wayfair, another vanished Ingraham sponsor. He is a player in the Massachusetts Republican Party, aka a Mitt Romney-style kinda guy with an Ivy League education who lives in the heart of conservative America — Boston. (Just kidding.) Shah tweeted this out about Laura:
Hey @Wayfair it’s me, Niraj Shah, the co-founder and CEO apparently. Just found out we’re a top advertiser for a person who enjoys mocking massacre survivors and I gotta say, not so crazy about that
One suspects Mr. Shah isn’t so crazy about a lot more in the conservative, working class America to which, interestingly, he is selling furniture online.
Perhaps the most astonishing name of an advertiser pulling ads from Laura’s show is Entertainment Studios, the producer of the new movie Chappaquiddick, the behind-the-scenes tale of the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s scandal from 1969. I say astonishing because here is this story from Variety about the film:
‘Chappaquiddick’: ‘Powerful People’ Pressured Studio Not to Release Film, CEO Says
Catch this quote from CEO Byron Allen:
“Unfortunately, there are some very powerful people who tried to put pressure on me not to release this movie,” Allen said. “They went out of their way to try and influence me in a negative way. I made it very clear that I’m not about the right, I’m not about the left. I’m about the truth.”
In other words? Various “powerful people” were trying to do to Byron Allen exactly what Byron Allen is now turning around and doing to Laura Ingraham. Amazing.
The point is simple. If one were to be a fly-on-the-wall in the executive suites of these advertisers making so much of being offended by Laura’s tweet, it is not hard to imagine that they are kissing cultural cousins to those astonished Hollywood execs who are astonished at Roseanne’s success.
Conservatives? If I may direct this question to conservatives everywhere, famous and unknown, isn’t it time to do something here? The hard fact is this kind of what Ben Shapiro accurately calls “fascism” will continue until conservatives collectively rally and say: Enough!
One thing that Media Matters has been wonderfully helpful with is keeping track of just which advertisers of conservative media advertise where. In this case they have been on the job in telling conservatives who we should contact to perhaps give these advertisers a taste of their own intolerant medicine. Check here and you will find the Media Matters list of Laura’s advertisers, along with the word “statement” if they have decided to advertise their own anti-free press instincts. As this is written, here are those companies that have put statements out defending their decision to join in on trying to bully the latest conservative host off the air, with the number of times they have advertised on Laura’s show. The list of advertisers who have said nothing yet is longer and found with the link.
Claritin (Bayer) (7 times) (Statement)
Liberty Mutual (7 times) (Statement)
Chappaquiddick Movie (Entertainment Studios) (7 times) (Statement)
Jenny Craig (5 times) (Statement)
Nutrish (5 times) (Statement)
Atlantis (4 times) (Statement)
Jos. A. Bank (4 times) (Statement)
Wayfair (4 times) (Statement)
Honda (3 times) (Statement)
Principal (3 times) (Statement)
Ruby Tuesday (3 times) (Statement)
Stitch Fix (3 times) (Statement)
TripAdvisor (3 times) (Statement)
Dr. Scholl’s (Bayer) (2 times) (Statement)
Alka Seltzer (Bayer) (1 time) (Statement)
Expedia (1 time) (Statement)
Office Depot / Office Max (1 time) (Statement)
One-A-Day Vitamins (Bayer) (1 time) (Statement)
In sum? Conservatives? I would respectfully suggest enough is enough. No matter what companies like Wayfair or Stitch Fix or others say, they have signed up with a radical, left-wing elitist movement that has, precisely as Bill O’Reilly has noted, is dedicated to targeting conservative commentators to get them off the air while others are trying to keep conservatives off podiums. Laura’s mildest of tweets to David Hogg is merely the latest excuse for doing this. The excuse always changes as different conservatives are targeted — but the motive never changes. And that motive is vividly clear: silencing a free press and free speech by bullying advertisers and hosts as well.
Now is the time to fight back. To zero in on these advertisers and others and make it plain that this kind of bullying of conservatives — and in this case the bullying of a woman — has got to stop. And while you’re at it — let Fox News how you feel. The network gets hammered routinely for its conservative hosts — right now meaning Tucker Carlson, Hannity and Laura plus Fox and Friends and this is exactly the kind of moment to stand with them. Jack Abernethy, the co-president of Fox News, has said this per the New York Daily News:
“We cannot and will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts,” Jack Abernethy co-president of Fox News said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “We look forward to having Laura Ingraham back hosting her program next Monday when she returns from spring vacation with her children.”
Good for Mr. Abernethy. He gets it completely.
This time its Laura Ingraham — the next time it could be — will be — some other conservative. Maybe even you.
Thanks for your time.