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Fox News host Tucker Carlson faces advertiser backlash over immigration comments

Tucker Carlson speaks during the Politicon conference in Los Angeles, October 21, 2018
Rich Polk | Getty Images
Key Points
  • Some companies are pulling their ads from Fox News' primetime show "Tucker Carlson Tonight."
  • Carlson said he disagreed with "a moral obligation" to let poor people into the U.S., "even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided."

Some companies are pulling their advertising from Fox News' primetime show "Tucker Carlson Tonight," after the host said he disagreed with "a moral obligation" to let poor people into the U.S., "even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided."

Carlson made the comments on Thursday 13 and reinforced them on his show Monday night.

Online design marketplace Minted tweeted Monday night that it is "permanently discontinuing" advertising on the program. "We do not agree with Mr. Carlson's comments and his opinions are not consistent with the values we hold at Minted. Like other advertisers, our media purchases are done broadly across a number of networks. That being said, we are permanently discontinuing advertising on this particular program," the company said.

Personal finance website NerdWallet said in a statement emailed to CNBC that it had "pulled its advertising and will be re-evaluating any ongoing advertising on this program," after Carlson's comments last week. 

A NerdWallet spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNBC: "Whenever we receive feedback about advertising on specific programs, we evaluate it on a case-by-case basis. If our review determines that a certain show's content doesn't align with our company values, we take commensurate and appropriate action. That's what we've done in this instance."

Financial services company Pacific Life said in a tweet on Friday that it will "re-evaluate our relationship with his program" and would not be advertising on Carlson's show in the coming weeks. "As a company, we strongly disagree with Mr. Carlson's statements. Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in," it said.

Speaking about the skills needed in the U.S., for a segment titled "What's the economic case for mass immigration?" Carlson said Thursday: "It's obvious that we need more scientists and skilled engineers, but that's not what we're getting."

"Instead we're getting waves of people with high school educations or less. Nice people, no one doubts that, but as an economic matter this is insane. It's indefensible, so nobody even tries to defend it. Instead our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this. We have a moral obligation to admit the world's poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided."

Carlson reinforced his comments during his show on Monday night, and posted video clips on Twitter. "Enforcers scream 'racist' on Twitter, until everybody gets intimidated and changes the subject to the Russia investigation or some other distraction. It's a tactic, a well-worn one, nobody thinks it's real. And it won't work with this show. We're not intimidated and we plan to try to say what's true until the last day," he said in one clip.

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A spokesperson for SmileDirectClub, which makes teeth-straightening products, said in an emailed statement Tuesday: "We are actively working with our media buyers to confirm that SmileDirectClub is no longer running our ads around any political opinion shows." The company did not say whether the decision was due to Carlson's comments.

Job site Indeed.com told CNBC it had not advertised on the show in over a month. "Indeed's mission is to help people get jobs. As a company, we are nonpartisan — our site is for everyone, regardless of background or beliefs. Indeed has not advertised on the 'Tucker Carlson Tonight' program in over a month, and has no plans to do so in the future," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Other advertisers, such as Bayer, Sanofi and Mitsubishi are thought to be continuing their advertising during the show, according to a report on The Hollywood Reporter's website Monday. A Sanofi spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNBC on Tuesday: "Sanofi advertising is not an endorsement of a show, on-air personalities, and/or the content of a show." Bayer and Mitsubishi had not responded to CNBC at the time of publication.

A Fox News channel spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNBC: "It is a shame that left wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed 'media watchdogs' weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions."

Tucker Carlson speaks during the Politicon conference in Los Angeles, October 21, 2018
Rich Polk | Getty Images