Not that advertising revenue should be the sole barometer of success for a television show, but it is telling that major brands do not want to be associated with Fox News presenters Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
A report in Vanity Fair published this week indicates that the far right, pro-Trump propaganda Hannity and Ingraham spout on a nightly basis is becoming increasingly toxic to advertisers:
The crown jewel of New Fox—Fox News—is confronting some business headwinds. While Fox News dominated the ratings in May—a fact Trump bragged about on Saturday—the network is having new difficulties monetizing its most pro-Trump programming. According to three sources briefed on the numbers, advertising revenues for Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are down in recent months. “The pro-Trump thing isn’t working. We can’t monetize DACA and the wall and that right-wing shit,” one staffer said. “Despite all the hype on Hannity, they can’t sell it,” another insider told me. (Tucker Carlson’s show is faring better, sources said).
It is worrying that Carlson's more subtle brand of right wing racism and xenophobia is more advertising friendly, but it is at least a start that corporate America is unwilling to have their brands associated with the outright idiotic. Hannity and Ingraham have long done away with any sense of decorum, preferring to appeal to their audiences of right wing bigots without filter. Ingraham's politics are so vile, it must be remembered, that she thought nothing of bullying a child survivor of a mass school shooting. Advertisers fled from the foul mouthed anchor's show, and it appears they are not coming back.
Hannity has been the target of advertiser boycotts in the past due to his promotion of conspiracy theories like the Seth Rich murder, and his defense of pedophile Roy Moore. With nightly rants about the "Deep State" and maniacal Hillary Clinton conspiracies, Hannity isn't really regarded as a serious commentator by, well, anyone. Since Trump announced his bid for the presidency, Hannity has spent every waking hour licking his boots and contorting himself into truly impossible intellectual knots to defend the indefensible, and this isn't helping Fox in the long run. As Hannity becomes more like Alex Jones by the day, his advertisers will begin to treat him the same way.
The news network can only tolerate a certain amount of crazy in order to keep advertisers happy. They'll happily promote racism, xenophobia and misogyny if it's done the right way, but once it gets out of hand, it becomes a serious business liability. Hosts like Tucker Carlson appear to understand this, while Hannity evidently does not -- and this could be fatal for the long time host since Rupert Murdoch handed over the reigns at Fox News to his eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch.
While Lachlan is reportedly conservative like his father, he wants to shake things up at the network and create a more modern business. Lachlan and his brother James are business savvy operators and have already presided over sweeping changes within the organization (James was mostly responsible for ousting Bill O'Reilly, for example). Anyone with a modicum of business sense understands that Hannity and Ingraham are serious liabilities, and as popular as they are with Fox's core audience of aging white people, the younger Murdoch will want to set a strategy for the future -- and that means appealing to younger generations who are decidedly less racist and xenophobic.
As loyal as Fox News is to its flagship presenters, it is more loyal to money and advertisers. And in the long run, Fox may calculate that Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham's craziness is just not worth it.