A month after Fox News fired its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, following pressure from advertisers and advocacy groups surrounding allegations of sexual harassment, another of the network's top personalities, Sean Hannity, is facing a new advertising boycott.
And he is not backing down -- although Fox News is publicly distancing itself from the conspiratorial rant that has put him in the crosshairs of a campaign to oust him from the network. “Not giving up at all,” @seanhannity tweeted this morning, adding: “I’m working harder than ever to get the truth the family wants and deserves. Stay tuned.”
The family Hannity referred to presumably is Seth Rich’s, a former Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in 2016. Rich has become the subject of a right-wing conspiracy theory being promoted by Hannity and others, even though Rich’s family has been pleading to tamp it down.
On Tuesday, Fox News retracted a version of the story published on its Web site, stating: "On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.”
As tepid as the retraction might seem, it comes amid a massive restructuring of Fox News in the wake of the ousting of its founder, the late Roger Ailes, O’Reilly and other senior managers from its glory days of right-wing TV news sensationalism.
The retraction has not deterred Hannity from continuing to promote and allude to new big scoops looming about Rich's murder. Or from tweeting about his tenacity to his base of followers, although Rich's family continues to plead with him to stop.
The family publicly thanked Fox News for its retraction.
Meanwhile, Media Matters has seized on the moment to shed new light and pressure on brands that sponsor and advertise on Fox News’ “The Sean Hannity Show.”
“Just retracting the one online story hardly undoes the damage Fox News -- and specifically Sean Hannity -- has done by pushing baseless conspiracy theories about Rich's death,” Media Matters wrote in a newsletter published Tuesday, continuing: “For the past week, Hannity and his colleagues have repeatedly pushed the evidence-free conspiracy theory that former Democratic staffer Seth Rich was murdered for providing WikiLeaks with emails from the Democratic National Committee.”It also published the following list of advertisers sponsoring his show on Fox News, which include many big blue-chip brands:
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Publishers Clearing House
American Petroleum Institute
Bass Pro Shops
Bausch + Lomb
Donald J. Trump for President
DR Power Equipment
Eli Lilly and Company
JoC. A. Bank Clothiers
Navy Federal Credit Union
Phazyme Gas and Acid
Quten IP Holdings, LLC
Super Beta Prostate
United Milage Plus Explorer Card
Viking River Cruises
"This advertiser list covers the period between May 1 and May 23. This list will be updated regularly," Media Matters said.