Boycott Threats, Free Speech And Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham should have been judicious enough not to post a tweet that denigrated a teen survivor of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

This young person, David Hogg, had just gone through a very traumatic experience, not unlike surviving combat. What good would it do to point out on Twitter that the kid was not accepted to some colleges he applied to?

For some reason, perhaps with our Twitter-compulsive president as a dubious role model, even people as intelligent as Laura Ingraham are posting tweets they should have thought twice about and then not posted them.

In the wake of this clumsy tweet, advertisers have fled Ingraham's Fox News Channel show “The Ingraham Angle.”

Their desertion of her show seems to have been spurred by Hogg himself, who made a list of companies with commercials on the show and took to social media to urge people to boycott them if they continued to advertise on Ingraham's show.



Not to excuse Ingraham's tweet blunder, but at the same time, it is worth pointing out that we are living in a vigilante culture in which self-appointed watchdogs have taken it upon themselves to pass judgement on everyone else’s behaviors and utterances.

It is an era of outrage that has produced headlines you see almost every day on news site home pages that go something like this: “Outrage Over [so-and-so's] Comment [or tweet] About [fill in blank with any number of topics that are sure to raise hackles].”

The outrage culture does have the effect of quashing free speech. It can make many people feel they are not free to express themselves because doing so today has become the equivalent of wandering into a minefield.

As advertisers deserted her show, Ingraham issued some sort of an apology for the Hogg tweet. This is also what the outrage culture does: It forces people like Ingraham to express remorse for things they said (or tweeted) even if they probably do not sincerely feel any remorse.

The honest, “free speech” response to people who would criticize a tweet or something a TV personality says on his or her show would be to say something like: “Well, I cannot express myself honestly and sincerely every day on my TV or radio show if the aim is to please everyone. That is impossible. At the same time, a complainer has the same right to express him- or herself as I do in expressing myself on my show.”

By the same “freedom” argument, advertisers are “free” to take their business elsewhere anytime they feel like it (contract-permitting, etc.).

But if I may venture an opinion here at the risk of exposing my ignorance (not for the first time, by any means), I fail to see the connection between an advertiser such as, say, Rachael Ray's Nutrish pet foods (one of the “Ingraham Angle” advertisers that have left the show) and the opinions of Laura Ingraham.

My take on the subject of the threat of advertiser boycotts, and then the yanking of commercials and sponsorships by the threatened advertiser, has been consistent through the years: I do not like advertiser boycotts, although I recognize that in a free country, consumers are free to make buying decisions based on whatever criteria they choose to apply.

Take the Nutrish pet food products. If these are quality products that contribute to the health and well-being of one's pets, why would you then deprive them of these benefits because of what Laura Ingraham tweeted the other day?

To me, an advertiser's products have nothing to do with the show in which their commercials appear. The show takes a break and then a series of commercials are shown.

Does any viewer at home really connect Nutrish pet food or Liberty Mutual insurance products with the subject matter that was being discussed in the segment that just concluded on “The Ingraham Angle”? I don’t think so.

In addition, what makes large companies such as Expedia, or Honda, or Jos. A. Bank -- three advertisers that have reportedly left the Ingraham show -- believe that a boycott being called for by David Hogg would ever actually make a dent in their businesses? I don't think any such boycott would have ever taken hold.

Here is a message to the speech and behavior watchdogs: Why don't you try ignoring the ravings of the Laura Ingrahams of the world? They have the right to express themselves, even when they should not. Carping on their tweets and statements only draws more attention to them than they would have otherwise received.

The tweet about David Hogg is a case in point: If not for the dust-up that erupted over it, few people would have cared or even remembered it an hour later.

7 comments about "Boycott Threats, Free Speech And Laura Ingraham".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 5, 2018 at 1:03 p.m.

    The irony is that Hogg accused Ingraham of being a bully. His boycott response was far disproportionate to the insult. Hogg thus became the bigger bully, attempting to crush her for using "fair comment" (however clumsily). I agree that boycotts are stupid. Hogg could have likely elicited an apology without pressing the nuclear button. She will survive this. Other conservatives have survived worse advertiser boycotts.

  2. Bill Burnett from Good Citizen Media Group, April 5, 2018 at 1:08 p.m.

    Adam, The Laura Ingrahams, Ann Coulters, Sean Hannitys and even President 45's of the world have had their way with us for years and it is nothing but a good thing to strike back and show them how vulnerable they are.  If this one tweet were the only thing Ingraham ever said that was outrageous and cruel you might be right, better to just overlook it.  But she and all her cohort have made an entire empire out of outrageous, cruel and UNTRUE blasts through their megaphone and they deserve to be not just boycotted but run out of town. Additionally, the ads that appear in close proximity to prgrgamming do indeed speak to the quality and values of the content. That's why so many advertisers are wary of buying time on Youtube.  The next video up after the one you sponsor might be a horrifying racist and you don't want your product associated with that.

  3. Bill Burnett from Good Citizen Media Group, April 5, 2018 at 1:18 p.m.

    Douglas and Adam, these are the people you're going to bat for with your comments:
    Bill O'Reilly is another schoolyard bully with a big megaphone and he forced women he'd harassed to agree to lie UNDER OATH about his foul behavior.  I think David Hogg showed smarts and strength that few have been willing to tap in this lopsided culture war we are regrettably fighting.

  4. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc, April 5, 2018 at 1:19 p.m.

    Hogg a bully?  Sorry, but those of us that want some logical gun control have been bullied by the NRA and politicians in the pocket of the gun lobby for far too long.

     Ingraham has been a baton twirler for these people and should be able to take what she doles out on a regular basis.

     I'm glad that corporations are finally listening to the majority of us that want military style weapons off the streets and want completely universal background checks. At least someone is.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 5, 2018 at 6:35 p.m.

    We can all buy quality products and services outside of her and others as the monkeys of this Death and Destruction Administration. Money talks.

  6. Bill Burnett from Good Citizen Media Group replied, April 5, 2018 at 10:09 p.m.

    The irony is that Media Post only chooses to display the one pro-Ingraham pro-Adam Buckman story in its comments section.  Ingraham is a squealer (in the Orwellian Animal Farm sense) for the GOP and the 45 administration and Buckman is the little pig running along side her, and Media Post is the enabler. We have to fight back with everything we've got people. Don't you realize you're being taken over? 

  7. PJ Lehrer from NYU, April 6, 2018 at 10:51 a.m.

    You are missing the point.  If I buy products from companies advertising on Fox, then I am effectively funding the hate speech their shows are spewing.  I do not want to do that and won't.  Boycotts work.  More here...

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