In less than three minutes, Tucker Carlson suggested immigrants make the United States “dirtier,” contradicted himself on their values and gushed over Mexicans frustrated with Central American caravans. The opening tear cost his Fox News show an advertiser, at least for now.
Few advocates, if any, argue the economic merit of immigration, Carlson said in his opening monologue Thursday evening. The nation needs skilled workers, but Carlson said that is not who arrives here. (Fact check: Not true.)
“Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this,” he said, while name-checking Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis). “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. Immigration is a form of atonement.”
Carlson added: “They’re nice people; nobody doubts that,” before changing his tone minutes later in his own monologue, over reports some caravan leaders demanded $50,000 in reparations for U.S. involvement in Central America, calling them “cynical shakedown artists.”
Then, the segment ended for an advertisement for Pacific Life.
The insurance company said in a statement Friday that it “strongly” disagreed with Carlson’s immigration comments following the outcry.
“Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in,” the company said. “We will not be advertising on Mr. Carlson’s show in the coming weeks as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.” The Fortune 500 company is based in Newport Beach, Calif.
Pacific Life’s pullout has come amid the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, a Guatemalan girl who died in custody of U.S. border agents from dehydration and exhaustion.
The issue — another Fox News host who lost advertiser support over controversial comments — drew a sharp rebuke from the network.
“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,” network spokeswoman Carly Shanahan said in a statement. “We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.”
Pacific Life has run commercials on Carlson’s show for just over a year, spokesman Steve Chesterman told The Washington Post on Saturday. The company is not running any ads for other Fox News programs at this time, he said.
Carlson has been a frequent critic of immigration. In March, he voiced concern that America’s demographics were changing too quickly without “debate.”
In his Thursday monologue, Carlson rolled footage of Mexican protesters critical of the caravan, suggesting some were criminals mounting an “invasion,” in an echo of President Trump’s rhetoric.
“That sounds like a Trump rally. When did Mexican citizens start talking like this? It’s confusing, and of course, deeply hilarious and satisfying to watch,” Carlson said.
The network has defended itself against similar advertiser pullouts driven by public scrutiny.
In March, half a dozen companies yanked commercials during Laura Ingraham’s program after she taunted former Parkland student David Hogg. She later apologized, but Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy decried the move as “agenda-driven intimidation efforts” and censorship.