Sean Hannity, popular Fox News host, began losing advertisers on Wednesday following his controversial coverage of a conspiracy theory involving Seth Rich, the slain DNC staffer. In his response, Hannity blamed left-wing media activists for targeting his sponsors over the contentious story.
Buzzfeed News had a reporter talk to Hannity’s sponsors; apparently, Cars.com was the first advertiser to drop Hannity’s show.
“Cars.com’s media buy strategies are designed to reach as many consumers as possible across a wide spectrum of media channels,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
“The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn’t mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content,” the statement continued. “We don’t have the ability to influence content at the time we make our advertising purchase. In this case, we’ve been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity.”
Peleton, a privae cycling studio company, also dropped its ads from Hannity’s show on Wednesday. The company tweeted its decision in response to a tweet regarding advertisements on the show. “We directed our media agency to stop advertising on Sean Hannity’s show. This will take a few days to take effect,” the tweet read.
The controversy surrounding Seth rich began when he was shot dead in an incident police officials claim to be a botched robbery attempt. However, conspiracy theorists were quick to latch onto the story, claiming that because nothing had been taken from the DNC staffer, he could have been killed in connection to the leaked DNC emails that were sent to Wikileaks. The leaked emails irreparably damaged Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which she eventually lost. Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange fired up the conspiracy theories even further by subtly suggesting that it was Rich who was their source.
Following an investigator’s sensationalist claims regarding the conspiracy theory, Hannity was quick to take up the case. However, Fox News retracted its story immediately after Seth Rich;s parents began accusing the reporters and the investigator of distorting the facts of the case.
Hannity then tweeted his intentions of pursuing the story further. “Congress, investigate Seth Rich Murder! @JulianAssange made comments u need to listen to! If Seth was wiki source, no Trump/Russia collusion[.]”
However, Tuesday evening on his show, he gave up his pursuit out of respect of Seth Rich’s family. He said he would stop talking about the case to prove the real reason behind Rich’s murder.
Since then, Hannity has been criticizing left-wing media group Media Matters for America for encouraging advertisers to drop his show because of the controversy.