Tucker Carlson's off-the-rail insults put pharma advertisers in hot seat

Pharma advertisers, among others, are facing criticism for airing on Fox TV's Tucker Carlson show after derogartory comments surfaced. (Gage Skidmore)(Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Fox TV host Tucker Carlson is courting controversy again, and his show's advertisers—including some top drugmakers—are back in the hot seat.

The public outcry hit Sunday after Media Matters published tapes of Carlson's appearances on a radio show. In them, Carlson said women were “like dogs,” defended a child-bride marriage and called Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis, a TV host and radio personality, the c-word—among other things.

On Monday afternoon, as the pushback heated up, AstraZeneca tweeted that it no longer advertises on “Tucker Carlson Tonight." The drugmaker confirmed to FiercePharma that it was not running ads during Carlson's show now, and said it "will not be advertising on this program in the future.”

The drugmaker actually stopped advertising on the program earlier this year, the spokeswoman said. Twitter users responded to AstraZeneca’s Monday afternoon tweet confirming its Carlson ad dropout with mostly positive replies of  “thank you” and “good move.”

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Later Monday night, Bayer faced consumer blowback after the nightly airing of Carlson's show, when viewers noticed that the German drugmaker was among the few major national advertisers still running commercials.

And meanwhile, Media Matters released another batch of recordings in which Carlson said Iraq was a crappy place filled with "semiliterate, primitive monkeys" and credited white men with creating civilization.

Actor George Takai, who played Mr. Sulu on the old "Star Trek" and is a social media influencer with 2.8 million Twitter followers, wrote, “I have a headache from reading Tucker Carlson’s misogyny, racism, and homophobia. I’d take an aspirin but @Bayer is still advertising on his show.”

Bayer had not responded to requests for comment for this story by deadline.

The Carlson advertiser controversy began Sunday after Media Matters released snippets from years of Carlson's call-in chats to a Florida radio program called “Bubba the Love Sponge Show.”

The first batch of comments, made from 2006 to 2011, mainly featured misogynstic insults. For instance, Carlson defended Warren Jeffs, the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who is currently serving a life sentence for child sexual assault for facilitating marriages between underage women and older men.

In one snippet, he said women were “extremely primitive;” in another, he said women need to “just be quiet and kind of do what you’re told.” And in more degrading commentary, he labeled Alexis Stewart with the c-word.

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Carlson refused to apologize Monday. He said Media Matters had dug up something “naughty” he had said “more than a decade ago.”

AstraZeneca seems to be leading the way this time in dropping ads from Carlson’s show. A handful of advertisers had already dropped off his show in December, including IHOP, NerdWallet and Pacific Life Insurance after the opinion show host made anti-immigrant comments.