As Fox News host Sean Hannity partially backed away from his recent promotion of a conspiracy theory about the murder of a DNC staffer, several advertisers confirmed Wednesday that they have pulled out of Hannity’s show.
“The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn’t mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content. 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,” Cars.com said in a statement to Buzzfeed News on Wednesday.
Crowne Plaza Hotels told Buzzfeed News that they terminated their relationship with a third party company after learning that their advertisements were running on Fox News, including on Hannity’s show.
“We do not advertise on Fox News, Hannity or any political commentary show. We have a specific do not advertise list for this type of programming. Unfortunately, our expectation to adhere to this list was not met by a third-party agency. Since we learned of the airings, we addressed the issue immediately and terminated our relationship with the agency. We have no plans to advertise on Fox News for the foreseeable future,” the company said in a statement.
The flurry of advertisers announcing that they would not air ads on Hannity’s show came after the Fox News host said he would stop talking for the time being about the baseless conspiracy theory surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. However, Hannity indicated that he would keep digging on the conspiracy theory and that he could resurface it at a later time.
Hannity told the Huffington Post on Wednesday that he did not announce his decision to stop talking about Rich due to pressure from his bosses at Fox News.
“I did it out of my own heart,” Hannity said. “Nobody tells me what to say on my show. They never have and frankly they never will. I’m not that type of person you can say, ‘Go on air and say this.’ That’s been the beauty of Fox News all these years. They leave me alone.”
However, CNN reported that Hannity did face pressure from the network, citing unnamed sources at Fox. Suzanne Scott, the president of programming at Fox News, met with Hannity on Tuesday to encourage him to drop the conspiracy theory, per CNN.
As advertisers pulled out on Wednesday, Fox News’ Kimberly Guilfoyle announced during “The Five” that Hannity would be on vacation on Thursday and Friday and that she would be filling in for him. Hannity also addressed his vacation in a bizarre tweet.
Uh oh My ANNUAL Memorial Day long weekend starts NOW. Destroy Trump/Conservative media breathless coverage starts! Did Hannity do last show?
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 25, 2017
In a Thursday morning statement, Fox News pushed back against theories that Hannity’s time off from his show was related to his discussion of Seth Rich.
“Like the rest of the country, Sean Hannity is taking a vacation for Memorial Day weekend and will be back on Tuesday. Those who suggest otherwise are going to look foolish,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement.
This post has been updated.