Fox News on Tuesday issued a strong defense of host Tucker Carlson after several companies pulled advertisements from his program over controversial comments he made about immigration.
"We cannot and will not allow voices like Tucker Carlson to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts from the likes of Moveon.org, Media Matters and Sleeping Giants," the news network said in a statement.
"Attempts were made last month to bully and terrorize Tucker and his family at their home," it continued, referencing a group of left-wing antifa activists that converged on Carlson's Washington, D.C., home in November.
"He is now once again being threatened via Twitter by far left activist groups with deeply political motives. While we do not advocate boycotts, these same groups never target other broadcasters and operate under a grossly hypocritical double standard given their intolerance to all opposing points of view.”
Carlson drew attention last week when he said in an opening monologue on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that immigration makes the U.S. "poorer and dirtier and more divided."
The statement led to backlash, with some companies announcing they would stop running ads on his nightly program in response.
At least 14 companies had pulled advertisements from Carlson's show as of Tuesday evening, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The corporations include Pacific Life Insurance, TD Ameritrade and IHOP, among others.
Fox News confirmed that all the advertisers are moving their ads to other shows on the network and that no revenue would be lost as a result.
Other companies, including Farmers Insurance, Mitsubishi and Bayer, have indicated that they would monitor the situation but would continue running ads on Carlson's program.
Pacific Life Insurance was the first company to announce that it would pull advertisements from the show last Friday. A Fox News spokesperson criticized the decision at the time, saying that "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."
"We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions," the spokesperson said.
Media Matters for America President Angelo Carusone dismissed Fox News’s accusation that the organization was engaging in an intimidation effort
“Don’t let Fox News distract, deflect, or deceive,” Carusone said in a Tuesday evening statement. “This isn’t about Media Matters, Sleeping Giants, or activists. No one forced Tucker Carlson’s odious bigotry and fixation on white genocide conspiracy theories. And that’s what advertisers are rejecting. Rightfully so, too.”
Carlson defended his comments on immigration on Monday night, asserting on his show that he would not be intimidated.
"You’ve seen it a million times, it happens all the time: The enforcers scream 'racist' on Twitter until everybody gets intimidated and changes the subject to the Russia investigation or some other distraction," Carlson said at one point.
"It won’t work with this show," Carlson said. "We’re not intimidated. We plan to try to say what’s true until the last day."
He later argued that "unregulated mass immigration has badly hurt this country’s natural landscape."
—Updated Wednesday at 12:01 p.m.