Screenshot: Fox News/YouTube

Tucker Carlson’s sponsors are leaving him. Following a December 13th broadcast of his nightly show in which Carlson said immigrants make the country “dirtier and poorer,” at least 14 advertisers have paused or suspended their relationships with Tucker Carlson Tonight, according to The Hill. The companies ditching the show include Pacific Life Insurance, TD Ameritrade, and IHOP.

The campaign to push advertisers into a boycott began on Twitter, spearheaded by Media Matters for America’s Andrew Lawrence and progressive activist Jared Uhl. It went viral, spreading through retweets by Twitter progressives with large followings, prompting many companies to respond.

Today, in response to the boycott, Fox News released a statement defending Carlson and comparing the campaign to the actions of antifascist protestors who targeted Carlson’ home last month.

“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,” Fox said in a statement.

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“Attempts were made last month to bully and terrorize Tucker and his family at their home,” they wrote, referencing an incident in which protestors knocked on the cable host’s front door.

“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.”

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Fox is right about one thing—these activists do have a deeply political motive: stopping the spread of white nationalism on one of America’s most-watched TV networks.

However, the assertion that the network doesn’t “advocate boycotts” is pretty humorous, considering the extensive coverage it has given over the years to the idiotic plans the right often concocts to punish insufficiently conservative businesses like Starbucks and Nike by burning shoes or smashing CDs. For some reason I can’t remember Fox News condemning all boycotts in those cases.

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Carlson defended himself on his show last night, telling critics he wasn’t scared of the backlash.

“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. “It won’t work with this show. We’re not intimidated. We plan to try to say what’s true until the last day.”

Carlson also doubled down on his “dirtier” comment, attempting to support it with evidence.

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“Take a trip to our Southwestern Deserts, if you don’t believe it. Thanks to illegal immigration, huge swaths of the region are covered with garbage and waste that degrade the soil and kill wildlife,” he said. “The Arizona Department of Environment Quality estimates that each illegal border-crosser leaves six to eight pounds of trash during the journey into our country.”

Who knew you could make a racist argument for not littering?

Carlson went on to connect his plight to larger concerns about the authoritarian left’s impact on ~*~*free speech*~*~.

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“We talk a lot on this show about the threat to free speech. It turns out it’s very real,” Carlson warned.

The idea that boycotts or public pressure constitute a threat to free speech is an infuriatingly common conservative trope. That the freedom—for both individuals and companies—to choose what to consume is in fact a aspect of free speech (and the basis their dearly loved “free market”) seems to elude both Fox News and Carlson himself.

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Advertisers fleeing Carlson’s show is an unambiguously good thing—it shows that these companies still have some capacity for shame. But will it change anything about the deeply rotten network that airs Carlson?

Sure doesn’t look like it: according to The Hill, 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.”

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This, unlike Carlson’s whining, is a legitimate problem. Carlson is far from the only alt-light scumbag on the network that brought us Donald Trump. If these companies really wanted to demonstrate they don’t support racism, they would stop advertising on Fox entirely.