TripAdvisor, Wayfair pull advertising from Laura Ingraham’s show after she mocks Parkland survivor
A Twitter dispute between Fox News host Laura Ingraham and a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., shooting spiraled into a public relations crisis for large Massachusetts companies Thursday, as teen activist David Hogg led a torrent of online protests against advertisers on the Fox host’s show.
TripAdvisor and Wayfair both said they would no longer advertise during the “Ingraham Angle,” after she teased Hogg, a high school senior, about being rejected by several colleges to which he had applied.
“The decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values,” Wayfair said in a statement after being called out on social media for advertising on Ingraham’s show. “We do not plan to continue advertising on this particular program.”
Needham-based TripAdvisor said in a statement that the company does not “condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster.”
“In our view, these statements, focused on a high school student, cross the line of decency. As such, we have made a decision to stop advertising on that program,” the company said.
TripAdvisor and Wayfair both declined to comment further. Liberty Mutual, a third local company that Hogg and others said is a major Ingraham advertiser, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Hogg is a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed on Valentine’s Day, and he has since emerged as one of the most forceful voices among young activists calling for new gun restrictions.
Ingraham later backtracked, apologizing “for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.”
But the firestorm by then had become the latest example of the persuasive power that social media activists have brought to bear against conservative causes, particularly since the election of Donald Trump. In February, for example, a boycott movement prompted several companies — including Boston home security startup SimpliSafe — to end promotional partnerships with the National Rifle Association.
“Advertisers, who are ultra sensitive to risk and controversy in a situation that’s as sensitive as this one, are going to be extra skittish in terms of trying to avoid any kind of blowback from what’s essentially a political and public relations battle,” said John Carroll, an assistant professor at Boston University who focuses on journalism and advertising.
He said companies under normal circumstances will try to reach consumers across the ideological spectrum, using TripAdvisor as an example.
“Conservatives travel, too. TripAdvisor is perfectly happy to appeal to as wide an audience as they possibly can,” Carroll said. “But there’s a certain level of heat and pushback from the public that they are not willing to undergo.”
The backlash came after Ingraham tweeted a link Wednesday to a story about Hogg being rejected at four colleges. Ingraham also said it was ‘‘totally predictable given acceptance rates’’ that Hogg was ‘‘dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA.’’
Hogg, in turn, called for a boycott of major companies that advertise on her show, tweeting out a list of 12, including TripAdvisor, Wayfair, and Liberty Mutual.
Outside of Massachusetts, other companies on Hogg’s list, including Expedia, Nestle, and the Rachael Ray-linked pet food brand Nutrish, said they would remove their ads from Ingraham’s show, according to news accounts.
We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program.— Nutrish (@Nutrish) March 29, 2018
Hogg tweeted a “thank you” to TripAdvisor on Thursday afternoon — a tweet that earned more than 14,000 likes in about an hour.
Read the full statements from Wayfair and TripAdvisor.
As a company, we support open dialogue and debate on issues. However, the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values. We do not plan to continue advertising on this particular program.
TripAdvisor believes strongly in the values of our company, especially the one that says, “We are better together.”
We also believe Americans can disagree while still being agreeable, and that the free exchange of ideas within a community, in a peaceful manner, is the cornerstone of our democracy.
We do not, however, condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster. In our view, these statements focused on a high school student, cross the line of decency. As such, we have made a decision to stop advertising on that program.
It is important to note that TripAdvisor has a global and diverse customer base, and is an active advertiser on a number of networks including news. Our media buys target a variety of time slots and audiences. That said, we will continue to monitor where our advertisements appear in the open market to ensure they fit our guidelines.
Christina Prignano of the Globe staff contributed to this report.