Less than three weeks ago, California billionaire and political activist Tom Steyer started a campaign to impeach President Trump, running ads in all 50 states.
The video ran on a wide range of networks, including Fox News. But by Saturday, Steyer sent an email to those who had signed the petition, saying that Fox pulled the ad off the air “without warning.”
Steyer called the move a violation of his First Amendment rights, accusing Fox of seeking to appease Trump, its “#1 fan.” Fox didn’t announce its decision until Monday, at which time Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy justified the move by saying that “due to the strong negative reaction to their ad by our viewers, we could not in good conscience take their money.”
The ad first ran on Fox News on October 27, triggering a response from Trump, who called Steyer “wacky and totally unhinged” in a tweet. On Friday, Steyer told MSNBC that Fox News was refusing to air the second week of his ad buy, and reportedly did not return the money for it.
Steyer and his team have accused Fox News of bowing to Trump’s pressure and Steyer’s lawyer, Brad Deutsch, sent a letter to Abernethy, accusing the network of a breach of contract. In the letter, Deutsch remarked that it is “no coincidence” that the ad was pulled following Trump’s tweet.
He continued that,
“[T]he only plausible explanation seems to be that Fox News capitulated to political pressure from the Trump administration itself. President Trump has threatened retaliation against broadcasters who provide him with negative coverage and Fox News appears to have answered these threats with servility.”
Deutsch further accused Abernethy of failing both his profession and his viewers, calling it “ironic” that an American company “would so willingly yield to American politicians in stifling the speech of American citizens.” He concluded the letter by calling on Abernethy to honor his contract with Steyer and air the remaining seven spots.
While it remains to be seen whether Fox News will ultimately bow to the pressure of Trump or Steyer, the network’s decision may just help Steyer gain even more attention for his campaign.