One of Fox News’ staunchest sponsors, MyPillow, has asked for its all of commercials to taken off the news channel after Fox balked at the claims that the company hoped to make in a potential new ad campaign.
In a statement late Thursday, Fox News confirmed a report by The Wall Street Journal that Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, had asked for his company’s ads to be taken out of their schedule after the network decided not to run a proposed ad promoting baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s unfortunate Mr. Lindell has chosen to pause his commercial time on Fox News given the level of success he’s experienced in building his brand through advertising on the number one cable news network,” Fox News said in a statement.
Lindell has been a regular presence on Fox News Channel for years, telling viewers in commercials that his specially designed pillows foster better sleep. His commercials have given him a fame of sort — he has stayed in rotation on Fox News shows like “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that have become too hot for some national sponsors, and he even made his way into the orbit of the former President Donald Trump.
Lindell told the Journal that he wanted Fox News to run a commercial calling attention to a new “cyber symposium” that he intended to stream in August which he asserted will prove that Trump did win the 2020 election. Those claims have been rejected by dozens of courts in the months since Election Day last November.
TV networks typically have a set of standards and practices to which commercials must adhere, and it is not unusual for a network to turn down an advertisement that makes claims about a rival product without presenting evidence, or spots that may be deemed offensive by viewers. NBCUniversal in 2018 said it would pull a commercial from the Trump campaign that ran during “Sunday Night Football” after it drew massive backlash on social media. The spot played up the purported threat of foreign migrants entering the United States.
Fox News has come under scrutiny for airing claims about voting fraud during the election. Both Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, two voting technology companies have filed mammoth defmation lawsuits against the Fox Corp. unit, alleging it made false claims about their influence on the 2020 presidential election. Smartmatic is seeking $2.7 billion in its suit, while Dominion Voting Systems is seeking $1.6 billon. Fox News has sought to have both matters dismissed.
Damages sought in the cases are significant, and other news companies have been hurt by defamation suits. Disney’s ABC News in 2017 grappled with a $1.9 billion lawsuit from a South Dakota meat producer that alleged the news operation defamed Beef Products Inc. about the safety of low-cost processed beef trimmings referred to in a report as “pink slime.” Disney subsequently disclosed costs of $177 million related to the settlement of the case.