(CNN Money) — “My friends, something alarming is taking place.”
On Monday night, Laura Ingraham cast the ongoing ad boycott against her show as part of “the left’s plot to silence conservatives.”
The Fox News prime time host said the “bullying on the left” is “desperate” and “Stalinist,” but promised: “We will never relent and we will never give in. Never.”
At no point did Ingraham mention the proximate cause of the ad boycott (her tweet mocking shooting survivor David Hogg) or the fact that she apologized for posting it.
Instead, she depicted herself as a warrior in a fight for free speech rights.
The ad breaks during her 10 p.m. show, “The Ingraham Angle,” were noticeably shorter than usual, a sign that many advertisers may still be avoiding her.
The current controversy started when Ingraham mocked Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for getting rejected by several colleges.
Hogg, in turn, urged his followers on social media to contact Ingraham’s advertisers. The anti-Fox group Media Matters lent a hand by sharing advertiser info.
Ingraham apologized for the tweet, but at least a dozen prominent advertisers distanced themselves from her program. Some observers were struck by the potency of Hogg’s campaign.
On the second night of the ad boycott, Ingraham began a week-long vacation.
Monday was her first night back — much to the delight of her fans, some of whom have condemned the ad boycott.
Fox News has done pretty much the same thing. “We cannot and will not allow voices to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts,” the network said last week.
While the decline in ad revenue will likely pinch the network, at least in the short term, the network seems determined to take a stand, lest it appear to be caving in to boycotts.
Ingraham didn’t say much about the ad boycott specifically on Monday night. But during the hand-off to her show, she joked to Sean Hannity that, “I’m glad I don’t have a Google Alert on my own name, that’s all I can say.”
Her start-of-the-show essay about liberals trying to silence conservatives was straight from the Fox playbook.
“There is a contraction of free speech all around us, and few seem to even notice!” she said.
“Expressing views that just five or ten years ago were considered mainstream can now get you fired,” she said. “It can cause you to lose a promotion. Or you can be branded a ‘hater,’ or yes, you can get boycotted.”
She argued that the left engages in a “desperate desire to stop debate by branding your opponent unacceptable and driving him or her from the public square.”
She cited the recent hiring and firing of Kevin Williamson at The Atlantic as one example.
It’s a “perilous road that we’re on,” Ingraham said.
At the end of the hour, she returned to the subject.
“We” — meaning conservatives — are “winning the war of ideas on immigration, the economy, life, trade and, yes, political correctness,” Ingraham said, “which is why we’re seeing the left wing retaliatory hit squads popping up everywhere! Today in academia, in Hollywood, and in the media, the left will brook no dissent and they will militantly police the borders of their stale orthodoxy.”
With that, she announced a new recurring segment, “Defending The First,” where “we will expose the enemies of the First Amendment.”
The segment may have the added benefit of filling some of the air time that used to include commercials.
— Brian Stelter
(™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.)