Sean Hannity (Twitter)

Sean Hannity (Twitter)

Controversy over Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore has resulted in at least five companies yanking their advertisements from “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel in the wake of Sean Hannity’s coverage of Moore.

CNBC says the companies include coffee-machine maker Keurig, Realtor.com, 23 and Me, Eloquii and Nature’s Bounty.

That has sparked a social-media firestorm, with people both praising and condemning the firms, along with the creation of boycotts against them.

Hannity interviewed Moore about allegations of sexual misconduct in the wake of a Washington Post report suggesting Moore was romantically or sexually involved with four teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. Moore has steadfastly denied the charges.

Roy Moore

Roy Moore

On Hannity’s radio program Friday, Moore said: “These allegations are completely false and misleading. But more than that it hurts me personally because you know, I’m a father. I have one daughter, I have five granddaughters, and I have a special concern for the protection of young ladies.”

The advertiser boycott was sparked by Hannity’s “defense” of Moore in a comment on his Thursday radio show that appeared to some to suggest Hannity was calling Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl “consensual.” However, on replay it became clear to everyone, including Hannity’s most public critics, that crosstalk between Hannity and a guest had led to the confusion and that Hannity was referring to the older girls with his “consensual” comment.

Hannity apologized Thursday night about the comment by tweeting, “I apologize when I misspoke and was not totally clear earlier today.”

Hannitytweet

Hannity followed up the tweet by clarifying on his Fox TV show that he was talking about the 17- and 18-year-old girls, not the 14-year-old.

Hannity also said that no one should rush to judgment.

“Every single person in this country deserves the presumption of innocence,” he said. “With the allegations against Judge Moore, none of us know the truth of what happened 38 years ago. The only people that would know are the people involved in this incident.”

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In fact, Hannity said Moore should drop out of the race if the allegations are true.

“This latest boycott effort by the Soros-funded Media Matters, portraying Hannity as siding with Roy Moore, is incredibly ironic,” commented WND Managing Editor David Kupelian. “In reality, Hannity has provided the best coverage of the Roy Moore controversy of anybody in the media. How so? First he urges everyone to be fair and not to rush to judgment, citing other high-profile cases where the media immediately piled on and were later proven dead wrong. But then, he conducts a fair but devastatingly revealing interview with Moore, exposing troubling weaknesses and even contradictions in the candidate’s narrative. Nobody else in the media has done this. Indeed, right after the interview aired on Fox, Geraldo Rivera, calling it ‘a smart, tough, deeply revealing interview’ said: ‘With that telling interview, asking every question that everybody listening had, you ended his candidacy.'”

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The companies announced their withdrawal from Hannity’s TV program on Twitter, although none of them specifically cited the accusations against the judge for their decision. But they did indicate they would no longer advertise after Twitter users called for them to distance themselves from the show.

Angelo Carusone, who initiated the above tweet, is president of Media Matters for America.

“We’ve received inquiries RE: advertising on Hannity,” 23 and Me said on Twitter on Friday. “We are not running TV advertising on Hannity. We continue to closely evaluate where we advertise.”

“We can confirm that we do not have advertisements running on this program,” Nature’s Bounty also tweeted.

“Hannity” is no stranger to controversy, as the leftist group Media Matters pushed in August for companies to end their financial support of the program. A month later, Cadillac reportedly stopped its commercials from airing on the show, following Hannity’s coverage of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

E-trade is another firm that yanked its ads at the time, CNBC noted.

This weekend’s move by advertisers to distance themselves from Hannity has prompted plenty of backlash, including a #BoycottKeurig movement.

Others, however, heaped praise on Keurig and the other firms for avoiding the “Hannity” program in the wake of Friday’s interview.

On Monday, Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort issued an apology to employees for the negative attention brought to the company, the Washington Times reported.

“This gave the appearance of ‘taking sides’ in an emotionally charged debate that escalated on Twitter and beyond over the weekend, which was not our intent,” the CEO wrote in a memo. “Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation that requires an overhaul of our issues response and external communications policies and the introduction of safeguards to ensure this never happen again. Our company and brand reputations are too valuable to be put at risk in this manner.

“I apologize for any negativity that you have experienced as a result of this situation and assure you that we will learn and improve going forward,” he added.

Sunday afternoon, Moore sent out a fund-raising letter to supporters, noting he has been closely “scrutinized in the press and the liberal media for forty years.”

“I’ve been investigated by politically-motivated attorney generals and judicial commissions on several occasion,” Moore said. “I’ve run five campaigns against opponents who did opposition research against me – including statewide elections, county elections and two major battles over religious liberty and the Ten Commandments … The truth is, I’ve probably been investigated as much as anyone in the entire country.”

He assured his supporters that he was not guilty of the accusations against him.

“Of course, these attacks are completely false and untrue – a well-coordinated hit piece by the Democrats, and the GOP establishment, against me and my campaign.”

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