Fox News host Sean Hannity began losing sponsors Wednesday over the controversy from his coverage of a conspiracy theory involving the death of a DNC staffer Seth Rich. Hannity blamed left-wing media activists who were targeting his advertisers over the sensationalistic story.
According to Buzzfeed News, who had a reporter contact each of Hannity's advertisers, Cars.com was the first sponsor to drop Hannity.
"Cars.com's media buy strategies are designed to reach as many consumers as possible across a wide spectrum of media channels," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement.
"The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn't mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content," the statement continued. "We don't have the ability to influence content at the time we make our advertising purchase. In this case, we've been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity."
The private cycling studio company Peleton also dropped their ads from the Hannity show Wednesday.
Their official Twitter account announced their decision when responding to a tweet decrying their advertisements on the show. "We directed our media agency to stop advertising on Sean Hannity's show. This will take a few days to take effect," the tweet read.
— Peloton (@RidePeloton) May 24, 2017
The Seth Rich controversy began when the DNC staffer was shot and killed in what authorities called a botched robbery. Conspiracy theorists latched onto the story, pointing out that nothing had been taken from the victim, and connected the murder to the DNC emails leaked to WikiLeaks that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange also encouraged the conspiracy theory by making less than subtle suggestions that Rich was their source.
Hannity took up the cause after an investigator made sensationalist claims supporting the conspiracy theory. But when the family of Seth Rich began accusing the investigator and reporters of misrepresenting the facts of the case, Fox News retracted their story.
Hannity vowed to continue pursuing the story, tweeting, "Congress, investigate Seth Rich Murder! @JulianAssange made comments u need to listen to! If Seth was wiki source, no Trump/Russia collusion[.]"
But on his show Tuesday evening, he relented, saying that out of respect for the wishes of the family, that he would cease talking about the case that he said would prove Rich was murdered over alleged leaks to the WikiLeaks, exonerating the Russians accused of hacking the DNC.
He has since excoriated the left-wing media activist group Media Matters for America for using the controversy to call for his sponsors to leave the show.