A conservative commentator at a Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned television station in St. Louis has resigned after a statement he made threatening to sexually assault David Hogg drew harsh criticism and sparked the beginnings of an advertiser boycott.
Jamie Allman, who hosts a nightly news show on KDNL, a Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, as well as a morning FM radio show, wrote on Twitter that he was "hanging out getting ready," to sexually assault David Hogg with "a hot poker."
"Busy working. Preparing," read the March 26 tweet, which is too vulgar to print here in full, but was published as a screenshot by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as the remark begun to draw more scrutiny in recent days.
Advertisers, including Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, St. Louis health center Palm Health, and local real estate office the Gellman Team all announced they would stop advertising on Allman's shows, spurred on by activists who took to social media to highlight the commentator's remarks, as well as Democratic state lawmaker Stacey Newman and others.
"We have accepted Mr. Allman's resignation, and his show has been cancelled," said Ronn Torossian, the CEO of the PR firm 5W, who is acting as a Sinclair spokesman, said in response to questions sent to the media company by The Washington Post.
The anger generated by Allman's remarks is reminiscent of the outrage after another conservative commentator, Fox News host Laura Ingraham, mocked Hogg after it was announced he did not get into some top colleges, only to face a fierce backlash from activists and advertisers. Advertising space for her show in the two days after the tweet fell by more than half and at least 18 advertisers have pulled out of her prime-time show.
And it represented the potential of yet another public relations crisis for Sinclair, which has come under harsh criticism in recent weeks after a video of dozens of its anchors reading the same mandated and seemingly Trump-esque script about "fake stories," went viral.
Sinclair, the Maryland-based media company, is the largest owner of local television stations in the country with 173 stations in 81 broadcast markets. It has come under intense scrutiny as it awaits federal approval for a takeover of another media company, for injecting what many feel is a conservative bias into local news coverage. Its proposed buyout of Tribune Media, for which it needs approval from the FCC and the Department of Justice, would bring its coverage into the homes of as many as 70 percent of American households.
Compared to Ingraham's remark, Allman's statement, with the overt threat of sexualized violence, was an attack of a different magnitude, though he is not a national media figure like Ingraham.
Jeff Allen, the program director for FM NewsTalk 97.1, did not respond to an immediate request for comment. Entercom Communications Corp., which owns 97.1, did not respond to a request for comment sent to executive vice president and CFO Richard Schmaeling.
Allman's television show appears to fit neatly into the conservative-inflected programming for which Sinclair has become known. He often trumpets pro-Trump and conservative lines, assailing media coverage of the president, lambasting liberals and Democrats for seeming "to be all about one thing, shutting down people they disagree with." He has defended Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican who is awaiting trial on felony invasion of privacy charge after prosecutors said he tried to blackmail a former paramour with an illicit photo.
Allman has gone after David Hogg, recently calling him a "big complainer," after Hogg criticized his high school's new requirement that students carry clear backpacks.
"He says you shouldn't have the right to have a certain kind of gun but I should have the right to have any kind of backpack I want," Allman said incredulously on one segment. "Trying to nail this down. Very confusing. But these are confusing times."