Keurig’s chief executive is trying to get his company out of hot water after supporters of Sean Hannity said they were boycotting the Vermont company — with some even smashing their coffee makers.
A letter to employees from chief executive Bob Gamgort came after the company, which is owned by investment firm JAB Holding Co., said on Twitter that it pulled one of its ads from Hannity’s show on Fox News in reaction to his support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Keurig’s tweets were prompted by a complaint by Media Matters for America president Angelo Carusone, who said Hannity was defending Moore. Moore has been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in 1979 and pursuing relationships with girls who were between 16 and 18 years old.
Keurig has since faced backlash from Hannity and his fans, some of whom have tweeted videos of themselves destroying their coffee makers.
In the e-mail to employees obtained by The Washington Post, Keurig’s chief executive called the decision to stop advertising with Hannity “business as usual” but called the tweets describing the decision to Twitter users “highly unusual.”
The tweets “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,” Bob Gamgort wrote in the e-mail, according to the Post.
Gamgort called the situation “unacceptable” and said it would require “an overhaul of our issues response and external communications policies.”
The initial backlash against Hannity began after the political commentator defended Moore on his radio show last week.
He referred to Republicans who were calling on Moore to step aside as “the swamp, the sewer” and suggested that the women accusing Moore were liars.
“How do you possibly know the truth?” Hannity said, and he went on to defend Moore’s alleged actions with girls who were between 16 and 18.
“He was apparently, like, 32, and he dated, one girl was 18, one girl was 17, they never said he did — there was no sexual — there was kissing involved, and then they’re saying this one encounter with a 14-year-old . . . ”
“And it was consensual,” his co-host said.
“And consensual, that’s true,” Hannity replied.
Critics seized on the remark to argue that Hannity was defending Moore’s behavior with a young girl by claiming it was consensual, when in fact 14-year-olds are not old enough to consent to sexual activity, but Hannity said he misspoke and was merely agreeing that the older teenagers were the ones who said they had consented.
Hannity said Sunday that he planned to buy 500 coffee makers to give away (presumably, they won’t be Keurigs).Christina Prignano can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the owner of the Keurig brand. It is investment firm JAB Holding Co.