Fox News Channel's Laura Ingraham returned to work with defiance Monday, denouncing a "Stalinist" effort by liberals to stifle the free speech of conservatives and promising to make fighting it her new cause.
She made no mention of the advertisers who had abandoned her own program after she tweeted that a survivor of the Parkland, Florida school shooting had "whined" about not getting in to some colleges he had applied for.
That high school senior, David Hogg, responded by suggesting that people offended by Ingraham's remark contact her advertisers. Some 19 companies responded by saying they wouldn't air commercials on Ingraham's show.
Ingraham was on vacation for a week after apologizing via social media for her tweet. She hasn't discussed that episode with her viewers specifically, but it didn't take much reading between the lines to realize it was on her mind Monday. Ingraham even played a video clip of Bill Maher saying some liberals have defended free speech; Maher last week came out against a boycott of Ingraham's program.
She said that "left wing retaliatory hit squads" respond to speech that makes them uncomfortable by trying to evict opponents from the public square instead of debating their ideas.
"The free speech clause to our Constitution doesn't just apply to speech our elites deem acceptable," she said.
Hogg has been among the most vocal of the Parkland students arguing in favor of stricter laws on gun safety; Ingraham has resisted stricter gun laws.
Ingraham's show was light on advertisements Monday. But some sponsors stuck with her, with ads running for a visiting nurse service, a floor covering company, a debt relief company, a weight reduction drink, a knife sharpener and a pillow manufacturer.
Ingraham said she would feature stories in coming weeks about conservatives who she says are fighting attempts to silence them.
"We will never relent and we will never give in," she said. "Never."