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Fox News has rejected a national advertising buy for a 30-second spot that warns viewers about the potential dangers of American fascism after an ad sales representative said network leadership deemed it inappropriate, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The spot was to double as a promotion of this year’s Oscar-nominated documentary short A Night at the Garden, which recounts a 1939 Nazi rally in New York City, and a warning — “It Can Happen Here” — to Sean Hannity’s largely conservative viewers about the potential dangers of President Donald Trump’s brand of populism.
An ad was bought to air locally during Monday night’s edition of Hannity’s primetime show through a regional advertising buy on Charter Communications’ Spectrum service in Los Angeles, but was precluded by breaking news — coverage of President Trump’s rally in Texas.
The film’s distributor, Field of Vision, then decided to purchase a national spot on Hannity’s show, but was rebuffed by the network, which controls national advertising.
A Fox News national ad sales representative told the distributor’s media-buying agency on Wednesday that CEO Suzanne Scott (“our CEO”) said the ad was “not appropriate for our air,” according to email correspondence viewed by THR.
Cable networks like Fox News do not oversee locally bought ads but can reject national advertising spots. In August 2017, CNN declined to run a paid advertisement from the Trump re-election campaign because it portrayed some of the network’s news personalities as “enemies” of the president, a decision the campaign decried as censorship.
“The film shines a light on a time when thousands of Americans fell under the spell of a demagogue who attacked the press and scapegoated minorities using the symbols of American patriotism,” Night at the Garden director Marshall Curry said in a statement to THR.
He added, “It’s amazing to me that the CEO of Fox News would personally inject herself into a small ad buy just to make sure that Hannity viewers weren’t exposed to this chapter of American history.”
To fulfill Monday’s aborted local ad buy, the documentary’s ad will run during Thursday night’s episode of Hannity in Los Angeles, through Charter. The film’s backers also plan to advertise on other national cable news networks.
Night at the Garden marks Curry’s third Oscar nomination, following nods for his 2005 documentary on now-Sen. Cory Booker (Street Fight) and the 2011 film If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.
Field of Vision, the documentary unit of First Look Media, was created by Citizenfour filmmaker Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack and Charlotte Cook.
A Fox News spokesperson has not yet responded to a request for comment.