Fox News said no to a 30-second national ad buy for the Oscar-nominated documentary short A Night at the Garden, which portrays a 1939 Nazi rally of 20,000 Americans gathered in Manhattan, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Before Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott deemed the ad “not appropriate for our air,” the short film’s distributor bought an ad to air locally in Los Angeles on Monday during the primetime Hannity hour.
But the local ad for the short – which features uncut footage of American fascists marching into Madison Square Garden and contains the warning “It Can Happen Here” – was cut when Fox News shifted from its scheduled programming to Trump’s rally at the El Paso County Coliseum, where the president encouraged an adoring crowd of 6,500 to boo the press, praised the law enforcement capabilities of the German shepherd, and claimed that “illegal immigration hurts all Americans.”
When the distributor, Field of Vision, learned the local ad was bumped by the president’s speech, they attempted to buy a national spot on Hannity, but the network did not accept the purchase. Fox News does not have control over regional ad buys, but can reject spots set to air nationally.
“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 told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
In a statement to The Week, president for ad sales at Fox News Marianne Gambelli said that the “ad in question is full of disgraceful Nazi imagery regardless of the film’s message and did not meet our guidelines.” To fulfill the contract, the ad will now run in Los Angeles during Hannity on Thursday.
Advertisers have used Fox News air time to make political points before, including billionaire Tom Steyer, who bought $10 million in advertising to argue for the impeachment of President Trump, before the channel pulled the spots. In 2017 and 2018, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver bought ad time during Hannity and Fox & Friends in the hopes of educating the president about such policy basics as the nuclear triad and the Iran deal.