Why Is Fox News Afraid to Run an Anti-Nazi Ad on ‘Hannity’?

As things get stranger by the day at Fox News, the network found itself in a controversy after refusing to air an ad for an Oscar-nominated short film on the rise of Nazism during Hannity broadcasts.

The ad for the short (titled Night at the Garden) shows the 1939 Nazi rally at New York’s Madison Square Garden and led with the headline, “It can happen here.” That line referenced a 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel that warned of the potential for fascism to take hold in America.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story, the CEO of Fox News personally intervened to drop the ad from national broadcasts because it was “not appropriate” for the network.

Given how Fox News hasn’t had trouble with such things in the past — and how its broadcasters frequently condemn antisemitism — it seemed odd that the network would not allow the ad to air. That led media observers to consider other reasons Fox thought Hannity viewers might object to it.

Fox News execs started with ‘not appropriate’ and ended with ‘disgraceful.’

The spot for ‘Night at the Garden’ rejected by Fox News

In a statement to THR by Marshall Curry, director of Night at the Garden, it’s clear the film’s creators saw a connection to the present.

“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,” Curry said.

He also expressed surprise that the head of Fox decided to limit the ad’s reach. “It’s amazing to me that the CEO of Fox News would personally … make sure that Hannity viewers weren’t exposed to this chapter of American history,” Curry told THR.

In comments to The Daily Beast following that report, the head of Fox News ad sales said the ad was “full of disgraceful Nazi imagery regardless of the film’s message.” She also noted that it didn’t meet the network’s guidelines.

Yet that position seems inconsistent with programs the network aired in the past. And the ad’s presentation makes it clear that — in case Fox News viewers weren’t sure — the fascists are the bad guys here.

Fear of offending viewers or the endorsement by MSNBC?

Fox News host Sean Hannity interviews Donald Trump before a 2018 campaign rally. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

If you watch the ad (as Fox News execs surely did), you’ll see that fascists look terrible in it. There’s no ambiguity. As the titles roll, you see outlets describing the film showing the Nazi rally as “shocking” and “chilling.”

For anyone still wondering, you see men in Nazi uniforms beating on what appears to be a protester toward the end of the ad. It happens fast and puts all things fascist in a bad light.

So when you hear from a prominent Fox News employee about “disgraceful” imagery, it sounds like misdirection. In effect, the network wants to provoke outrage over images in a film instead of its own decision to block the ad from running nationally.

In the past, Fox didn’t have a problem with similar content.

We’ll also note the outlets in the film’s titles. The first quote comes from MSNBC, Fox’s chief rival in cable news. (The Rachel Maddow Show replaced Hannity as the top program late in 2018.) A second quote (“chilling”) comes from The Washington Post, an outlet Trump attacks frequently.

We’re guessing no one at Fox loved the idea of those two outlets gaining any high moral ground here. When you’re watching the preferred network of a president who described white nationalists in Charlottesville as a side with “very fine people,” you start to wonder.

After all, political scientists said Trump’s Charlottesville comments “may have scored political points among parts of his base.” What show does Trump’s base watch? Hannity. Everyone knows that. It makes you wonder which aspects of the ad were inappropriate — and to whom.

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