News flash: American history is inappropriate at Fox News.
This astounding exclusive comes via Jeremy Barr of the Hollywood Reporter, who apprises us that the No. 1 cable-news network has turned down money to promote “A Night at the Garden,” a seven-minute short film on the ever-looming threat that fascism could take root in the United States. At issue is a 30-second spot titled “It Can Happen Here," containing highlights from the short film; it showcases people packed into Madison Square Garden raising their hands amid Nazi imagery. The film’s distributor wanted the ad to air during “Hannity,” the Trump-boosting prime-time show hosted by Sean Hannity.
An appropriate adjacency.
The subject at hand is straight-up American history. The get-together at the Garden occurred on Feb. 20, 1939, which was concurrent with the construction of Hitler’s sixth concentration camp, according to the film. Even back then, euphemism was in style, as the Garden’s marquee billed the event as a “Pro American Rally." In a piece on the event, historian Gordon F. Sander noted that Americans had already known about Nazi atrocities including Kristallnacht. “But that was in Europe. This was America. New York City. For Americans wondering whether it could happen here, the Bund rally provided the awful answer,” wrote Sander. Fritz Julius Kuhn, leader of the German American Bund, addressed the crowd from the podium at the Garden, just narrowly escaping a charging protester who was engulfed by foot soldiers of Kuhn’s security unit.
As Barr notes: “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."
Fox News even furnished an explanation to Field of Vision. An email reviewed by Barr indicates that an ad rep for Fox News had indicated to Field of Vision that Suzanne Scott, Fox News’s CEO, had determined that the spot was “not appropriate for our air."
So American history doesn’t meet Fox News guidelines. That’s odd, because Fox News never seemed to have any quibbles about promoting the American history book of host Brian Kilmeade under the title “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates.” Nor did it seem to have any quibbles about promoting the American history book of host Bret Baier under the title “Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission." Nor did it seem to have any quibbles about promoting the American history books of Bill O’Reilly under the titles “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Reagan,” “Killing Kennedy," “Killing Patton.” And so on.
Mind you: In those instances, Fox News used its own airtime to promote American history. In the case of “It Can Happen Here,” it won’t even allow American history onto its airwaves in an advertisement. Further grist: “A Night at the Garden” won an Oscar nomination, along with this synopsis: “On February 20, 1939, more than 20,000 Americans gathered in Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism. Archival footage shows the speech given by Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the German American Bund, as he urges his supporters to mistrust the media and free America from the influence of Jews.”
Fox News didn’t respond to the Erik Wemple Blog’s requests for comment. Gizmodo corralled this comment from Fox News PR, attributed to ad sales president Marianne Gambelli: "The ad in question is full of disgraceful Nazi imagery regardless of the film’s message and did not meet our guidelines.”
“It’s amazing to me that the C.E.O. 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,” Marshall Curry, director of “A Night at the Garden,” told the Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
At least there’s some symmetry here: Hannity gaslights his audience during the segments; Fox News gaslights the audience during the ads.