A Fox News email reviewed by IndieWire indicated that Suzanne Scott, CEO of the cable news giant, intervened to stop the sale of a national 30-second advertising slot for Marshall Curry’s Oscar-nominated anti-Nazi short documentary “A Night at the Garden.”
Fox News’ national advertising sales team has no direct involvement or control over local ad buys, and the ad will air Thursday, February 14 in the Los Angeles market on Charter Communications-operated cable systems during “Hannity.” But when “A Night At the Garden” producers Field of Vision decided to allocate budget for a national ad buy on “Hannity,” they received a response from a Fox News staffer on February 13 indicating that the CEO felt the ad’s content was inappropriate for the channel.
In a statement to IndieWire, Fox News president of ad sales Marianne Grabelli said, “The ad in question is full of disgraceful Nazi imagery regardless of the film’s message and did not meet our guidelines.” Reviewing the email sent from Fox News to Field of Vision, however, makes it clear that the decision not to accept the ad buy came from the CEO.
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When IndieWire asked a Fox News spokesperson whether it is usual for Scott to review individual ad sales, the spokesperson said there would be no further comment beyond the statement.
The choice by Fox News has already been called out by The Daily Beast as hypocritical, citing a 30-second commercial that aired last August for Dinesh D’Souza’s “Death of a Nation,” which included Nazi symbols and someone dressed as Hitler. At press time, a Fox News spokesperson had not yet responded to IndieWire’s request for comment about the D’Souza ad.
On January 28, an ad for the Simon Wiesenthal Center that featured swastikas and concentration camp footage aired during “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” according to iSpot.tv, which tracks TV ad placement. That commercial was titled “The Memory Is Under Assault.”
“We have gotten prices for other networks [to air this ad] and are considering it, but aren’t 100% sure yet,” said Curry by text about his film, which is one of the five nominees for Best Documentary Short at the Academy Awards on February 24. “We’re discussing how TV ads stack up against online ads or other newspaper ads. To be honest we’d love to win an Oscar, but we mostly just want to get this into the world so we will be continuing to do advertising and outreach after voting closes.”
“A Night at the Garden” is a seven-minute short consisting solely of archival footage of a Nazi rally that took place at Madison Square Garden in 1939. Mixing the Stars and Stripes with swastikas, the event was packed with attendees, looking much like a Nazi rally in Germany. The organizer and main speaker was Fritz Julius Kuhn, leader of the German American Bund, an organization with direct ties to Third Reich leadership.
Curry’s film reminds viewers of just how popular Nazi ideology was with large swaths of the American public in the late 1930s, when isolationist sentiment ran high — and speaks to how easily such ideology can take root again. IndieWire film editor Kate Erbland called it the best of the five Oscar-nominated short documentaries and predicted it was most likely to win.
Curry added, “Field of Vision has paid all of the expenses for our ads and screenings and outreach.”