When Fox News turns down advertising money

WHEN FOX NEWS TURNS DOWN ADVERTISING MONEY…. VoteVets, a progressive organization founded by veterans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, unveiled a strong television ad last week, connecting a climate bill to the nation’s national security interests. The spot notes that “a clean energy climate plan would cut our dependence on foreign oil in half and cut oil profits for hostile nations.” Sounds right to me.

The ad has already aired on CNN and MSNBC, but not on Fox News. It’s not because the group didn’t try; it’s because the network refused the commercial. A spokesperson for VoteVets said Fox News rejected the ad as “too confusing.”

I realize the Republican network isn’t especially sharp, but if it’s confused by the connection between energy policy and national security, it really ought to try reading more.

As VoteVets’ Richard Allen Smith put it, “There’s nothing confusing about the link between oil and terrorist funding, and even the most dyed-in-the-wool neocons agree on that point. The only confusing thing here is why FOX News would reject an ad that calls on Congress to defund our enemies by finding new sources of energy.”

For the larger context, it’s also worth remembering that this isn’t the first time Fox News has rejected advertising with messages that ran counter to the network’s preconceived narratives. In 2007, for example, the Center for Constitutional Rights tried to buy an ad criticizing torture, but Fox News refused to air it. Bill O’Reilly soon after insisted the ad was “anti-American.”

In 2005, Fox News also refused to accept an ad criticizing then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

And in 2006, Fox News was one of several networks to reject an ad from the United Church of Christ that told viewers, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”

It seems like all of these rejected ads have something in common — a progressive message that Fox News would prefer its viewers not be exposed to. Epistemic closure isn’t easy to maintain, but the network is doing its part.