Fox News Rejects Media Matters Ad Highlighting Its $1 Million GOP Donation, Admits News Corp Opposes 'Democratic Candidates'
Mediate's Colby Hall has a new report today raising the question of whether progressive media watchdog group Media Matters was "serious" about putting up the funds to run an ad on Fox News about News Corp's $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), pointing to the fact that Media Matters refused to edit its ad to meet Fox News' exact requests. But in an interview with the Huffington Post, Vice President of Research and Communications for Media Matters for America Ari Rabin-Havt disputed these accounts.
The idea behind the Media Matters ad was to bring viewers' attention to the political activities of News Corp, which is the Rupert-Murdoch run parent company of Fox News. According to Media Matters, Fox News has devoted just 17 seconds of airtime to the organization's RGA donation, despite extensive coverage by other outlets. The group attempted to make the ad as straightforward as possible, to make it harder for Fox to reject it. View the original ad here. Fox News, however, took issue with some of the copy of the ad. Here are the changes the network requested, as outlined in an e-mail from the media buyer to Media Matters:
1) The ad begins with "a message from Fox News". Clearly the message is from Media Matters, not Fox News Channel. So if you change the voiceover say... A message from Media Matters and not Fox News Channel that would fix the problem.
2) Later in the spot you say... "to opposed Democratic Governors". They want to clarify that statement to say... Democratic candidates, not Democratic Governors, because it's factually incorrect. Not all Democratic Governors are up for election.
Rabin-Havt told the Huffington Post that they refused to change the message to be from Media Matters, since it's a message in the words of a News Corp. executive. So as a compromise, the group changed it to, "And now, a special message that Fox News' primetime hosts refuse to tell you, brought to you by Media Matters," which is technically correct, since no primetime hosts have mentioned the donation. Media Matters did make the change, noting it was interesting that Fox News is now on record saying News Corp. opposes "Democratic candidates." Here is the new ad:
Rabin-Havt said he has not yet heard back from Fox News; the first time he learned that the network had rejected the ad is when he read the Mediaite story.
Rabin-Havt also took issue the question about whether the organization was really interested in ponying up the $35,000 for airtime during The O'Reilly Factor. Mediaite points to a recent e-mail from Media Matters President Eric Burns that solicited donations to pay for the ad, saying that it "seems to support the argument that this may have been nothing more than a publicity stunt." Rabin-Havt, however, told the Huffington Post that the group is totally "willing to run the ad" as long it's accurate. "We have the money allocated, we are more than happy to spend the money," he said, also noting that Mediaite never called him for comment.