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Exxon Cease-And-Desist Order Gets Climate Change Ad Pulled From State Of The Union Coverage

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A still from the 'Exxon Hates Your Children' ad, which was ordered off the air just hours before it was supposed to be broadcast on Fox News during the State of the Union. (photo credit: The Other 98%)
A still from the 'Exxon Hates Your Children' ad, which was ordered off the air just hours before it was supposed to be broadcast on Fox News during the State of the Union. (photo credit: The Other 98%)

Exxon Mobil gave a cease-and-desist order to Comcast, forcing the cable provider to pull an ad about climate change from Fox News' coverage of the State of the Union address in some areas Tuesday night, according to emails provided to The Huffington Post by one of the groups responsible for the ad.

The satirical spot, which is brazenly titled "Exxon Hates Your Children" and urges Congress to eliminate fossil fuel industry subsidies, was produced by progressive advocacy groups Oil Change International, The Other 98% and Environmental Action. Having already aired on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "Up With Chris Hayes", the video has also been viewed more than 170,000 times on YouTube.

The ad was scheduled to air Tuesday in Houston, Texas, and Denver, Colo., during Fox's State of the Union coverage. However, a few hours before the event began, a senior vice president of Universal McCann, which handles global media duties for Exxon, fired off an email to Comcast, which provides Fox programming in those areas.

"Please let this serve as an official cease & desist notification that claims made by Oil Change International that their claims in any spot that 'ExxonMobil Hates Your Children' is false and unsubstantiated," the email stated.

"ExxonMobil fully expects the spot in question to be pulled down immediately," the email continued. "Any delay in executing this cease & desist will be viewed as willful defamation and slander of the Exxon Mobil Corporation and will result in aggressive action."

The ad did not air at all on Tuesday night, David Turnbull of Oil Change International told HuffPost.

When asked what the basis was for the cease-and-desist order, Kimberly Brasington, a spokesperson for Exxon Mobil Corporation told HuffPost in an email: "The advertisement is offensive, nonsensical and fails to meet any basic standard of accuracy, so we requested that the broadcast network reconsider airing it."

Now, the groups that made the ad are fighting back.

By Friday afternoon, a donation page created by the three activist groups that made the ad -- Oil Change International, The Other 98% and Environmental Action -- had raised over $13,000 to help make sure the ad gets seen by more people.

A petition launched Thursday by The Other 98% aims to raise awareness of Exxon's efforts to block the ad and, in just 24 hours, gathered over 21,000 signatures.

“Exxon thinks that they can take away our right to freedom of speech. They have made a huge mistake. They will only make us louder,” John Sellers of The Other 98% said in a statement released to the press Thursday.

"We feel that we're on strong footing with the ad and hope that Comcast will change their mind," Oil Change International's Turnbull said.

Comcast did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Watch the "Exxon Hates Your Children" ad above.

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