Fox News refuses to run Capitol riot ad — but was it really political censorship?

Fox News rejects ad featuring Capitol riot and police testimony; liberal PAC calls network "fascist echo chamber"

By Zachary Petrizzo
Published June 9, 2021 5:50AM (EDT)
Advertisements featuring Fox News personalities, including Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, adorn the front of the News Corporation building, (Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Advertisements featuring Fox News personalities, including Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, adorn the front of the News Corporation building, (Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Fox News has rejected an advertisement that features video clips of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, along with testimony from police officers who were attacked or injured while attempting to hold back fervent Trump supporters as they breached the doors of Congress. The ad was created by MeidasTouch, a liberal activist organization and PAC.

"We made a $184,854 TV buy with this ad on Fox News this week. Fox News just denied airing our ad," the liberal organization tweeted on Sunday. 

The ad prominently features remarks from police officers who shared first-hand accounts of the historic assault on the Capitol five months ago, including criticism of Republican lawmakers for their watered-down condemnations of the attack. 

A Fox News spokesperson told Salon this isn't the first time the network has turned down MeidasTouch advertisements. In an April feature story, which MeidasTouch has disputed, Rolling Stone reported, "It's not hard to find examples of how MeidasTouch's grandiose self-promotion doesn't match reality."  

Ben Meiselas, the co-founder of MeidasTouch, told Salon on Tuesday that he was confident Fox News had rejected the Capitol-themed ad because of its political content. 

"Fox is refusing to run the MeidasTouch ad because they are scared of it," Meiselas wrote by email on Tuesday afternoon. "Fox is not news. It is an anti-Democratic fascist propaganda network whose repeated big lies killed hundreds of thousands of people during COVID and caused the January 6th insurrection. Fox has become the gatekeeper to the fascist echo chamber they created, and they don't want to expose their viewers to truth. Fox wants to destroy our democracy." 

Many liberals on Twitter appeared to agree that Fox News must have turned down the ad for political reasons, but CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter, an outspoken critic of Fox News, doesn't fully buy that argument. In a recent media newsletter, Stelter wrote: "A liberal group, MeidasTouch, is crying foul because Fox has declined to air its TV ad about January 6. But let's be honest — this seems like a bid for attention. Fox is within its rights to object to the messenger behind the ad, not the message." 

On Monday night, MSNBC host Brian Williams aired a segment on the MeidasTouch controversy. 

CORRECTION: This article has been revised since its original publication to remove an imprecise description of the Rolling Stone article about MeidasTouch, and to clarify that MeidasTouch disputes many of the characterizations in that article.


Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo is a staff writer at Salon. He previously covered politics at Mediaite and The Daily Dot. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo. Send him tips: zpetrizzo@salon.com

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Brian Stelter Brian Williams Brief Capitol Riot Fox News Jan. 6 Meidastouch