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The Nation, Fox Spar Over Ad Buys

Fox News Channel and The Nation magazine seem clearly aligned on opposite ends of the editorial media spectrum. But their advertising sections had been cross-pollinating — until Fox blocked The Nation's attempt at a commercial buy last summer.

More than six months after The Nation sent the cable network a 60-second spot, The Nation's syndication director, Mike Webb, is still reeling from the rejection. He upped the ante online Friday.

In an e-mail addressed, "Greetings Web World," sent to scores of major media outlets, Webb lambastes Fox News' rejection of his magazine's commercial — especially because The Nation has accepted and published four Fox advertisements in less than two years.

Fox rejected the same television advertisement by the liberal magazine that it says Bravo, CNN, MSNBC, and TBS/TNT have accepted. Webb writes Fox's decision "is effectively stifling free speech," for political reasons.

A Fox News spokeswoman wouldn't accept nor reject the notion the ad was too liberal for the network, but told CBSNews.com: "We reject ads all the time for different reasons."

"I guess we're more selective than others," Fox's Irena Briganti said.

The Nation staff speculated early on that Fox prickled to their ad due to its reference to Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. encompasses Fox News. The commercial's audio suggests listeners try four weeks of free subscription to The Nation.

"Nobody owns The Nation — not Time Warner, not Murdoch," it says. "So there's no corporate slant, no White House spin, just the straight dope."

Upon hearing its ad was rejected by Fox, The Nation offered to remove the Murdoch reference. That didn't satisfy Fox.

However, The Nation made the same offer to TBS/TNT when it hesitated to accept the ad. TBS/TNT later accepted the redacted version.

Webb's e-mail follows a rekindling of the story, first run by The New York Times in late August, by The Village Voice's Press Clips columnist Jarrett Murphy.

According to the Voice, Fox News has spent thousands of dollars on full-page ads in The Nation, despite the magazine's fervent critique of the "fair and balanced," network. Two years before Fox took out a nearly $9,000 back-page ad, The Nation called Fox "a calculated mouthpiece for the right." Since, three other ads have run, including two costing $7,395 each.

Why would The Nation want to hawk subscriptions in reciprocation with Fox?
"While we've given much consideration to the idea of spending money with Fox News, the cost and number of people we will reach makes it an efficient buy," Webb says.

By Christine Lagorio