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Fox News an absentee voter.

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Liberals still fuming over Fox News Channel's role in the drama that was Election Night 2000 will likely scratch their heads watching "Recount," the new HBO movie chronicling those events and the battle for Florida.

At least in this case, however, there's no conspiracy.

Fox, famously, was the first to call Florida for George W. Bush, at 2:16 a.m. The major networks quickly followed. In the aftermath, much was written about a Bush cousin who worked for Fox, John Ellis, his interaction with Florida Gay. Jeb Bush and the extent of Ellis' involvement in Fox's call.

Yet those watching the HBO movie, which stars Kevin Spacey and premieres May 25, won't see any Fox News footage. By contrast, there's plenty of Dan Rather anchoring CBS' coverage, rattling off election-night Dan-isms like, "This presidential race is hotter than the Devil's anvil."

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The reasons, though, are apparently more pragmatic than political. According to HBO, only CNN (a sister Time Warner channel) and NBC allowed the movie to use clips. Other material from ABC and CBS was accessed under "fair use" guidelines.

"We looked for footage from all the major news networks," explains an HBO spokeswoman. "While some of them licensed footage to us, Fox declined to do so, and we were unable to obtain the footage from another source."

Fox News doesn't normally license clips featuring its talent, and relies on a clearinghouse to deal with such requests. But because the network (which launched in 1996) was still in its relative infancy back in 2000, the channel's footage wasn't being extensively archived, meaning fair-use material from that far back isn't widely available.

So despite Fox's featured role in 2000, in "Recount," the channel landed on history's cutting-room floor.

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Title Annotation:Fox News Network L.L.C. in Recount
Author:Lowry, Brian
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief article
Date:May 12, 2008
Words:292
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