Fair. Balanced. American.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The DNC has started running a blunt new television ad, which accuses George Bush of misleading the nation in his State of the Union address. The RNC wants it off the air. Here's the letter their lawyer has written to stations in Madison, WI, where the ad is running first (courtesy of a DNC email):

Dear Station Manager:

It has come to our attention that your station will begin airing false and misleading advertisements on July 21, 2003, paid for by the Democratic National Committee. The advertisement in question misrepresents President George W. Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address. The advertisement states that President Bush said, "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." In fact, President Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." By selectively quoting President Bush, the advertisement is deliberately false and misleading. Furthermore, the British government continues to stand by its intelligence and asserts that it believes the intelligence is genuine.

The Democratic National Committee certainly has a legitimate First Amendment right to participate in political debate, but it has no right to willfully spread false information in a deliberate attempt to mislead the American people. These advertisements will not be run by legally qualified candidates; therefore, your station is under no legal obligation to air them. On the contrary, as an FCC licensee you have the responsibility to exercise independent editorial judgment to not only oversee and protect the American marketplace of ideas, essential for the health of our democracy, but also to avoid deliberate misrepresentations of the facts. Such obligations must be taken seriously.

This letter puts you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading; therefore, you are obligated to refrain from airing this advertisement.

Respectfully,

Caroline C. Hunter
Counsel

Of course, the ad nowhere near approaches the depths of evil to which GOP campaigns have gone. Laughingly, the letter points out that the deliberate misrepresentation of facts hurts democracy. The DNC's response?

We agree. And that's why we are demanding an independent investigation of President Bush, and why we want to run this hard-hitting ad in as many places as we can.

Way to go. The letter is a dirty threat that the DNC - and television stations - have nothing to worry about. Political speech is considered the highest form of speech under the First Amendment.

The DNC says it will run the ad nationally using money it raises via the internet. Now what it needs to do it rip a page from Howard Deans' playbook: make it easy and exciting to contribute. In addition to traditional methods of fudnraising, it needs to reach out to bloggers, spread the word formally, and turn it into a telethon. Terry McAuliffe has smelled the scent already, with the fledgling ePatriots program. Now he has to take to the chase.

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