Probably preaching to the choir here…but in case you’re not on the MoveOn list, here’s a petition to CBS about their refusal to air MoveOn’s ad, while running other issue ads. There’s also some good links at the bottom.
During this year’s Super Bowl, you’ll see ads sponsored by beer companies,
tobacco companies, and the Bush White House.1 But
you won’t see the winning ad in MoveOn.org Voter Fund’s Bush in 30 Seconds ad
contest. CBS refuses to air it.2
Meanwhile, the White House is on the verge of signing into law a deal which
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says is custom-tailored for CBS and Fox, href="#3">3 allowing the two networks to grow much bigger. CBS lobbied
hard for this rule change; MoveOn.org members across the country lobbied against
it; and now our ad has been rejected while the White House ad will be played. It
looks an awful lot like CBS is playing politics with the right to free speech.
Of course, this is bigger than just the MoveOn.org Voter Fund. People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted an ad that was also
rejected.4 But this isn’t even a
progressive-vs.-conservative issue. The airwaves are publicly owned, so we have
a fundamental right to hear viewpoints from across the ideological spectrum.
That’s why we need to let CBS know that this practice of arbitrarily turning
down ads that may be “controversial” — especially if they’re controversial
simply because they take on the President — just isn’t right.
We’ll deliver the petition by email directly to CBS headquarters.
You also may want to let your local CBS affiliate know you’re unhappy about
this decision. We’ve attached a list of the CBS affiliates in your state at the
bottom of this email. Remember, a polite, friendly call will be most effective
— just explain to them why you believe CBS’ decision hurts our democracy.
CBS will claim that the ad is too controversial to air. But the message of
the ad is a simple statement of fact, supported by the President’s own figures.
Compared with 2002’s White House ad which claimed that drug users are supporting
terrorism,5 it hardly even registers.
CBS will also claim that this decision isn’t an indication of political bias.
But given the facts, that’s hard to believe. CBS overwhelmingly favored
Republicans in its political giving, and the company spent millions courting the
White House to stop FCC reform.6 According to a
well-respected study, CBS News was second only to Fox in failing to correct
common misconceptions about the Iraq war which benefited the Bush Administration
— for example, the idea that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11. href="#7">7
This is not a partisan issue. It’s critical that our media institutions be
fair and open to all speakers. CBS is setting a dangerous precedent, and unless
we speak up, the pattern may continue. Please call on CBS to air ads which
address issues of public importance today.
–Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, Noah, Peter, Wes, and
The MoveOn.org Team
January 22nd, 2003
P.S. Our friends at Free Press have put together a page which explains simply
how CBS and the FCC rule change are integrally linked. Check it out at:
href="http://www.adage.com/news.cms?newsId=39561" target=_blank>“Who’s Buying
What At the Super Bowl,” Ad Age, 1/20/04
2. CBS fax to MoveOn.org Voter Fund, 1/14/04
target=_blank>“Democrats Fold on 39% TV Cap Fight”, Broadcasting and Cable,
4. target=_blank>People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
target=_blank>“New Media Campaign Stresses Link between Drugs and
Terrorism,” U.S. Dept. of State
6. target=_blank>“CBS Television Network Soft Money Donations,” Opensecrets.org
target=_blank>“Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War,” PIPA/Knowledge