Thursday, August 27, 2009

ABC, NBC Won't Air Ad Critical of Obama's Health Care Plan

By Joshua Rhett Miller

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President
Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind
the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in
prime time last June and hosted at the White House.

The 33-second ad by the League of American Voters, which features a
neurosurgeon who warns that a government-run health care system will lead to
the rationing of procedures and medicine, began airing two weeks ago on
local affiliates of ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. On a national level, however, ABC
and NBC have refused to run the spot in its present form.

"It's a powerful ad," said Bob Adams, executive director of the League of
American Voters, a national nonprofit group with 15,000 members who advocate
individual liberty and government accountability. "It tells the truth and it
really highlights one of the biggest vulnerabilities and problems with this
proposed legislation, which is it rations health care and disproportionately
will decimate the quality of health care for seniors."

Adams said the advertisement is running on local network affiliates in
states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Maine and Pennsylvania. But although CBS
has approved the ad for national distribution and talks are ongoing with
FOX, NBC has questioned some of the ad's facts while ABC has labeled it

"The ABC Television Network has a long-standing policy that we do not sell
time for advertising that presents a partisan position on a controversial
public issue," spokeswoman Susan Sewell said in a written statement. "Just
to be clear, this is a policy for the entire network, not just ABC News."

NBC, meanwhile, said it has not turned down the ad and will reconsider it
with some revisions.

"We have not rejected the ad," spokeswoman Liz Fischer told "We
have communicated with the media agency about some factual claims that
require additional substantiation. As always, we are happy to reconsider the
ad once these issues are addressed."

Adams objects to ABC's assertion that his group's position is partisan.

"It's a position that we would argue a vast majority of Americans stand
behind," he said. "Obviously, it's a message that ABC and the Obama
administration haven't received yet."

Dick Morris, a FOX News political analyst and the League of American Voters'
chief strategist, conceptualized the advertisement and said its purpose was
to "refocus" the debate on health care reform.

"I feel the whole debate on health care reform needed to be refocused on the
issue of Medicare," he told "Most of the debate had been on
issues of socialized medicine and cost. I felt that the impact of the
legislation in cutting the Medicare program and enforcing rationing needed
to be addressed."

Morris, a onetime advisor to former President Bill Clinton, said he was
particularly troubled by ABC's decision not to air the spot.

"It's the ultimate act of chutzpah because ABC is the network that turned
itself over completely to Obama for a daylong propaganda fest about health
care reform," he said. "For them to be pious and say they will not accept
advertising on health care shuts their viewers out from any possible
understanding of both sides of this issue."

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