Republican Advertisement Backfires

Democrat Michael Acuri is running against Republican Ray Meier in upstate New York for a Congressional seat. As Election Day nears, the campaigns appear to be heating up with Republicans running a controversial advertisement that several television stations are refusing to air. According to an AP story:

“It seemed like a “gotcha” moment for Republicans in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country: catching the Democratic candidate calling a sex phone line and billing the call to the local taxpayers. Now it may backfire on the Republicans.”

According to Acuri, Oneida County District Attorney, the two-year-old phone call was a wrong number. In fact, it was immediately followed by a call to the state Department of Criminal Justice with the same last seven digits. It could have even been dialed by an aide. And the phone call cost taxpayers a whopping total of $1.25.

In response to the discovery of the telephone call:

”The national GOP campaign office started airing an ad Friday that showed Arcuri leering at the silhouette of a dancing woman who says, ''Hi, sexy. You've reached the live, one-on-one fantasy line.”

According to the article, Acuri is threatening a lawsuit. Seven television stations in Syracuse, Utica, and Binghamton refused to run the advertisement.

I’m curious if it is ethical for television stations to refuse to run campaign commercials? Does it show bias on the part of the station? Did they believe the ad to be defamatory? Untrue? Does this imply bias? Were they afraid of being sued? Or did they exercise sound judgment? Would they have run an equally negative ad from the Democrats? Or were they following some company policy?

If I was a newspaper editor, I don’t know if I would run a similar advertisement. The telephone call appears to be an honest mistake and the advertisement is therefore misleading. Yet when you decide what you will and won’t run you enter subjective, murky territory. Where do you draw the line? And should you?

Recent comments



Syndicate content