NRC Broadcasting has refused to run the newest campaign ad by Bill Winter, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in CD-6. The ad, that began running earlier this week, highlights Congressman Tom Tancredo’s personal and financial ties to a number of leaders and organizations in the “White Power” movement.
Winter’s campaign manager, Berrick Abramson, was informed by the General Sales Manager at NRC that the ad was pulled on direct orders from NRC Broadcasting’s CEO, Tim Brown, a major Republican donor who has given over twelve thousand dollars to various Republican candidates in 2006 including Marilyn Musgrave, Doug Lamborn, Scott Tipton, Rick O’Donnell, Rick Santorum and Winter opponent Tom Tancredo.
The Winter for Congress campaign began airing the radio ad titled “Dateline: South Carolina” earlier this week addressing Tom Tancredo’s ties to a number of “right-wing hate groups” like the League of the South and Aryan Brotherhood.
On Tuesday, October 31, the campaign also issued a press release titled, “Winter Calls on Tancredo to Sever Racist Ties,” in which the campaign provided more detail about the direct ties between Mr. Tancredo and these hate groups. Additionally they posted full documentation on their web site backing up all the claims made in both the radio add and the press released.
On Wednesday, November 1, shortly before noon, the Winter for Congress campaign received an e-mail from a sales representative of NRC Broadcasting, whose stations include Jack FM and KCUV, claiming that the stations were getting “lots of complaints” about the “Dateline: South Carolina” radio spot and suggesting, “Can we pull it?” After advising the representative of NRC to refer any complaints to the campaign and providing them with both the statement issued by the campaign as well as significant documentation supporting the claims made in the spot, a representative of NRC wrote to the campaign stating, “wish it was that simple. Management has given me no other choice put (sic) to pull this spot.”
At the time of the last e-mail message from the NRC message, the Winter campaign had not received any complaints from other stations, despite the ad being in heavy rotation on nearly every station in the market. When campaign manager Berrick Abramson spoke with the General Sales Manager at NRC, the campaign was told that “the CEO heard the spot and wants it off the air,” according to Abramson.
When Abramson asked if there were any claims or assertions that anything in the ad was false, Abramson was told “No, the CEO just doesn’t like it,” and that “you have to admit, it’s pretty harsh on Tancredo.” After pointing out that there were no complaints from other networks, the General Manager conceded that the “complaint” had come from “down the hall” in Mr. Brown’s office. In spite of the acknowledgement that the ad contained no factual errors, the Winter campaign was advised that CEO Tim Brown “had made his decision” to have the ad pulled.
Winter campaign manager Berrick Abramson, noted “Mr. Brown is entitled to his political views, but when he crosses the line by censoring what messages go out over the public airwaves, he has crossed the line from expressing his opinion and is now suppressing free speech.”
“It’s difficult enough to understand the apathy surrounding Mr. Tancredo’s indisputable ties to a network of hate groups,” remarked Abramson, “but it’s even more difficult to fathom that somebody allegedly serving as trustee of the public airwaves, would abuse that position in order to prevent the public from knowing about Mr. Tancredo’s disgraceful record.”
[Update 11-02-2006,1:40PM EST:] It looks like Tim Brown is trying to now backpedal on the ad cancellation. From today’s Rocky Mountain News
The executive, Tim Brown, chief operating officer for NRC Broadcasting, said he does not consider the ad titled “Dateline: South Carolina” offensive, and it continues to run on the air.
But Berrick Abramson, Winter’s campaign manager, said he was called by a station representative early Wednesday and told the ads had to be pulled.
An e-mail message forwarded to the Rocky Mountain News by Abramson seems to confirm that.
“Management has given me no choice but to pull this spot. As I said, we will be happy to run your other spots, but we cannot run the South Carolina spot,” the e-mail, apparently from NRC’s Neil Conway, said.