This is just a completely ridiculous story. Here’s the backstory: This past January, CBS decided it would be a great idea to deny MoveOn.org from displaying ads based on a policy that would disallow any “advocacy advertising” that would have an “undue influence on “controversial issues of public importance.” Now, they are flipping their own rule on it’s ear and will be airing an “anti-Clinton ad” — paid for by the advocacy group Citizens United — during former President Bill Clinton’s interview on 60 Minutes. Media Matters has the full story (and backstory) in “CBS to air new ‘anti-Clinton ad’?”:
The Citizens United ad claims that Clinton is “responsible” for “leaving us vulnerable to terrorists.”
CBS’s airing of the Citizens United ad would be noteworthy because the network refused to run ads from MoveOn.org and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) during this year’s Super Bowl.
However, the network’s claim that it does not broadcast “advocacy” advertising or ads about “controversial issues of public importance” rang hollow at the outset. In January, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) noted in a floor speech that CBS has recently aired other advocacy ads, including controversial ads sponsored by the White House Drug Control Policy Agency.
CBS needs to get rid of this arbitrarily enforced policy. They should just show all the ads and let the public decide: if there’s misrepresentation in the ads, we’ll learn about it (behold, the blogosphere) and the effected parties can sue for libel and slander; If there’s truth in the ads, we’ll be better of because of them. This is an arrogant policy that is going to backfire in their faces unless they quickly change their tune.