Date: Tue Jan 27 2004 - 22:55:05 MST
attached mail follows:
Dear MoveOn member,
Over the last four days, something incredible has happened. CBS has received over 340,000 emails and phone calls asking it to stop its censorship. Clearly a huge number of us believe that CBS's refusal to run our Voter Fund ad, while allowing the Bush White House to run an advocacy ad of its own, is just plain wrong.
Columnists and editorial pages are writing about it. And on Monday, FCC commissioner Michael Copps issued a statement on it. These folks understand that this issue isn't just about our Voter Fund's ad -- an ad by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was censored as well. At heart, it's about free speech. Huge companies like CBS that control access to the publicly owned airwaves have to air opposing points of view.
CBS still refuses to run "Child's Pay." But together, we can increase the pressure on CBS. And through the power of the Internet, we can make sure that millions of people see the ad and learn about the controversy. As a first step, forward this email or the original message attached below to your friends. Ask them to check out the ad at:
They can also send an email to CBS and join the campaign at that address. If you haven't joined the campaign yet, you can sign the petition there as well.
Next, consider taking a moment to call CBS and let them know why you believe their refusal to run ads like this one is wrong. If you call, please be calm and polite -- it's not the folks who answer the phones' fault that CBS made this decision. You can reach them at:
CBS Comment Line
(We're spreading out the calls across a number of relevant CBS numbers, so hopefully you won't get a busy signal.)
After you've called, help us track the number of calls that are pouring in by going to:
If you have a website or blog of your own, you can also help by placing a banner ad or button on the site. This'll help push the ad to a whole new level of prominence. Click on the link below to get images and the code to put on your site:
Finally, you can contribute to the conversation in the nation's editorial pages by writing a letter to the editor. Here are a few tips on writing an effective letter:
- Brevity is the soul of wit.
- The key to publication is to pounce on something specific you've seen in the newspaper -- such as a story on Super Bowl advertising.
- Be sure to include your name and address, and especially your phone number when submitting your letter. Editors need to call you to verify authorship before they can print your letter. They don't print your phone number.
- Your newspaper's letters page should give you an email address or fax number to use, or you can try this website:
- Please let us know when you've sent your letter by going to:
Here are a few talking points you can use in your letter:
* It's about free speech. The First Amendment doesn't mean a whole lot if we're denied access to the airwaves. CBS has a constitutional obligation to air opposing points of view.
* If the White House can run an ad, other groups should be allowed to also. CBS will be airing an ad sponsored by the White House on this year's Super Bowl. Previous ads in this series have implied that buying drugs funds terrorism -- a much more controversial claim than the one "Child's Pay" makes.
* CBS just got a huge favor from the White House. Senator John McCain said that the bill was custom tailored to CBS and Fox, which have been lobbying heavily to be able to grow larger. MoveOn and other groups have lobbied against this bill. Now the White House is allowed to run an ad, and groups like MoveOn Voter Fund are not.
* What's "controversial"? CBS claims that it has a policy against running "controversial" issue ads. But the only line in the whole ad is a fact: President Bush has created a $1 trillion deficit. In fact, according to numbers released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office yesterday, that number's low.
As you know, this campaign is bigger than one ad. It's about free speech. We're putting the country's media on notice that we're not going to take censorship lying down.
--Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
The MoveOn.org Team
January 27th, 2003
P.S. Some of you have written in to tell us that local CBS affiliates are willing to run the ad. It's true, and it points out CBS' hypocrisy: If the "policy" under which it rejected this ad made sense for the national organization, one would think it would apply to the affiliates as well. Placing the ad nationally via affiliates would likely cost several times the $1.6 million to run it on the network. But even if in the end CBS still refuses to broadcast the ad nationwide, we'll make sure it gets on TV in a powerful way. Please stay tuned.
P.P.S. Here's the original message:
Dear friend of MoveOn,
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,(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.
Over the last year, you've been a part of our incredible campaign against media consolidation. CBS's censorship demonstrates why this issue is so important: a few big media companies can effectively stop political speech. If we can successfully highlight CBS's unfairness in the media, we'll be able to push forward our FCC campaign as well.
To watch the ad that CBS won't air and sign our petition to CBS, go to:
If you want to skip the ad and just sign the petition, go to:
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.
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.
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.(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 Zack
The MoveOn.org Team
January 23rd, 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:
P.P.S Here are the CBS affiliates in your state:
WBZ-TV, Boston: (617) 787-7000
1. "Who's Buying What At the Super Bowl," Ad Age, 1/20/04
2. CBS fax to MoveOn.org Voter Fund, 1/14/04
3. "Democrats Fold on 39% TV Cap Fight", Broadcasting and Cable, 1/21/04
4. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
5. "New Media Campaign Stresses Link between Drugs and Terrorism," U.S. Dept. of State
6. OpenSecrets.org: "CBS Television Network Soft Money Donations"
7. "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War," PIPA/Knowledge Networks Poll
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