Strong-Arming the Media

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Last week I wrote a commentary about strong arm tactics being used in Missouri by the Obama camp. Obama had talked two fellow Democrats into censoring anything being heard or shown in the state that showed Sen. Obama in an unfavorable light. Gov. Blunt stood up and denounced the acts of these Democrats and Barack Obama, posting a strong letter concerning the matter on the Missouri state website. This was largely passed over by the media in deference to the economic crisis.

At the same time there was another battle being fought on the same front in Pennsylvania and Ohio. As you recall, Ohio already had been carrying quite a big cross on their shoulders over ACORN tactics being used by the organization in the voter registration and absentee voting saga – registering homeless and transient people while instructing them to vote for Obama. According to several exit interviews, newly registered voters stated that that was the situation and they did as they were told. It’s estimated that ACORN was successful in registering approximately 8000 voters, well under their goal of 100,000, but enough to cause a major stink Nov. 4th if the vote is close – as it’s predicted to be. As you also recall, Obama has a history with the federally indicted organization, and ACORN was the intended recipient of a 20% payback on the recently passed bailout bill. That windfall for ACORN was stopped by the House Republicans in the first revision of the bill – once they were included in the process. It’s widely believed that had McCain not inserted himself into the Washington process, and brought the House Republicans to the table, ACORN would now be enjoying billions of our taxpayer dollars.

After failing in his efforts to strong arm the Missouri into squashing the 1st amendment rights of anyone not favoring Obama, apparently Obama felt it was time to pull out the big guns against the NRA (pun intended). Let me introduce you to Mr. Robert F. Bauer, General Counsel for Obama for America.

In response to ads running against Obama by the NRA in battleground states, Mr. Bauer’s attention was dispatched to Pennsylvania and Ohio. He immediately fired off a cease and desist letter to TV stations in both states. It was written on Obama-Biden stationary:

“September 23, 2008

Dear Station Manager:

As General Counsel to Obama for America, I write about an advertisement sponsored by the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) that may be airing on your station. The text of the advertisement, and a thorough explanation of its falsity, is attached.

This advertisement knowingly misleads your viewing audience about
Senator Obama’s position on the Second Amendment. In an article published today, the Washington Post fact-checks this advertisement and awards it three “Pinocchios.” Meaning: “Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.” For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should refuse to continue to air this advertisement.”

Interesting to note is that Mr. Bauer – in a legal letter – sites a NEWSPAPER to defend their position! The letter goes on to site their argument against the ad, and this:

“Unlike federal candidates, independent political organizations do not have a “right to command the use of broadcast facilities”. See CBS b. DNC, 412 U.S. 94, 113 (1973). Because you need not air this advertisement your station bears responsibility for its content when you do grant access. See Felix v. Westinghouse Radio Stations, 186 F.2d 1, 6(3rd Cir.), cert. denied, 314 U.S. 909 (1950).

Moreover, you have a duty “to protect the public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising.” Licensee Responsibility with Respect to the Broadcast of False. Misleading or Deceptive Advertising 74 F.C.C. 2d 623 (1961) Failure to prevent the airing of “false and misleading advertising” may be “probative of an underlying abdication of licensee responsibility.” Cosmopolitan Broad. Corp v. FCC, 581 F. 2d 917, 927 (D.C. Cir. 1978).

This advertisement is false, misleading, and deceptive. We request that you immediately cease airing this advertisement.

We would request the courtesy of a reply; and if you have questions, or believe that this ad is somehow fit for airing on your station, we ask that we have an opportunity to discuss this matter further, in person or by conference call.

Please contact Kendall Burman, at (312) 819-2433 or kburman@barackobama.com, for more information or to inform us of your decision. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

The NRA wasted no time making this threat to their 1st amendment rights public, posting both the Obama letter in it’s entirety (15 pages), and their own answer and fact checking that was fired back to the station managers. On October 3rd this appeared on the front page of the NRA website:

“The Obama campaign is now actively trying to silence your voice. They’ve sent a cease and desist letter to television stations in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, telling them to stop airing an NRA ad that truthfully points out some of Barack Obama’s anti-gun positions.

Let me say that again. There is nothing false or inaccurate about the TV ad. The Obama campaign knows they can’t win without deceiving gun owners, and the only way to do that is to stop NRA’s voice from being heard.

We’ve sent our own letter to these television stations, defending the ad and fact-checking the Obama campaign. It’s sad but not unexpected that Obama would try to shut us up.

He’s already shown he’s no friend of the Second Amendment. Now he’s showing he’s no friend of the First, either.”

Take a look at the ads the NRA is running.

Well, now isn’t this interesting. Of course we’re talking about a 527 ad here, and there are plenty of them out there. I think we’ve all seen plenty coming from 527s on both sides. The most recent one I’ve seen is the California Nurses organization’s attempt to tell us John McCain still has cancer and is going to die, ignoring 1100 pages of medical records to the contrary – which they say in interviews is “just too much to read”. The worse one I’ve seen is showing the horrible scars of John McCain just after extensive cancer surgery and touting that he – of course – will die. Everyone but MSNBC declined to air that one, they aired it gleefully. However, I haven’t seen the first cease and desist letter from the McCain camp, and if ever there was cause, this ad was it:

So are we talking about 1st amendment rights here, with the Obama legal team attempting to use Chicago strong arm tactics to filter what we see? Or are we talking about a candidate who is desperately trying to maintain a false persona to voters in order to be elected to the highest office in the land that he will use any means to get there?

Is this yet another symptom of an underlying disease that has infected this election cycle? The main stream media has by and large swept anything with negative connotations against Barack Obama under the rug. But are they doing the American people a favor, or are they being used as a tool by members of the left wing sector that supports Barack Obama to manipulate and censor what we see and hear? And if that is what’s going on here, what does that say about Barack Obama?

I’ve no doubt Barack Obama “rubbed elbows” with anyone who could further his career in the 90’s. Some of those associates are harmless even though they’re powerful. For example, I don’t think Oprah Winfrey is anything but an amusement in the grand scheme of Obama’s campaign, but as was his habit he clung to the public support of a wealthy elitist to further his own needs.

He hasn’t always chosen so benignly, however, and now he is faced with charges he seemingly has no answers for. In desperation it would seem, he has taken the tactic that if you can’t beat them, send your lawyer after them. Being a lawyer himself, it’s not surprising he would take this tactic.

I think if the McCain camp really wants to go after Obama’s character, in fact, they could stop at “He’s a lawyer”. Well, maybe expand it just a little to let the folks know he was ACORN’S lawyer, and what does that say about his ethics? Not much.


Babs is a frequent commenter and contributing guest commentary author for YouDecide2008.com