Trump Campaign Threatens FCC Could Pull Stations’ Licenses Over Anti-Trump Ad
President Donald Trump’s official super PAC, America First Action, has demanded that television stations in key battleground states cease airing an anti-Trump ad that it claims is misleading — and the group’s attorneys threatened in a letter that the Federal Communications Commission could go so far as to pull their licenses over the issue.
The ad, produced by Priorities USA and called “Exponential Threat,” uses Trump’s own words to show how the president downplayed the coronavirus threat in the early weeks of the pandemic.
The New Civil Rights Movement laid out portions of the ad, which include Trump saying:
“The coronavirus ... This is their new hoax.”
“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”
“One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
“When you have 15 people and within a couple of days is gonna be down to close to zero.”
“We really think we’ve done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum.”
“I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand.”
“No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”
But America First says the ad’s claims are false and that the president never called the virus a “hoax.”
“Priorities USA’s doctored footage is not only deceptive and misleading, but false,” the attorneys wrote. “On behalf of our client, America First Policies, Inc., we formally demand that your station refuse to air this advertisement.”
But the attorneys did not stop there. They also mentioned the FCC and that stations airing the ad could face losing their licenses over the issue.
The letter to stations says, in part: “your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing [the ad] immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements, to serve the public interest, and to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation.”
It continues: “we formally demand that your station refuse to continue airing it to meet your responsibilities not to broadcast false information.”
Given that Trump has told more than 16,000 lies since taking office and continues to spread misinformation nearly daily during his coronavirus briefings, this is a particularly ironic demand from his super PAC’s attorneys.
Still, they continued: “your station has a responsibility to ‘protect the public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising' ... your failure to remove this deceptive ad … could put your station’s license in jeopardy.”
It is noteworthy that Trump himself appoints commissioners to the FCC, which would have the power to pull a station’s license.
But the station’s do not appear to be worried, according to Priorities USA, which is spending $6 million to run the ad.
The group said America First does not “even have standing to complain about our ads and stations are immediately rejecting their complaint and are continuing to run the spot.”
“We stand by the facts in the ad and will continue to make sure that Donald Trump is held accountable for his words and actions that are making this crisis even worse,” Priorities USA strategist Josh Schwerin said.