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2003-07-23

GOP Warns TV Stations Not to Air Ad Alleging Bush Mislead the Nation Over Iraq

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Republican attorneys claim that it isn’t the Bush administration who is guilty of misleading the country but the Democrats for running an anti-Bush TV spot. Only one station has refused to run the ad, a Fox station.

Attorneys for the Republican Party are warning TV stations not to air a new commercial by the Democratic National Committee that charges President Bush misled the country in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. The video shows Bush saying, "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Republicans said the ad is "deliberately false and misleading" because the ad omits the portion of Bush’s statement where he points out that the disputed information came from the British government.

A letter from Republican counsel to TV stations in Wisconsin reads in part, "The Democratic National Committee certainly has a legitimate First Amendment right to participate in political debate, but it has no right to willfully spread false information in a deliberate attempt to mislead the American people… as an FCC licensee you have the responsibility to exercise independent editorial judgment to not only oversee and protect the American marketplace of ideas, essential for the health of our democracy, but also to avoid deliberate misrepresentations of the facts."

The letter concludes: "Such obligations must be taken seriously. This letter puts you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading; therefore, you are obligated to refrain from airing this advertisement."

A message on the DNC website now reads: "This is the ad President Bush doesn’t want you to see."

TRANSCRIPT

As we turn now to our last segment, attorneys for the Republican party are warning TV stations not to air a new commercial by the Democratic National Committee that charges President Bush misled the country in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. We are going to hear a bit of that ad right now which begins with the sound of typing and the statement written across the ad; In his State of the Union address, George W. Bush told us of an imminent threat.

TAPE:

GEORGE BUSH: Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: The ad goes on to say America took him at his word but now we find out that it wasn’t true. A year earlier, that claim was already proven to be false: the C.I.A. knew it, "New York times" July 7, the state department knew it, NY Times: July 6, The White House knew it, NBC news: July 26, but he told us anyway, the ad says. And then it goes on to repeat the quote. TAPE:

GEORGE BUSH: Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: Then the ad types out, It’s time to tell the truth — help hold George W. Bush accountable by calling for an independent bipartisan investigation, and it says to go to www.democrats.org/truth to sign the petition and make your voice heard because America deserves the truth. So that’s the ad.

The video—Republicans are saying the ad is, deliberately false and misleading, not because it states what George Bush said, but that it says that he pointed out that the disputed information came from the British government and that the ad does not point that out. We’re joined on the letter — on the phone right now by Terry McAuliffe, chair of the Democratic National Committee. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

TERRY MCAULIFFE: Amy, good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. What is your response? The Republicans say that they will sue any TV station that runs this ad. They sent a letter to a TV station in Wisconsin.

TERRY MCAULIFFE: Right. Well, the stations don’t think much of it, Amy. They all decided to run the ad except for, as shocking as this may be, FOX news — they’re the only station deciding not to run it. So I guess they do decide what they want to put on their TV. The issue is George Bush’s words — it’s not like we used an actor and put words — these are George Bush’s actual words in the State of the Union. They like to say, well, you didn’t mention the British intelligence. Here’s the whole issue — the British intelligence had supplied intelligence to our intelligence. Our intelligence, the United States of America, said these words were incorrect. The State Department knew it, the C.I.A. knew it. Our President should rely on our intelligence and when he knows our intelligence is saying that it’s not true, another foreign intelligence is saying it is true, you always rely on your own intelligence. We know what they wanted to do, Amy, they wanted to puff this up. They wanted to make the strongest case. They wanted to scare Americans to make them believe Saddam Hussein was processing nuclear rods to scare the American public. We know exactly what they were trying to do. It was misleading, not the truth, they deliberately did it. They should be held accountable. All we’re asking for is an independent, bipartisan commission.

AMY GOODMAN: The letter says — The Democratic National Committee certainly has a legitimate First Amendment right to participate in political debate, but has no right to willfully spread false information in a deliberate attempt to mislead the American people. As an F.C.C. licensee, you have the responsibility to exercise independent, editorial judgment, not only oversee and protect the American marketplace of ideas, essential for the health of our democracy, but also to avoid deliberate misrepresentations of the facts. The letter concludes: Such obligations must be taken seriously. This letter puts you on notice that the information contained in the above cited advertisement is false and misleading. Therefore you’re obligated to refrain from airing this advertisement. I was wondering if the false and misleading part was what Bush said, that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Niger, or what the ad went on to say?

TERRY MCAULIFFE: I think they chose a poor choice of words by using the word misled in their letter. Cause that’s what we’re alleging, that George Bush has misled the American public. And as I said, the advertisements are up and running. We’re going to continue to do these ads. We had, Amy, 80,000 people come to the Democratic web site, democrats.org, to sign a petition. Thousands more every day are signing a petition. They wanted an independent bipartisan commission. We know what George Bush did. He did not tell the truth. There was deliberate attempt to shade the truth in what he said in the State of the Union. Listen, the State of the Union is the Super Bowl of political speeches. Millions — no, more people watch this than any other political event, they watch the State of the Union. George Bush went up there and misled the American people, he misled the world, to justify his use of troops over in Iraq. We have troops there now. We support them 100%. But, we now have a serious nuclear crisis in North Korea and Iran. Now, when the President speaks about those two countries, can we believe him now? And people around the world, as you know most countries have now turned against us, which is very unfortunate. We built great relationships in over 100 years of our country. Now they’re going to look at us and say is he telling the truth or is he just manipulating the words to justify doing some further action.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Terry McAuliffe, I want to thank you for being with us, Chair of the DNC. Of course we called the Republican National Committee, they said there was no one available to justify their attack on the Wisconsin station that is running the ad.


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