CNN labeled the Trump 2020 campaign ad right away as racist, but now after several days of backlash over the 30-second spot, a bunch of other media outlets — even Fox News — are pulling it.
Just a day before Americans vote in an election described as a referendum on President Trump’s agenda, Fox News, NBCUniversal, and Facebook said they planned to remove the anti-immigrant-themed ad from their programming and websites.
During a brief gaggle with reporters Monday before heading to the Midwest for a final round of rallies before the midterms, Trump shrugged off criticism over the ad, which was released Oct. 31. “I don’t know about it,” Trump said. “A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of times.”
The ad was almost immediately condemned for its dehumanizing portrayal of the migrant caravan making its way to the Southern border. It begins with courtroom footage of an undocumented immigrant who was sentenced to death earlier this year for killing two police officers in California back in 2014. Video of Bracamontes fades into scenes of the “caravan,” which is made up of thousands of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
“America cannot allow this invasion. The migrant caravan must be stopped,” the ad states. “President Trump and his allies will protect our border and keep our families safe.”
Trump has repeatedly referred to the migrants as dangerous criminals in comments and tweets over the past few weeks.
CNN rejected the ad upfront. “When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined,” CNN said in a statement Saturday. “CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist.” The president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. responded to CNN’s decision on Twitter. “I guess they only run fake news and won’t talk about real threats that don’t suit their agenda,” Trump Jr. wrote.
NBC ran the spot during the Packers-vs.-Patriots NFL game Sunday evening, which had an average audience of around 21 million. It also ran during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” segment Monday morning.
But after the intense backlash from both sides of the aisle — Democrats and some Republicans, including GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, had earlier slammed the ad, calling it "divisive," "sickening," and "vile" — NBCUniversal decided to take it off the air.
“After further review, we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.
Fox News, a favorite news source for Trump, said that it decided to take down the ad on Sunday. "Upon further review, FOX News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either FOX News Channel or FOX Business Network," ad sales president Marianne Gambelli told CNN’s Brian Stelter.
According to the Daily Beast, Facebook also moved to take down the ad from its site, saying that its “sensational content” violated the company’s advertising policy. “While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution,” Facebook told the Beast.
Brad Parscale, who is running Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, put out an angry statement on Twitter but failed to include Fox News in the list of companies pulling the ad.
“So, @NBCNews @CNN @facebook have chosen to stand with those ILLEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY. Instead of standing with LEGAL IMMIGRANTS and those that follow our laws,” Parscale wrote. “The #FakeNewsMedia and #PaloAltoMafia are trying to control what you see and how you think. STOP THE CARAVAN!”
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