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Friday, October 10, 2008

Repower America? ABC Says They'd Rather Take Dirty Oil Money

ABC refused to run a Repower America ad from the We Campaign because it apparently threatened their cozy relationship with oil and coal companies and the dirty money they are throwing at corporate media for slick greenwashing ads. Here's the scoop...

If you're like me, you've been obsessively watching each of the presidential debates over the past weeks. If so, you must have noticed the ever-present oil and coal company ads proclaiming their commitment to overcoming today's pressing energy and ecological problems with new innovative solutions: aka, their dirty old products repackaged and resold as "clean" and "green."

CNN's debate coverage has been sponsored by a coal industry front group, and CBS has ExxonMobil fronting the bill. Perhaps the slickest of the ad campaigns, Chevron's "Human Energy" ads are playing everywhere, trying to imply that the oil company is really on your side in the effort to conserve energy - aka buy less of their product! As if!

In short, it seems like this year's presidential election is essentially "brought to you by your friends at ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and Peabody Coal."

To counter this flood of dirty oil money taking over the network and cable news channels, the We Campaign has been running Repower America ads, calling on America's leaders to truly repower our nation with 100% clean energy. The Repower America ads are running on several networks, including CBS, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, and MSNBC... but not on ABC!

ABC, the only network to reject the ad, had no problem running any of the oil and coal industry spots during their debate coverage. But when the We Campaign wanted to buy an ad slot during ABC's news magazine, 20/20, the network flat out refused to air the ad!

Why would they turn down the We Campaign, which was offering to pay top dollar for prime airtime? Because the ad had this to say:

That's right, We's ad called the oil and coal companies out for spending gobs of cash - on ads, lobbyists and more - to block efforts to truly Repower America, and ABC apparently couldn't run an ad questioning their main cash cow! That'd just be bad business, I guess.

ABC had a bogus official excuse, of course (republished here courtesy of We via the Wonk Room):

Per our Guidelines, national buildings may be used in advertising provided the depictions are incidental to the advertiser’s promotion of the product or service. Given the messages and themes of this commercial, the image of the Capital building is not incidental to this advertising. Please replace the image with one that is not of another national building or monument. Thank you.
Here's the offending image, on screen for just about one second:

Right, the offensive part of this image was that it depicted the Capitol Building, not that it called out one of ABC's biggest sources of dirty dirty cash... sure... And an ad about oil companies spending gobs of cash on lobbyists to block federal legislation has nothing to do with the Capitol Building... Good excuse ABC!

The We Campaign quickly sent out a letter to it's 1.6 million members saying:
I sent a letter asking ABC to reconsider their decision and put our ad on the air, but still we haven’t heard back more than a week later. I think they need to hear from all of us. Can you help? Please send a message to ABC and tell them to air the Repower America ad this Friday on 20/20. Just click here:

We’re working to get 100,000 public comments to ABC before 20/20’s next airing.

Our Repower America ad has a clear and simple message — that massive spending by oil and coal companies on advertising is a key reason our nation hasn’t switched to clean and renewable sources for our energy.
The petition already has over 173,000 signatures and counting. So head on over to and tell ABC that if they're going to take dirty oil company money, they'd better take some dirty environmentalist money as well, and run the darned ad!

Kate Sheppard at Grist has more muckraking on ABC's indefensible decision to block the Repower America ads...

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