October 28, 2006  ·  Lessig

There’s a storm raging about NBC’s refusal to run ads for the Dixie Chicks’ new movie, Shut Up and Sing. As the Washington Post reports, NBC told the ad agency, the network would not run the ads because “they are disparaging of President Bush.”

This is nothing new for NBC. In August, 2004, I wrote about an attempt by filmmaker Robert Greenwald to license a 1 minute clip from Meet the Press, in which the President explained his reasons for going to war. Greenwald was denied the permission, his agent told they could not use it because the clip was “not very flattering to the president.”

At that time, a lawyer from NBC protested to me that what I had written was not true. I asked how he knew that. I had interviewed the woman who had spoken to the NBC permissions person. I had known her independently of this incident. I knew her to be an honest person. So how did he know she was lying?

Because she must be lying, I was told. NBC would never do anything like this.

Right. Never. Except at least twice.

  • http://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/blog/blogView James Robertson

    You must have missed this from:


    NBC/CW denies this saying, “The spot was not declined. In fact, we were told they were not going to make a national spot buy on CW.”

    If you think NBC is “afraid to disparage the president”, then you clearly don’t ever see or hear Olberman.

  • James Day

    Personally, I’m curious whether someone who asks C-SPAN for their full, unedited, east coast coverage of GWB’s first post-election inaugural balls will actually get it all, including the reason why the subsequent DOJ statue giggling episode happened and the administration was sensitive to Superbowl breast baring on stage in public later on.

  • Daniela

    One day we’ll look back on this whole issue and be awed at how much our press was able to get away with. It’s McCarthyism all over again, only worse.

  • http://www.micrographics.ltd.uk Lee M

    Its a sad day for democracy and freedom of speech when “unflattering” media can be manipulated by the president.

  • michael d. morrison

    nbc is a common carrier and is subject to the telecommunications act of 1996 ( http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Common_Carrier/News_Releases/1996/nrcc6014.txt )( http://www.fcc.com/telecom ), so why are they saying that anything is “unflattering to the president”? and who is nbc to determine this? does the media in the united states hire political commissars to guide them to the light?

  • http://politicalcritic.com PoliticalCritic

    So much for freedom of speech. That movie trailer has nothing in it that warrants a ban. NBC will play GOP smear ads, but they won’t play a harmless ad about a documentary? Sad.

  • http://www.larrylinkler.blogspot.com Shelly

    Now, now – NBC isn’t any worse than ABC, CBS, or FOX. And NBC is better than Al Jazeera. Come on, at least give me that..?