ACLU Runs First Paid TV Ad

NEW YORK — The ACLU has created its first paid TV ad, which breaks today. The spot, created by Zimmerman + Markman in Santa Monica, Calif., a political-consulting and advertising firm, features a copy of the Constitution being written over and cut up. “Look what John Ashcroft is doing to our constitution,” a voiceover states. “He’s seized powers for the Bush administration no president should ever have.”

The ACLU spent about $1 million on the campaign, which is running Oct. 16-20 on cable channels such as A&E, CNN and the Learning Channel in cities including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C. It will also run during Sunday morning news talk shows on the ABC, CBS and NBC networks in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, San Francisco and Seattle.

The ad is not running on New York ABC, NBC, and CBS stations, which refused to run the ads, according to the ACLU.

“We did turn down the ad, based on station policy on issue advertising,” a representative for WNBC in New York said. “We prefer to handle certain issues in our news and public-affairs programming.”

WABC and WCBS could not immediately be reached.

The ad is part of a $3.5 million effort to publicize what the ACLU and its regional affiliates perceive as violations of civil rights by John Ashcroft and the Bush administration. The effort also includes grassroots organizing and legislative lobbying. More ads are anticipated.