Ted Cruz‘s presidential campaign sent a letter to local stations in South Carolina and parts of Georgia asking them to pull an ad attacking its candidate.
The Republican Presidential candidate’s campaign wants the ad, paid for by Super PAC American Future Fund, pulled “immediately,” because it “disseminate[s] a false and misleading advertisement lying about Senator Ted Cruz’s record.”
“The ad falsely claims ‘Cruz proposed mass legalization of illegal immigrants,” says the letter posted to Cruz’s campaign website. “Ted Cruz has never introduced, outlined, or supported any policy that would give legal status to illegal immigrants.”
Politico reports the “American Future Fund has spent heavily against Cruz in Iowa and in South Carolina, painting the senator in the latest spot as soft on immigration enforcement and ‘weak’ on national security, including by tying him to Bernie Sanders and President Barack Obama.”
Cruz’s letter also says stations are bound by their FCC licenses “to avoid deliberate misrepresentations and intentional falsehoods” and goes on to say “Your failure, as an FCC licensee, to fulfill this obligation, may be deemed an ‘underlying abdication’ of your duties as such a licensee and result in the loss of your station’s license.”
Here’s the full text of the letter:
Dear Station Manager:
On behalf of Cruz for President, I write this letter to inform you that, based upon available information, American Future Fund has purchased media time to publicly disseminate a false and misleading advertisement lying about Senator Ted Cruz’s record.
The ad falsely claims “Cruz proposed mass legalization of illegal immigrants.” Ted Cruz has never introduced, outlined, or supported any policy that would give legal status to illegal immigrants. Indeed, quite the opposite, Ted Cruz led the fight in Congress against legislation written by Senator Rubio, among others, that created legal permanent status for millions of people in the country unlawfully. At least two fact-checks have evaluated this claim and determined it to be false, and others found no evidence to support it.”
Because this advertisement makes a flatly false factual claim for which your station is ultimately liable, we strongly urge you to exercise your discretion as a licensee to refuse to continue to broadcast this advertisement, and, because it is already airing, immediately pull the advertisement from your rotation.
As an FCC licensee you have the legal responsibility to exercise independent editorial judgment and discretion to oversee and protect the marketplace of ideas, but also to avoid deliberate misrepresentations and intentional falsehoods. Political Programming Policies, 7 FCC Rcd 678, 685 n.54 (1991)(“licensees are not required to accept any political material that is not authorized by candidates”). Such obligations must be taken seriously because courts command broadcasters to “protect the public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising.” Licensee Responsibility with Respect to the Broadcast of False, Misleading or Deceptive Advertising, 74 FCC 2d 623 (1961). Your failure, as an FCC licensee, to fulfill this obligation, may be deemed an “underlying abdication” of your duties as such a licensee and result in the loss of your station’s license. Cosmopolitan Broadcasting Corp. v. FCC, 581 F.2d 917, 927 (D.C. Cir. 1978). With this letter, Cruz for President reserves all rights, remedies and recourse to which we are entitled in connection with the potential or actual broadcast of the advertisement referenced herein, and that no action or inaction by Cruz for President shall be deemed to constitute a waiver, relinquishment or other impairment of such rights, remedies or recourse.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions.
Eric S. Brown
Cruz for President