The refusal by ABC and NBC to run a national ad critical of President Obama's health care reform plan is raising questions from the group behind the spot -- particularly in light of ABC's health care special aired in prime time last June and hosted at the White House.
The 33-second ad by the League of American Voters, which features a neurosurgeon who warns that a government-run health care system will lead to the rationing of procedures and medicine, began airing two weeks ago on local affiliates of ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. On a national level, however, ABC and NBC have refused to run the spot in its present form.
"It's a powerful ad," said Bob Adams, executive director of the League of American Voters, a national nonprofit group with 15,000 members who advocate individual liberty and government accountability. "It tells the truth and it really highlights one of the biggest vulnerabilities and problems with this proposed legislation, which is it rations health care and disproportionately will decimate the quality of health care for seniors."
Adams said the advertisement is running on local network affiliates in states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Maine and Pennsylvania. But although CBS has approved the ad for national distribution and talks are ongoing with FOX, NBC has questioned some of the ad's facts while ABC has labeled it "partisan."
"The ABC Television Network has a long-standing policy that we do not sell time for advertising that presents a partisan position on a controversial public issue," spokeswoman Susan Sewell said in a written statement. "Just to be clear, this is a policy for the entire network, not just ABC News."
NBC, meanwhile, said it has not turned down the ad and will reconsider it with some revisions.
"We have not rejected the ad," spokeswoman Liz Fischer told FOXNews.com. "We have communicated with the media agency about some factual claims that require additional substantiation. As always, we are happy to reconsider the ad once these issues are addressed."
Adams objects to ABC's assertion that his group's position is partisan.
"It's a position that we would argue a vast majority of Americans stand behind," he said. "Obviously, it's a message that ABC and the Obama administration haven't received yet."
Dick Morris, a FOX News political analyst and the League of American Voters' chief strategist, conceptualized the advertisement and said its purpose was to "refocus" the debate on health care reform.
"I feel the whole debate on health care reform needed to be refocused on the issue of Medicare," he told FOXNews.com. "Most of the debate had been on issues of socialized medicine and cost. I felt that the impact of the legislation in cutting the Medicare program and enforcing rationing needed to be addressed."
Morris, a onetime advisor to former President Bill Clinton, said he was particularly troubled by ABC's decision not to air the spot.
"It's the ultimate act of chutzpah because ABC is the network that turned itself over completely to Obama for a daylong propaganda fest about health care reform," he said. "For them to be pious and say they will not accept advertising on health care shuts their viewers out from any possible understanding of both sides of this issue."