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The Making of CBS's Pro-Life Ad

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Emit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 08:33 PM
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The Making of CBS's Pro-Life Ad
The Making of CBS's Pro-Life Ad


CBS's decision to air an anti-abortion ad during Sunday's Super Bowl has kicked off a contentious debate about the process through which the network vets advocacy advertisements, and has left pro-choice activists disagreeing on the best way to respond to this latest high-profile parry in the culture war, which reportedly cost Focus on the Family between $2.4 million and $2.8 million.


The major broadcast networks have avoided political advocacy ads for years, so CBS's decision to air the Tebow ad caught abortion rights advocates off guard. But Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group founded by Dr. James Dobson, says that it has actually been working closely with CBS executives for months on the ad's script.


CBS declined to comment on the details of its work with Focus on the Family on the Tebow ad, but said such cooperation is not unusual. Abortion rights advocates see it differently. If CBS did vet scripts for the ad, the cooperation is "appalling," said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. "If true, CBS is not just selling ad time for profit, but has been affirmatively working hand-in-glovein secretto promote Focus on the Family's agenda. When you recall that Focus on the Family wants to overturn Roe v. Wadethis revelation is extremely, extremely disturbing."


Groups like NOW and the Women's Media Center are asking CBS not to air the ad, and urging boycotts of the network. Some feminist movement veterans, though, disagree with that combative strategy. In the Sunday Washington Post, former Catholics for Choice president Frances Kissling and former NARAL president Kate Michelman wrote an op-ed arguing that with the percentage of Americans identifying as "pro-choice" in decline, women's groups should emulate Focus on the Family's media savvy. "Women's and choice groups responding to the Tebow ad should take a page from the Focus on the Family playbook," Kissling and Michelman wrote, suggesting the purchase of a competing 30-second ad.

O'Neill disagrees that an advertising war is the best response. "The fact is, if NOW had an extra $2.5 million lying around, I'd spend it on working for women's equality," she said. "I wouldn't give it to CBS."

... /

Via Email:

Dear Emit,

Have CBS's higher-ups been colluding all along with Focus on the Family?

You may have heard by now that CBS plans to air a 30-second ad by right-wing anti-abortion group Focus on the Family, starring football player Tim Tebow, during the Super Bowl. And it just got even worse...

Will you support us today so we can convince CBS to pull the ad?

There's rumor that CBS executives worked closely with Focus on the Family in crafting the ad's script. If this is true, they're not just making a buck at the expense of women's rights, but they're actually working behind the scenes to promote Focus on the Family's radical right wing agenda -- and make no mistake: that agenda includes overturning Roe v. Wade and making abortion "illegal and unthinkable." Please contribute today so we can fight for fairness in the media!

Focus on the Family's ad, yet to be released, allegedly features the story of Tebow's mother, who continued a risky pregnancy against her physician's recommendations. We celebrate the ability of all women to make their own decisions about health care, their families and their future -- whatever that decision might be. But Focus on the Family is using the over $2.5 million ad to shame those women who decide to terminate a pregnancy. And the possibility that executives at a major network participated in shaping this ad is simply appalling.

Support NOW's work to let CBS know that anti-abortion propaganda has no place in the Super Bowl or at major network offices.

The ad represents a sharp turn from CBS's usual policy against airing controversial ads during sports events. In 2004, CBS rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ welcoming LGBT parishioners citing its anti-advocacy policy.

Your contribution today says that you won't stand for CBS collaborating with Focus on the Family.

For justice and equality,

Terry O'Neill
NOW President

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