NBC, Fox and Facebook stop running Trump caravan election ad criticized as 'racist'
Days before the midterm election, President Trump is fear-mongering about immigration, describing a migrant caravan in Mexico as an "invasion of our country." The estimated size of the caravan varies from 3,500 to 7,000, and is hundreds of miles away from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. It is believed that most of the migrants are from Honduras, yet Trump has claimed, without evidence, that there are "unknown Middle Easterners." Many of them say are seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing gang violence and economic hardship in their countries. Yet Trump has claimed, without evidence, that they are "criminals." Trump ordered more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the border to combat this perceived threat.
President Trump's campaign committee created a controversial campaign ad that attempts to link Democrats and the migrant caravan with convicted murderer Lucio Bracamontes. Bracamontes, a twice-deported undocumented Mexican immigrant, murdered two Sacramento sheriff’s deputies in 2014, and was sentenced to death. In the courtroom, the grinning cop killer showed no remorse. "I killed f***ing cops," bragged Bracamontes. "I don't f**king regret that... I will break out soon and I will kill more." Bracamontes is not known to have any connection with the approaching migrant caravan.
On Twitter, Trump shared a 50-second version of the outrageous ad, which has 6.46 million views. The video features Bracamontes' chilling quotes, then ominously states "Democrats let him into the country... Democrats let him stay... Who else would Democrats let in?" (In reality, Bracamontes was deported under the Clinton administration and the Bush administration.) Many people denounced the ad for its false, inflammatory statements, attempting to ignite viewers with xenophobic panic.
CNN declined to air the ad, tweeting,“CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist. When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined." However, NBC broadcast a 30-second version of the ad during Sunday Night Football, where it reached an audience of millions. The truncated version did not include the false claims about Democrats, but still attempted to connect crime with immigrants, playing on people's irrational fears to motivate them to vote. The aid aired once during during the Packers-Patriots game and three times on MSNBC.
Reportedly NBCUniversal’s standards and practices department reviewed the ad and approved for it for air. After the outcry, NBCUniversal pulled the ad, tweeting, "After further review we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible." The network's guidelines regarding "controversial issue advertising" are available to read online. NBCUniversal states that “advertisements generally will be accepted if there is a basis for the claims and such claims fall within the bounds of reasonable debate." The network has the right to reject an ad if it is deemed "grossly offensive (e.g., on racial, religious or ethnic grounds)."
Fox News, which is frequently criticized for being biased toward President Trump, also decided to stop running the ad. One of the anchors, Shephard Smith, even broke from the majority of his co-workers opinions, declaring the hysteria about the migrant caravan to be baseless. "There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you," said Smith. "There is nothing at all to worry about."
Facebook also announced it was removing the commercial. The social media company stated, "This ad violates Facebook's advertising policy against sensational content so we are rejecting it. While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution." The Trump campaign had been using the ad to target voters in battleground states like Florida and Arizona.
Today President Trump spoke to reporters about the controversy, saying "You’re telling me something I don’t know about. We have a lot of ads and they certainly are effective, based on the numbers that we’re seeing." When asked about the complaints over the commercial, he said, "A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of time, so, you know."