Newspapers today are aflutter over decisions from CBS and NBC nine months ago to reject advertising from the United Church of Christ. It is a significant story, but what's particularly remarkable about the press coverage is how many papers filed original reports instead of picking up a wire service version. Perhaps it's because every town has a UCC congregation to give the "local angle" on the story.
The reason for the "ban," the networks said, was that they constitute "advocacy advertising." Wink, wink, nod, nodwe all know what the ads were really banned for, don't we? Most newspapers sure do:
"CBS and NBC [deemed] the 30-second commercial 'too controversial' because of its depiction of gay couples at a time when the Bush administration has called for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage," says the Des Moines Register.
"CBS and NBC refused to run a United Church of Christ ad promoting acceptance regardless of sexual orientation," says the Lawrence Journal-World.
"TV spot alludes to the acceptance of gays," says the deck of The Press-Enterprise's story.
The Boston Globe explains, "Two broadcast networks are refusing to air an ad from the United Church of Christ because the spot, intended to make the point that the Protestant denomination is welcoming, briefly shows two men who are holding hands being turned away from an unnamed church."
Here's the problem. These newspapers are only partly right. In its rejection letter to the denomination last March, CBS told the denomination, "Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups and the fact that the ...1