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Romney Campaign Will Not Withdraw Ad Featuring Brokaw Clip

As James Joyner noted this morning, NBC and Tom Brokaw have both objected to an anti-Gingrich ad put out by the Romney campaign that includes a clip of Tom Brokaw reporting on Newt Gingrich’s ethics issues while speaker. The Romney camp said this morning that they would not be withdrawing the ad:

Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney’s senior adviser, told reporters after a rally in Panama City, Fla., that the campaign has received NBC’s letter complaining about its recent ad featuring a 1997 broadcast but does not intend to take it down.

“We just received the letter. We are reviewing it. But we believe it falls within fair use,” Fehrnstrom said. “We didn’t take the entire broadcast, we just took the first 30 seconds of it.”

As a legal matter, my guess is that this would constitute “fair use” under applicable law so I don’t think that NBC really has much of  an argument here. Nonetheless I can understand why they don’t like the idea of their premier news personality for decades starring in a political ad.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Dean says:

    Doug, do you ever recall a network asking that a portion of their newscast not be used as part of a political ad? This has been going on for years and I think NBC might be treading new ground here.

    If they stop the use here, won’t they and all other networks have to take the same approach with all political ads or risk looking partisan?

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  2. John Peabody says:

    It’s true that it may be legal, but it’s true that this hasn’t been done very often. If Mitt’s group has opened the door, we may see more of these. On the other hand, this mostly works against Gringich because there is far more material from the past that is unknown to younger voters. But I suppose there might be reports of Santorum losing his last election, too. A new tool!

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  3. @Dean:

    Actually Dean, I can. It’s happened several times in the past couple years.

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  4. Dean says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I tried to find some examples, but did not have any luck. I know that musicians have been reluctant to allow politicians to use their music at campaign rallies, but could not recall examples of a network asking that a clip not be used in an ad, except when it was used out of context.

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  5. jd says:

    I can’t imagine anything better than our young voters getting a little history lesson. We certainly don’t want to repeat it.

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  6. It’s going to be hard for NBC to do anything about the ad from a legal perspective, given that they’re one of the parties who have been accepting payment to air the ad, and thus would not be able to request an injunction with clean hands.

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  7. michael reynolds says:

    I’m sure Romney will take the same position when we’re running that Laura Ingraham interview over and over and over. . .

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  8. Scott says:

    Why not air the truth so younger voters will hear what Tom once said about egomaniacal Gingrich? It was one of those “how soon they forget” moments that needed to be aired.

    That’s been the trouble with those South Carolina voters who failed to grasp what a flawed candidate they were applauding, a man who got their vote of confidence for his quick wit and way with a sound bite. None of them seemed to have the whole picture on Newt or there would have been a different outcome leaning toward Mitt.

    It’s really hilarious to see Newt trying to attack Romney on character issues on the stump. After tomorrow it won’t matter. Romney is poised for a stunning victory in Florida no matter what Newt says or does in the interim.

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