CBS, NBC (Rightly) Reject “Ground Zero” Mosque Ad

CBS and NBC are refusing to air an ad against the building of a Muslim cultural center that some are, incorrectly, calling simply a mosque in downtown Manhattan:

CBS and NBC have refused to air a provocative ad from the confrontational, well-funded National Republican Trust PAC that calls on Americans to oppose the building of a mosque two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

The ad — which has about 100,000 views on YouTube — intersperses some of the most horrifying images from the Sept. 11 attacks with the sounds of Muslim prayer and images of Muslim militants. It focuses on what’s become a divisive — and partisan — issue in New York state, the erection of a Muslim cultural center on Park Place, in the neighborhood near the fallen towers.

“On Sept. 11, they declared war against us,” the ad’s narrator says. “And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at ground zero.”

In her letter rejecting the spot, NBC Universal advertising standards manager Jennifer Riley wrote:

“An ad questioning the wisdom of building a mosque at ground zero would meet our issues of public controversy advertising criteria. However, this ad which ambiguously defines ‘they’ as referenced in the spot makes it unclear as to whether the reference is to terrorists or to the Islamic religious organization that is sponsoring the building of the mosque. Consequently, the ad is not acceptable under our guidelines for broadcast.”

The ad, which alternates between various images of the September 11th attacks and other acts of terrorism and refers to both the terrorists and the people building the center as “they” is below:

As a matter of law, of course, the networks are perfectly within their rights to reject any ad for any reason — with certain legal limitations that require them to accept ads from political candidates — but in this particular case I think the decision was entirely appropriate. The campaign against this center, Mosque, or whatever you want to call it has been tinged with anti-Muslim rhetoric from the beginning and this ad plays that bigotry to the hilt. It’s not even accurate to call this a “Ground Zero” mosque, of course, because the building in question is several blocks away from site of the former World Trade Center.

From my perspective, the answer to the question about whether or not the mosque should be built is simple — Do they own the property ? If they do, they should be free to do whatever they wish with it.

Too bad the right’s adherence to property rights is so selective.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.