While no one tracks the number of legal notices broadcasters receive on political ads, station managers and lawyers say attempts to block ads are growing both in number and intensity, particularly in states with closely contested elections. "If you're these affiliates, you're under siege," says Michael Toner, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and now an attorney at Bryan Cave in Washington.Stevens isn't the only one sending in the lawyers. Barack Obama is sending in the suits over an ad being run by the NRA. Blogs on the right are painting it as an anti-First Amendment attempt to squelch criticism (round-up here).
Obviously it's a tactic used by both sides. In this case politicians stand a good chance of getting these ads pulled -- at least momentarily. As the Journal explains in the Stevens case, if the anti-Stevens ad had been run by his opponent in the race, the networks would be required to accept the ad. But because the ads are from third-party groups, the stations aren't required to run them.