|Actor Fred Thompson's new pro-war ad.|
|Actor Martin Sheen's anti-war ad.
BATTLE RAGES OVER ANTI-WAR TV COMMERCIALS
Citizen Groups Allege Censorship; Networks Cite Established Policies
FCC CHAIRMAN HO-HUMS ANTI-WAR AD CONTROVERSY
Group Charges Media Consolidation Facilitated Censorship
Mr. Thompson, a Republican who represented Tennessee for two terms before returning to acting as part of the cast of NBC's Law & Order, will appear in a 30-second spot from Citizens United that began airing Sunday in Washington, D.C., and on Washington cable.
'Murderous and aggressive enemy'
In the spot, which was produced by National Media's Alex Castellanos, Mr. Thompson asks, "What should we do with the inevitable prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of a murderous and aggressive enemy? ... Kick the can down the road? Thank goodness we have a president with the courage to protect our country. And when people ask 'What has Saddam done to us?' I ask, 'What had the 9/11 hijackers done to us before 9/11?'"
Citizens United President David N. Bossie said the spot resulted from a dinner conversation Feb. 21 he had with Mr. Castellanos and Mr. Thompson about the spate of anti-war messages coming from a coalition called Win Without War, which feature actors including Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon and advocate the U.N. inspections process be allowed to run its full course before the U.S. goes to war with Iraq.
"We were having dinner and talking about all these liberals' anti-war movement spots take hold, and no pro Bush policy or agenda being heard," Mr. Bossie said. "Fred agreed to appear and by Monday, Alex had a script and the spot was done by Wednesday."
While Citizens United has so far bought only a few days of ads -- with most to air on Washington, D.C., cable -- the hope is to expand the buy to six markets and to match the anti-war group's estimated $400,000 in spending.
Anti-war groups have complained their spots were sometimes rejected or pulled by cable companies. Mr. Bossie said his spot was rejected by the NBC affiliate in Washington, WRC-TV, for airing on Meet the Press but ran on the local Fox affiliate's broadcast of Fox News Sunday.
A WRC-TV spokeswoman said the issue was "best handled in a balanced manner" in news programming. Ads will also run on Comcast's Washington-area cable, which accepted the Susan Sarandon spot but rejected another anti-war spot. Win Without War did not return calls.