Local TV stations run controversial political ad

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Local TV stations are running political ads that include the phrase “Let’s go Brandon,” a euphemism for a slur against President Biden. We talked to First Amendment attorney Dan Barr of the law firm Perkins Coie about the free speech rights regarding this ad.

What does “let’s go Brandon” mean?

Dan Barr: “My understanding is that it came about from a NASCAR broadcast where people were chanting some obscenity about the President of the United States in the crowd, and the ESPN announcer said “oh they’re chanting ‘let’s go Brandon'” and from there it took off virally from that.”

Is the campaign commercial legal?

Dan Barr “Yes. It’s legal because television stations may not censor candidate ads … unless it is legally obscene or it has things in it that other violate FCC rules.”

Could the station refuse to run the ad?

Dan Barr “They can’t refuse to run it … your complaint is with the candidate not with the station. The station can’t do anything about it. But you can do something about it. Supporting some other candidate or doing things to oppose that candidate.”

If the ad had contained a different story, such as what the protesters were actually saying at the rally, the television station may have refused to run it, said Barr. The station is not responsible for candidate ads but may be responsible for some things said in third party ads.

Correct me if I am wrong, but you cant bury these ads at two or three o’clock in the morning? You have to have some sort of reasonable assurance that they are going to be seen.

Dan Barr: “Correct. For any sort of candidate ads, they can buy time whenever they want during the day … its reasonable access.”

Dan Barr, Perkins Coie law firm

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