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Brokaw, NBC Threaten Legal Action Against Romney Camp For Using Clip In Ad

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Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw is featured prominently in a new ad from the Romney campaign focusing on Newt Gingrich’s House ethics violation in the mid-1990s. The ad, entitled “History Lesson,” is a 30 second excerpt from NBC Nightly News the day Gingrich was found guilty by House Democrats and Republicans in an ethics investigation.

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In an unprecedented move, lawyers for NBC News have demanded that the Romney camp remove the ad. In a statement, Brokaw himself writes:

“I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad. I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.”

Really, Tom? Big concerns over your “role as a journalist compromised for political gain”? Take another look at that video and listen to the condescending, judgmental way the Gingrich story was framed by Brokaw back in 1997. He and his teleprompter feeders went out of their way at the time to make Gingrich appear to be the biggest hypocrite and crook in American political history. Check out the way the ethics committee’s wrist slap was framed:

“Newt Gingrich, who came to power, after all, preaching a higher standard in American politics, a man who brought down another Speaker on ethics accusations, tonight he has on his own record the judgment of his peers, Democrat and Republican alike.”

If snark smelled like apple pie, you’d be sure you were at grandma’s house on Thanksgiving after watching this example of Brokaw’s “role as a journalist.”

It’s the height of hypocrisy for NBC News and Brokaw to be concerned about Brokaw’s utterances being used for political purposes, considering his long history of biased reporting over his long career. Perhaps NBC’s lawyers should have shown concern over these statements made by Brokaw as compiled by our friends at Media Research Center:

• “I thought from the outset that his supply-side theory was just a disaster. I knew of no one who felt it was going to work.” (Mother Jones interview, April 1983 issue)

• “We wanted everything but the pain of paying for it….In a decade [the] deficit more than tripled. How? Ronald Reagan ran for President promising Americans more while asking for less: the Reagan Revolution.” (October 5, 1990)

• “Reagan, as commander-in-chief, was the military’s best friend. He gave the Pentagon almost everything it wanted. That spending, combined with a broad tax cut, contributed to a trillion-dollar deficit….Social programs? They suffered under Reagan. But he refused to see the cause and effect.” (Over video of homeless people on December 27, 1989 NBC News special The Eighties)

• “You’re opposed to abortion in any form. You also have opposed the E.R.A., and you’re opposed to increasing the minimum wage, which is important to a lot of women out there. Aren’t you going to have a hard time selling Dan Quayle to the women of this country?” (To Quayle, August 17, 1988 convention coverage)

• “A lot of people said, ‘Just too much red meat there [in the speech].’ You gave the impression that if you’re not a white, heterosexual, Christian, anti-abortion, anti-environment, you’re somehow not welcome in the Republican Party.” (To Pat Buchanan, August 18, 1992 convention coverage)

• “There are many people in the Republican Party who believe that the Republican National Convention in Houston, at which you were a prominent part, was simply too extreme, too strident in its positions, and they cite your speech and Pat Buchanan’s speech as well.” (To Pat Robertson on election night, November 4, 1992)

• “Is the Republican Party held hostage, in your judgment, Christie Whitman, by its views on abortion? So that people like you, who believe that there ought to be some choice, can never be considered for Vice President?” (To Whitman during MSNBC’s convention coverage, August 2, 2000)

• “Colin Powell, the most influential African-American in the Republican Party, will be talking to these delegates, reminding them that they have to think about minorities every day, not just every four years.” (Convention coverage July 31, 2000)

• “Medicare, the health care program that has been a godsend to the elderly in this country, even with all its financial difficulties. Tonight, the President wants to dramatically expand its coverage to millions more.” (January 6, 1998)

• “And when the public phase of those hearings ended today with the testimony of Secretary Weinberger, we were left with an astonishing record of deceit, ignorance, naivete, good or bad intentions, failed policies, and discredited public servants, and this story is not yet complete.” (On Iran-Contra hearings, August 3, 1987)

• “Still ahead tonight. Investigating the President. A growing backlash against independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Is he out of bounds or just tone deaf?” (February 16, 1998)

• “We begin tonight with U.S. Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon, a man who championed women’s rights on the floor of the Senate and sexually terrorized members of his own staff.” (September 7, 1995)

• “Do you think the press has been too fascinated with other ancillary issues…like Whitewater and Paula Jones?” (To Tim Russert after a Clinton press conference, November 9, 1994)

• “Beyond the tedium of the day to day campaigning, there’s another much more alarming development this year — money. Huge amounts of money pouring into both parties, raising very serious questions about influence and conflict of interest.” (October 29, 1996)

• “For all the rhetoric and the outrage about what happened in the ’96 campaign, a bill that would overhaul the system was all but killed off today in a partisan battle.” (October 7, 1997)

• “The Republicans were outraged by the fundraising practices of the President and the Democratic National Committee — but not so outraged that they felt the need for campaign finance reform.” (In a New York Times column, February 7, 1998)

The Romney campaign, to their credit, has responded to the NBC intimidation tactic by maintaining that the footage in the advertisement falls under “fair use” provisions in federal copyright laws and they will not be acquiescing to the network’s demand.


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