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CBS Runs Controversial Public Policy Ads, Rejects Legit Ones

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CBS claims they won’t run an ad by because they have a policy against running ads on controversial public policy issues. But this is simply not true. Time and again CBS has allowed corporation to whitewash their record on extremely controversial policy issues. The facts reveal that the decision to reject the advertisement was based on politics, not on principle.

Pfizer Inc=

Last Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation Pfizer was permitted to run an ad in which they declared “Pfizer is helping people in need get the medicines they need.” The statement came just weeks after Pfizer successfully lobbied to weaken the new Medicare bill so that it does not significantly lower drug prices. Additionally, Pfizer’s other actions further belie their ad. The facts:

  • CONTROVERSIAL: “Pfizer Inc.’s surprise cancellation Tuesday of its anti-AIDS generic drug plan for poor countries called attention to the number of other pharmaceutical companies that are contributing actively to the international effort with below-market drugs, money and other assistance.” [Chicago Tribune, 11/13/03]
  • CONTROVERSIAL: The Brazilian government said today that it will declare AIDS a “national emergency.” The government made the decision after its negotiations to lower the price of nelfinavir, an AIDS drug now made by Hoffman-La Roche Inc. and marketed in conjunction with the U.S.-based Pfizer, broke down two weeks ago. [Washington Post, 08/23/01]


Wal-Mart regularly airs ads on CBS touting itself as a good corporate citizen. Yet, Wal-Mart’s corporate conduct is undoubtedly a “controversial public policy issue.” In the last two years Wal-Mart’s behavior has been front page news in the New York Times on three separate occasions. The facts:

  • CONTROVERSAL: “40 other current and former Wal-Mart workers interviewed over the last four months say Wal-Mart [was] forcing or pressuring employees to work hours that were not recorded or paid.” [source]
  • CONTROVERSAL: “Hundreds of illegal immigrants worked at its stores, and its subcontractors appear to have violated overtime, Social Security and workers’ compensation laws.” [source]
  • CONTROVERSAL: “For more than 15 years, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, has locked in overnight employees at some of its Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores.” [source]

Philip Morris USA

During the Super Bowl, CBS will air an “anti-smoking” ad by cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris USA. These ads encourage citizens to go to for information about smoking. But on that site Philip Morris advances a number of extraordinarily controversial policy positions on smoking related issues. Some highlights:

  • CONTROVERSAL: “Balancing federal, state and local budgets by raising cigarette excise taxes excessively is bad fiscal policy.” [source]
  • CONTROVERSAL: “Business owners should have some flexibility in deciding how best to address the preferences of non-smokers and smokers.” [source]
  • CONTROVERSAL: “Cigarettes should be regulated as cigarettes, not as a food, or, as FDA attempted to do in 1996, as a medical device.” [source]

The ad rejected by CBS focuses on the impact of the federal deficit on children. The ad simply says that the President is responsible for the deficit and that the nation’s children will have to pay for it. There is nothing controversial about this assertion.

The Facts:

  • UNCONTROVERSIAL: The President’s own budget documents prove the charge made in Moveon’s ad that the deficit – and additional debt – is primarily due to the President’s own policies. “Table S-3 of the President’s own budget indicates that implementing the Administration’s budget would greatly increase the deficits in 2003-2005 and obliterate the projected surpluses in 2006-2008.” And while the White House says its tax cuts will spur the economy and that will fix the deficit, Table S-3 also shows this theory “is completely wrong.” [National Journal, 2/11/03]
  • UNCONTROVERSIAL: Simple math shows that the multi-trillion-dollar national debt will have to be paid for by America’s children, as asserted in Moveon’s ads. When the President took office, our projected deficit in 2008 was about $500 per family. Now it is predicted to be $84,600 per family. [source]

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