The next best thing to having an advertisement run on TV is having its cancellation by scaredy-cat station managers turn into a news story, especially one that may last multiple days. Heck, if the stations refund your money for not running the ad, you may come out ahead this way.
Liberal groups Public Campaign Action Fund and Campaign for America's Future bought a week's worth of time slots for a commercial highlighting ethical questions about DeLay's close dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges last week and is cooperating with a federal investigation of his contacts with congressmen and their aides.
DeLay has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime in connection with the case.
DeLay attorney Don McGahn implied in a letter Tuesday that the stations would be legally responsible for airing falsehoods about DeLay if the ads ran as scheduled.
KTRK (Channel 13) decided Tuesday to withhold the ad. KPRC (Channel 2), KHOU (Channel 11) and KRIV (Channel 26), which provide local news programming, decided Wednesday against starting the commercials that day.
McGahn's letter served to "alert me that there may be inconsistencies in the ad," said KHOU President and General Manager Peter Diaz, but he would not specify what elements of the ad were inconsistent.
The other stations declined to discuss their decisions.
Dallas attorney Joe Chumlea, who has handled several libel and defamation cases, said McGahn likely would not have had a strong legal case against stations running the ad because the Supreme Court provides broadcasters with the highest level of protection when it comes to political ads.
Broadcasters can only be liable for damages if they air something that they know is false or recklessly ignore the fact that it could be, he said, but someone such as McGahn telling a broadcaster that an ad is false doesn't meet the standard.