CNN Sends Cease-and-Desist Letter to Trump Campaign Over New Ad
CNN is hopping mad over a new Trump campaign advertisement, and has fired off a letter demanding that it no longer be used.
The ad, titled “American Comeback” and released Sunday, highlights President Donald Trump’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
It features two snippets of dialogue from a March 30 airing of CNN’s “Situation Room.”
The ad shows CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asking, “Is it accurate that if these steps had not been put in place … it could have been 2 million people dead here in the United States?”
After the ad cuts to images of cancelled flights and an Air China plane, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, says, “Yes.”
CNN reported that the network had sent the Trump campaign a cease-and-desist letter demanding it stop running the ad, claiming the clip did not include the full conversation.
In the full exchange, Blitzer said, “Well, is it accurate that if these steps had not been put in place, the stay-at-home orders, the social distancing orders, as the president said yesterday, it could have been 2 million people dead here in the United States?”
Gupta then replied, “I mean, you know, these are all models, Wolf. It’s a little tough to say, but, you know, if you talk about something that is spreading, you know, very robustly throughout a community. You know, two to three times more contagious than flu, and up to 10 times, perhaps even more than that, more deadly than flu, then yes.”
Rick D. McMurtry, associate general counsel for WarnerMedia, the parent company of CNN, claimed in a letter to Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh that “the advertisement purposely and deceptively edits the clip to imply that Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were crediting the president’s travel ban policy issued in January for saving millions of American lives, when in fact Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were discussing recently implemented social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders issued by state and local governments.”
“CNN hereby demands that you discontinue airing the advertisement with the CNN clip that has been distorted in such a way as to mislead the public,” the letter said.
Murtaugh defended the ad.
“No discussion of efforts to prevent American deaths from the coronavirus can be had without the understanding that President Trump restricted travel from China in January. Based on that alone, the ad is accurate,” he wrote back on Monday.
CNN had first objected to the ad on Friday, McMurtry’s letter said, and insisted its objections be addressed or the ad would not appear on CNN.
The extent to which the Trump campaign was chastened by CNN’s letter could be seen in a tweet, which read, “CNN is EXTREMELY triggered by this new ad! It’d be a shame if we kept sharing it,” while repeating the one-minute message.
CNN is EXTREMELY triggered by this new ad!
It’d be a shame if we kept sharing it…
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) May 5, 2020
Murtaugh said in his response Monday that CNN is “once again the only outlet to reject a Trump campaign ad, and has now rejected multiple Trump ads that are demonstrably accurate.”
CNN is “effectively a Joe Biden Super PAC,” Murtaugh wrote.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.