In recent weeks, CBS has been taking heat over its decision to allow Focus on the Family’s pro-life ad, featuring Heisman winner Tim Tebow, to air during the Super Bowl. The right wing quickly rushed to the defense of Focus on the Family. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin urged CBS to “just do the right thing. Don’t cave. Have the backbone to run the ad.” This week, the far-right American Family Association (AFA) launched an action alert asking people to let CBS know they support the ad.
CBS revealed that it is open to accepting other “responsibly produced” advocacy ads, besides the Focus on the Family spot. “We have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms,” spokesman Dana McClintock said.
However, yesterday CBS announced that it had rejected a commercial for a gay dating site called ManCrunch.com:
“After reviewing the ad, which is entirely commercial in nature, our standards and practices department decided not to accept this particular spot,” said CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs. “We are always open to working with a client on alternative submissions.”
Elissa Buchter, a spokesperson for the site, called CBS’s rejection “straight-up discrimination.” A letter from CBS said that the ad was “not within the Network’s broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday.” The commercial “shows two men excitedly watching the game, before their hands brush as they both reach into a bowl of chips. Suddenly, the two begin making out, much to the shock of a guy sitting close by.” The New York Post concluded that the ad is “no more racy than nearly any beer commercial not starring the Budweiser Clydesdales.” Watch it:
CBS’s decision to accept the Focus on the Family ad was controversial because most networks have a policy of banning advocacy ads during the Super Bowl, and have rejected ones by groups such as MoveOn.org and PETA in the past. Last year, NBC rejected a 30-second public service announcement about marriage equality to run during the Super Bowl.
Andrew Sullivan writes, “In the past, issues ads were deemed non-kosher – but if it’s a Christianist and virulently anti-gay organization behind the ad, it appears to be ok. But if it’s a humorous commercial ad for a gay dating service, CBS says no. … There is one reason this ad was denied. Its gay content was deemed offensive to football fans, while an anti-abortion issues ad wasn’t. That’s called blatant discrimination and if it doesn’t lead to aggressive protests I’ll be very surprised.”