TV Station Refuses To Run ‘Pull The Plug On Grandma’ Ad Against Grassley, Ignoring Context Of The Remark

Last week, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and Democracy For America (DFA) rolled out a new campaign ad targeting Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), which features several videos produced by ThinkProgress, including one of Grassley infamously warning that Democrats’ health care reform bill may “pull the plug on grandma.”

PCCC and DFA planned to run the ad on broadcast and cable stations in the Des Moines market through this week, but NBC affiliate WHO-TV is refusing to run the ad, calling it misleading. “[T]he quotes have been very clearly edited to be completely taken out of context. So, the decision was made not to allow it to air,” the station’s general manager told the Iowa Independent. He even compared the ad to right-wing media tycoon Andrew Breitbart’s deceptively-edited video of former USDA offical Shirley Sherrod, and expressed particular concern about the “grandma” line:

Dale Woods, WHO-TV’s general manager, told You Report: Election 2010 that while “95 percent of the ad is perfectly okay,” he takes issue with the editing of a clip of Grassley saying, “They’re gonna pull the plug on grandma,” while the caption “Pull the plug on grandma” appears on the screen. Grassley’s full quote during the Congressional health care reform debate was “we should not have a government program that determines they’re gonna pull the plug on grandma.”

Of course, the “grandma” line was in reference to the mythical “death panels,” PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year,” which conservative politicians and pundits used to smear the Affordable Care Act.

As DFA’s Jeffrey Goetz said in response to WHO, “How can you take that out of context?” The full context of the remark — recorded by ThinkProgress — makes it explicitly clear that Grassley was indeed fear mongering about “end of life” care in the health bill:

GRASSLEY: I won’t name people in Congress, or people in Washington, but there’s some people that think it’s a terrible problem that grandma is laying in a hospital bed with tubes in her, and think there ought to be some government policy that enters into that. […]

In the House bill, there is counseling for end of life. And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before you’re going to die. You know, I don’t have any problems with living wills, but that should be done within the family. We should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.

Ironically, in claiming that the comments were taken out of context, Woods cited only the final sentence of Grassley’s statement, ignoring the context where the senator tells the crowd they should “fear” provisions in the bill providing “counseling at the end of life.”

The PCCC has now released a line-by-line citation explaining the full context of every Grassley snippet played in the ad, making it clear that Grassley is no victim of a Breitbart-like editing. Considering the low bar for truth in most attack ads, it’s astonishing that WHO would object to this ad — the only ad they’ve rejected this year — which fairly uses nothing more than Grassley’s own words against him.