The We Can Solve It Campaign, a project of The Alliance for Climate Protection -- a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore -- got muzzled by ABC TV Tuesday night.
The goal of the Alliance is to build a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis -- in part through repowering America with 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources within 10 years. Our economy, national security, and climate can’t afford to wait, the group says, and I believe them after seeing Gore's film on global warming two years ago.
The We Can Solve It campaign wanted to run an ad, which they were prepared to payt for, to air immediately after the Presidential debate. "Repowering" America is the message in the ad... and then some. The ad also attacks big oil, saying they spend millions on lobbyists (true), ads (true) and even scandals (perhaps. I don't know) to block legislation.
It's ironic that the network lets the candidates take potshots at big oil in the debates, but they won't allow a non-profit group to run an ad.
Cathy Zoi, CEO of We Can Solve It, sent out an email explaining what happened. She wrote:
"ABC had Chevron. CBS had Exxon. CNN had the coal lobby.
But you know what happened last night? ABC refused to run our Repower
America ad -- the ad that takes on this same oil and coal lobby.
I sent a letter asking ABC to reconsider their decision and put our ad on the air, but still we haven't heard back more than a week later."
Here's the ad's script:
The solution to our climate crisis seems simple.
Repower America with wind and solar.
End our dependence on foreign oil. A stronger economy.
So why are we still stuck with dirty and expensive energy?
Because big oil spends hundreds of millions of dollars to block clean energy.
Lobbyists, ads, even scandals.
All to increase their profits, while America suffers.
Breaking big oil's lock on our government ...
Now that's change.
We're the American people and we approve this message.
You can view the ad by clicking here...
I can understand the execs at ABC not wanting to upset some very big advertisers, especially in the current advertising and economic climate. But since they use the airwaves -- the public airwaves -- are they right to limit discussion of a critical issue?
The networks run ads that slam competing products. They run ads by politicians slamming their opponents. Why should they be allowed to prohibit a legitimate non-profit group from putting its viewpoint out there? Pressure behind the scenes from big advertisers? Or just fear in the ABC boardroom that such pressure might be exerted or ads might be pulled. Either way, it sounds exactly like what the ad says is happening.
We Can Solve It probably could have gotten the ad on the air if they were willing to hold back on some of the punches and soften the language and accusations critical of the oil companies. But would the message have had the intended impact?
We Can Solve It just might end up getting more views and discussion because ABC refused to run the ad. It's bound to be talked about online in blogs like this, via email and eventually it may well get picked up in the mainstream news media.. except, of course, ABC.
Some interesting ironies and challenges at play here, wouldn't you say?