The Obama campaign is asking the Department of Justice to silence Harold Simmons, a man spending his own money to attack Barack Obama:
Sen. Barack Obama has launched an all-out effort to block a Republican billionaire’s efforts to tie him to domestic and foreign terrorists in a wave of negative television ads.
Obama’s campaign has written the Department of Justice demanding a criminal investigation of the “American Issues Project,” the vehicle through which Dallas investor Harold Simmons is financing the advertisements. The Obama campaign — and tens of thousands of supporters — also is pressuring television networks and affiliates to reject the ads. The effort has met with some success: CNN and Fox News are not airing the attacks.
What part of “freedom of speech” don’t they understand? In addition to trying to get the DOJ to investigate this guy (which presumably will not happen), they are threatening stations that accept the ads:
Obama’s campaign has written a pair of letters to station managers carrying the ads.
The letter calls the ad’s attempt to link Obama to terrorism “an appalling lie, a disgraceful smear of the lowest kind on the senator’s patriotism and commitment to the rule of law.”
Airing the ad “is inconsistent with your station’s obligations under Federal Communications Commission regulations,” the letter continues.
Also, remember the time when the word “lie” was reserved for statements or implications that were, you know, factually untrue? Here’s the ad Obama wants to squelch. It’s nasty, but every word is true.
Obama has also decided to run a response ad. Unlike Simmons’s ad, it actually does lie, by implying that McCain is running the ad when he isn’t. Other than that, the response strikes me as pretty weak. That’s mainly because there’s very little in Simmons’s ad to contradict.
POSTSCRIPT: Setting everything else aside, isn’t it strange that the Obama campaign has decided to make a big deal out of this? The media was covering it up for him before, but now they can’t.