Trump denies knowledge of ‘racist’ ad pulled by TV networks, Facebook
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Trump denies knowledge of ‘racist’ ad pulled by TV networks, Facebook

Campaign video equates convicted Mexican murderer with Central American migrants en route to US border

US President Donald Trump arrives for a 'Make America Great Again' campaign rally at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 4, 2018. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
US President Donald Trump arrives for a 'Make America Great Again' campaign rally at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 4, 2018. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

US President Donald Trump has denied prior knowledge of a campaign advertisement branded as racist which NBC, Fox News Channel and Facebook on Monday all said they will stop airing.

“I don’t know about it,” the president said when asked Monday about the ad which equates a convicted Mexican murderer with Central American migrants en route to the US border. “A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive.”

Released last week, the advertisement includes footage of Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported immigrant from Mexico sentenced to death in California for killing two police officers. He’s seen smiling in a court appearance and saying, “I will break out soon and I will kill more.”

The ad says, without evidence, that “Democrats let him into our country.” It shows masses of people shaking at a fence, apparently trying to break it down, and ended with the tagline, “Trump and Republicans are making America safe again.”

CNN said last week that it was “abundantly clear” that the ad was racist and declined to air it when the Trump campaign sought to buy airtime.

In response, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted over the weekend: “I guess they only run fake news and won’t talk about real threats that don’t suit their agenda.”

NBC aired it on the “Sunday Night Football” game between the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, which drew the highest overnight ratings of the franchise’s history. During football season, it’s usually the most-watched show on television, often with around 20 million viewers.

MSNBC also aired it on “Morning Joe” on Monday.

But after a fierce online response, NBC was the first of the three companies to say it was stopping the advertisement on Monday.

“After further review we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible,” NBC Universal said in a statement.

Fox News, the US president’s favorite television network and often considered favorable to his administration, also pulled the ad, with president of advertising sales Marianne Gambelli saying it had been dropped “upon further review.” Fox did not immediately say how many times it had aired on either Fox News Channel or the Fox Business Network.

Facebook said the ad “violates” the social network’s advertising policy against sensational content. “We have rejected it. While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution,” it said, noting that it will still allow its members to post the ad in their news feeds.

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted that NBC News, CNN and Facebook had chosen “to stand with those ILLEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY.” He said the media was trying to control what you see and think.

Parscale made no mention of Fox’s decision.

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