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Graphic campaign ads are headed for local TVs -- but not YouTube

Washington Post Editor

The graphic television ads created by Missy Reilly Smith, a GOP candidate for the District's congressional delegate seat, to generate interest in her long-shot campaign will probably start hitting television sets across the region this week.

But that doesn't mean the ads, which feature photographs of supposedly aborted fetuses, are suitable for YouTube.

To the dismay of local Republicans, who are distancing themselves from their nominee, Smith has reportedly bought airtime on the local networks as she tries to unseat Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) in the overwhelmingly Democratic District.

Despite the ads' controversial and grotesque content, local television stations say they have no choice but to show them because of federal regulations.

Jerry Fitz, a lawyer for Allbritton Communications, which owns WJLA (Channel 7), told Politico's Ben Smith on Friday that the "Communications Act requires broadcast stations to sell 'reasonable amounts' of ad time to qualified federal candidates and bars stations from making any changes to those spots, in what's known as the 'no censorship' provision. "

A spokesman for WRC (Channel 4) told The Washington Post's Mike DeBonis that federal regulations require it to show an ad it received from Smith. But WRC plans to air a message preceding the ad, warning viewers that it contains "extremely graphic images."

The ads are featured on Smith's Web site. On Friday, at least one the spots could also be located on YouTube. But YouTube has since yanked the ad.

"This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on shocking and disgusting content," the link to Smith's ad now states.

-- Tim Craig

By Washington Post Editor  | October 18, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
Categories:  GOP, 2010 District Election, Tim Craig  
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Glad to know YouTube can say no even if the TV stations can't.

Posted by: KellyG2 | October 19, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Glad to know YouTube can say no even if the TV stations can't. The ad is distasteful and misleading. Shame on the FCC to allow this flagrant abuse of the law for political advertisements.

Posted by: KellyG2 | October 19, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Just because Missy Smith couldn't keep her legs together and ended up having two abortions, it doesn't give her the right to assault us with her 'do as I say, not as I did' ads.

And to utter the comments, in the ad, that she was 'lied to' regarding what was growing inside her. What did she think would eventually be born had she not intervened?

For all of us out here who have NEVER had abortions, have been responsible in our sexual lives and still support a woman's right to choice, and for the majority of women who have had abortions and are living normal lives without regret, Missy Smith needs to live with her own history and not foist this upon those of us who were not as irresponsible as she was.

Murder, as she calls it in her own opinion for the murders she considers that she has committed, does not qualify her as a candidate. But of course, she claims she was "lied to" so that absolves her of any responsibility.

Irresponsibility is not something I want in my representative.

Shame on you Missy Smith for working out your psychological issues at the dinner hour in view of my children's eyes. My TV is now officially turned off until after election day.

Posted by: helentroy4 | October 20, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I am highly disgusted with Missy's commercials and I can't believe that the network would actually allow this to be aired. I saw it at 7pm. Imagine if children were watching! Similar to Helentroy, I have never had an abortion and I support the right to choose, and for people like us, this is offensive and disheartening. I will be sure to get to the polls to vote AGAINST her in the election.

Posted by: lmingras | October 20, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

This article quotes a YouTube statement that Missy Smith's campaign ads were removed from YouTube because of "shocking and disgusting content." I fully agree. Although the article characterized the images as "photographs of supposedly aborted fetuses" (what else do you think they could be?), they are surely shocking and disgusting. What does that say about abortion? Let's hope everyone finds the images, the ads, and abortion thoroughly shocking and disgusting. Let's hope Missy Smith's courageous breakthrough in finally, after 37 years, getting these images on television will wake up the deniers about what is really being done in our country some 4,000 times a day.

And if you want to get around YouTube's censorship, go to

Posted by: donnabethell1 | October 20, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

This ad was disgusting and I was shocked to see it at 4pm when children were watching the program it was on. This campaign should be ashamed and embarrassed.

While I have and will always support free speech, this goes beyond human decency and these ads should not be on television in the afternoon.

You can't swear or show nudity, but you can show this filth?????? Says something about the state of our society and the "decency" of these tea party candidates.

Posted by: lindsey20874 | October 21, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

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