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Labor group demands TV station yank racially-tinged ad tying Halter to India

I don't know if you caught this yesterday, but a business-backed third party group is running an unsightly new ad attacking Sen. Blanche Lincoln's Arkansas Democratic primary opponent, Bill Halter.

The spot, funded by Americans for Job Security, claims that Halter sat on the board of a company that exported jobs to India, and it shows Indians thanking Halter in heavy accents.

Making matters worse, Lincoln herself now has a new mailer featuring pictures of the Taj Mahal that also hits Halter for supposedly exporting jobs to India. (Update: Lincoln criticized the TV ad and her mailer may have preceded it.)

Now a union-backed group in Arkansas is demanding that KNWA-TV, which is running the ad, pull it from rotation. In a letter sent over by a labor official, the group, Arkansans for Change, strongly contests the ad's claims, pointing out that no jobs were ever transferred by Halter's company from Arkansas to India. And it rips the ad's stereotyping:

The ad features three actors, all supposedly of Indian descent, and contains background images that clearly suggest poverty, such as a crowded ma¡ket and a family presumably living in poorconditions.The actors "thank" Halter because the city needs employment opportunities so desperately. This grossly stereotypical portrayal of the Indian worker, and more specifically the Indian people as a whole, falls well outside the boundaries of civil discourse.

Based on the foregoing, I stongly urge you to immediately cease broadcasting this false and offensive advertisement.

I've checked in with KNWA and haven't gotten a comment back. A lot could ride on whether the station pulls the ad: There's reportedly $1 million behind it, which could carry real weight in Arkansas, and primary day (May 18th) is fast approaching.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 5, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems  
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This is one of the nastiest campaigns in a long time. I've been really disappointed in Blanche letting this Atwater-level material go out.

She talks like a Republican, votes like a Republican and now, smears like a Republican. It's too bad.

Posted by: LittlePig | May 5, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd also be interested to hear the DNC reaction to this.

Are they on board with this kind of intra-party attack? Does the DNC have any role in how these things work?

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 5, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

As to the dirtiness of this ad, I find it reprehensible. However, I'll also point out that you'd be awfully hard pressed to find someone who's served on the boards of companies that haven't sent jobs overseas. By that I mean odds are, if someone has been a board member, that company has sent jobs somewhere else, even if its been as mundane as tech support or phone banks. So, by my estimation, this lacks any substance in addition to being a dirty ad. It would only carry any weight if Lincoln had any record AT ALL of being a populist crusader, which she does not, and had she been a corporate board member would certainly be far more guilty of outsourcing than Halter may or may not be.

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | May 5, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't seem all that bad to me. Must be testing well. Hasn't Lincoln disavowed the ad? Does her mailer contain inaccuracies? The TV ad doesn't say that jobs were transferred from Arkansas to India. I suppose the "union-backed" group's next target will be Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 5, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Arkansas unemployed has risen 64% in the last 24 months.

This is a huge emotional issue for the state. The ad is designed to get you in the gut. Even if it's retracted later, it's done its job.

Posted by: MsJS | May 5, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

@sbj: Of course it doesn't seem all that bad to you. It's attacking a Democrat, and you're entire ideology revolves around one thing, being Anti-Democrat.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | May 5, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

@BGinCHI: The DNC will support Lincoln. It's the nature of the inherent incumbant protection in DC.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | May 5, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Does Blanche Lincoln (D-Walmart) really think that her patron doesn't shift jobs out of the country? Come on, Blanche, get real.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 5, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Not only will the DNC support Lincoln, but Obama just recorded a radio ad for her touting her success in working for the people of Arkansas re HCR and FinReg.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 5, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

@bbq: "@sbj: Of course it doesn't seem all that bad to you. It's attacking a Democrat, and you're entire ideology revolves around one thing, being Anti-Democrat."

Don't get me wrong - if the ad attacked someone I supported then I'd be its effectiveness. I say it's not that bad because it's pretty much typical and what we should all expect this cycle from both sides.

These guys must go ballistic when they watch South Park!

Posted by: sbj3 | May 5, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

It seems that after I click Submit my comment takes so long to appear that it must be routed through India...

Posted by: sbj3 | May 5, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Only the Democrats could conceive of party loyalty as a one-way street.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 5, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Greg, thanks for this article. Good to know there's push-back against these pathetic, cynical tactics by Blanche.

On the FL front, any chance we're going to get an article on Jeb Bush's endorsement of Rubio?

If I'm reading it right, it might not be far akin from Crist's Obama hug. The kiss of death for any moderate/disaffected GOPer in that state. Thx.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 5, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

O/T, more or less. Probably applies more to the previous thread in terms of rights and the rule of law.

Watch the video if you can stand it.

I don't know the whole of the context here, but there are times I really wonder about how much violence this society produces. Add to that the hysteria when attacks happen and you've got a nice case of cultural schizophrenia.

Democracy is hard, and sometimes I think it's too difficult for some people.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 5, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I get us a platform on the opinion page where we can talk and y'all are still not happy...tough crowd!


Posted by: sargegreg | May 5, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Lincoln is desperate and appears to be willing to stoop to any level to secure reelection. It can't be long before a Lincoln ad shows a white hand crumpling up a pink slip while an ominous sounding voice over mentions something about giving jobs to THEM. (Cue Orff's Carmina Burana, "O fortuna.") Lincoln is turning into John McCain.

Let's hope the good people of Arkansas don't fall for this nonsense which panders to the bigots.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 5, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Greg, it's not a criticism of you. I think most of us just want a system that works well. And I'm sure we'll get there.

It's not like we demanded a popcorn machine....

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 5, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

It's fine Greg, we're just a persnickety bunch as you should know by now. I've noticed quite a few newbies on some of the previous threads so that's good as well. This really elevates not only your profile but our suggestions and criticisms of the political process as well. Kudos!

Posted by: lmsinca | May 5, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

This is beyond loathsome. Where's Kal Penn (Kumar?)

Posted by: joeff | May 5, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Bloomberg says Mirandizing of Shahzad is fine, he's continued to be helpful:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 5, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"It's not like we demanded a popcorn machine...."

BUT can we add one?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 5, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Fear, Hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division is all Republicans (especially from Virginia) have to offer.

Posted by: thebobbob | May 5, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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