Fox News refuses to run anti-Trump ad during RNC, teachers' union claims

The union planned to spend $180,000 to run the ad during primetime breaks in the convention 

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 27 August 2020 03:56 BST
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Fox News allegedly refused to air an ad produced by a teachers' union that criticised Donald Trump's leadership since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ad was scheduled to run during the Republican National Convention. The union said it planned to spend $180,000 to run the ad during primetime breaks on Wednesday and Thursday night.

The network justified its decision by claiming the ad was inaccurate.

The ad - produced by the American Federation of Teachers' super PAC, AFT Solidarity - attacks Mr Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, alleging the Republican leaders failed to provide educators with enough personal protective equipment and effectively devise a safe re-opening strategy for schools.

"Enough is enough. This November, say 'no' to Trump and McConnell's chaos," the ad states.

Fox News rejected the claim that it outright refused to run the ad, and claimed that the network asked the union to correct information it considered questionable.

“FOX News did not reject the ad," a spokesperson for the network told The Independent. "The network asked for AFT to revise the ad for accuracy and instead of receiving a revised spot, AFT decided to cancel the buy. FOX News has run numerous political ads this season across the political spectrum and expressing diverse viewpoints. This had nothing to do with politics.”

The spokesperson pointed out that Fox News ran a two minute ad for Democratic candidate Joe Biden during the convention.

The spokesperson did not go into details as to what elements of the ad were questioned or what changes needed to be made in order for the network to green-light it.

The AFT describes the negotiations with the network differently, and claims it was given the impression that the ad was simply not going to be run regardless of changes made.

According to the AFT, Fox News' advertising staff told the group they wanted to see a "more specific argument" for why it was Mr Trump's and Mr McConnell's responsibility to develop a plan for students to safely return to public schools.

The ad will still air around the country on CNN during the convention on Wednesday and Thursday, according to AFT.

“There are great journalists who work at Fox News, but it seems executives want to pick and choose how to apply the First Amendment when it comes to brave teachers telling the truth about who’s to blame for the current chaos of school re-openings,” Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT said. Ms Weingarten regularly appears on Fox News.

Ms Weingarten said the public should know who is standing in the way of safely re-opening schools.

“What is Fox afraid of? We need resources and supports to keep our students safe as we reopen,” she said. “People should know who is and isn’t helping.”

Public education is one of the myriad issues that affects everyone but has nonetheless become a partisan issue.

Many conservative politicians complain that public schools are inefficient and support private alternatives and school choice programmes which allow parents to move students out of public school districts and place them in charter or private schools.

Teachers' unions - as with most unions - tend to ally politically with the Democratic party. The AFT has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 US election.

There have been several high-profile teacher strikes since Mr Trump took office, during which educators pushed for better protections and more funding for schools. The strikes often took place in states with Republican-controlled state governments.

Republicans attacked teachers' unions during the first night of the RNC. Rebecca Friedrichs, who spoke on Monday night, has been fighting to stop teachers' unions from compelling members who disagree with a union's politics to pay their dues.

Dues are the primary means by which unions fund their political efforts, including strike funds.

She claimed that teachers' unions trap "so many precious, low-income children in dangerous, corrupt, and low-performing schools" because they oppose the redirection of funds meant for public schools towards private and charter schools.

Private and charter schools - while still forced to meet education requirements - are ultimately profit-seeking entities as they are businesses and not public institutions.

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