David Zurawik

NBC, Fox, Facebook pull racist Trump ad on eve of midterms

Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was convicted of killing two sheriff’s deputies in California in 2014, at his trial. An ad by the Trump campaign tried to link him to the caravan of Central Americans making its way through Mexico to the U.S. border.

NBC, Fox News and Facebook pulled a Trump campaign anti-immigrant advertisement that is widely considered to be racist.

CNN refused to run the ad last week, but other outlets accepted it, including NBC, where the ad aired during “Sunday Night Football,” which has audience of about 20 million.


In the wake of blowback to the ad, NBC issued a statement today saying "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."

Fox followed with a statement to CNN from its president of ad sales, Marianne Gabelli, saying, Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network.”


Facebook said it was rejecting the ad because it violated the platform’s “advertising policy against sensational content.”

The ad targeting the caravan of Central American immigrants moving through Mexico toward the U.S. border included video and audio of Luis Bracamontes, a convicted cop killer who entered the country illegally from Mexico, saying he would like “to kill more cops.”

The ad then claims “Democrats let him in. Democrats let him stay.”

Neither is true. He entered the country illegally, and he was deported at least twice, according to CNN reporting on immigration records.

The ad immediately evoked comparisons to the racist Willie Horton ad that helped George H.W. Bush get elected over Michael Dukakis in 1988. That ad featured an African-American man convicted of murder who committed an armed robbery and rape on a weekend furlough from prison.

CNN rejected the ad on Friday.

On Saturday, Donald Trump Jr. went after CNN on Twitter for not running the ad. Here’s the tweet and a version of the ad that differs from the one reported on by CNN. (You can see a video of the version of the ad reported on by CNN here.)

"CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist,” a CNN spokesperson wrote in response on Twitter. “When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined. Those are the facts.”


I was part of a panel on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday that talked about the ad. I termed it racist without reservation and said it is imperative for mainstream media to call out Trump for such divisive acts.

This is especially true on the eve of an election when voters could be swayed by such a visceral appeal.

The discussion of the ad starts at the 3-minute mark.