KREX received a cease-and-desist letter (pdf) from President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign threatening the station over a political ad it ran called “Exponential Threat” produced by Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC.
The ad juxtaposes a montage of the many dismissive comments Trump made about the Coronavirus pandemic earlier this year with an animated chart showing the rising number of infections in the United States. It ends by saying: “America needs a leader we can trust.”
The Trump campaign sent the threatening letter to television stations across the country, suggesting it would sue the stations for defamation and urge the Federal Communications Commission to revoke their FCC licenses.
“I can guarantee everyone got it, KKCO, KJCT…”
The letters are the President’s attempt to frighten TV stations out of broadcasting any anti-Trump ads at all, but the threatened legal actions are unlikely to go anywhere, according to Mark Joseph Stearn, who covers courts and the law for Slate. The ads are run-of-the mill campaign ads that are fully protected free speech.
Receipt of the letter was confirmed by Kevin McChesney of KREX’s Advertising Sales Department, who said they received it about 3 weeks ago.
McChesney said it’s not uncommon for the station to get half a dozen letters like this from both political parties every election year. He said the station has gotten them regularly over the 20 years he’s been there, and “they never came to anything.” McChesney said they only stop running an ad if their legal department says to, for example if a claim in the ad is unsubstantiated.
McChesney said their procedure is to send such letters to their company’s legal department and let the lawyers address them.
McChesney also said “I can guarantee everyone got it — KKCO, KJCT. I know KKCO got it, too, and they have the same process as we do — send it to corporate.”