Yesterday a small brouhaha erupted over ads that were supposed to run on a network called “Gas Station TV.” (“A provider of content to television monitors at filling stations around America.”) Here’s how Senator Obama’s team responded when it learned that the ads would not run on the network (via Jake Tapper at ABC):
The Obama campaign claims that “Gas Station TV informed the campaign this afternoon (that) the company will not run ads that are damaging to oil companies.”
“Once again, the oil companies and their friends are standing with Senator McCain, the candidate for president who is proposing to offer them a $4 billion tax cut,” said Obama’s Florida Communications Director Mark Bubriski. “It looks like Gas Station TV doesn’t want the American people to know about Senator Obama’s plan to offer working families a $1,000 energy rebate that would be funded by a tax on oil company profits. The oil companies have taken sides in this race, and they are standing with John McCain, because they know he’s been in Washington for 26 years and can be counted on to pursue for another four years of the Bush energy policy that’s made them billions of dollars.”
The Obama campaign forwarded excerpts from emails it claims are between the campaign’s media buyer, Daniel Jester, and a representative for the ad company confirming that GSTV initially approved the buy, saying “Please note that GSTV has approved the spot,” and “the GSTV owners have signed off on this.”
Not exactly. Here’s GSTV’s side of the story via a statement released last night:
Response to Inquiries about Political Ads Reported to Run on Gas Station TV Network
DETROIT— August 6, 2008 – To correct inaccurate information previously reported and in the spirit of transparency with our partners, customers and the public, Gas Station TV confirms no political ads have run, are running or will run on the Gas Station TV Network, regardless of content or political party affiliation.
Gas Station TV did consider running political ads and was approached by multiple campaign representatives, including the Barack Obama campaign. In compliance with the company’s editorial policy, the company made a conscious decision not to run any political ads on the Gas Station TV network as it would deviate from its standing policy. Since the company’s inception, Gas Station TV’s editorial policy for content distributed to all Gas Station TV markets clearly states:
“Gas Station TV shall publish content that is fair and open-minded. We will air objective and even handed content. Gas Station TV will never promote a particular view on controversial matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy.”
The campaigns that contacted Gas Station TV did not receive approval to move forward with a media buy on our network. At no time did Gas Station TV receive what is known in the media industry as an insertion order, which is required to purchase ads on the network. Gas Station TV must approve any ads running on the network and no political ads were sent to Gas Station TV for review and approval. All ads are subject to creative review before airing.
No invoices indicating approval from Gas Station TV to run a political ad were developed and at no time were related financial transactions completed with Gas Station TV and its partners. Email chains not coming directly from Gas Station TV staff members indicating anything different are inaccurate, taken out of context and lack understanding of the standard media buying process, as well as Gas Station TV’s ad review and approval process.
At a time when presidential campaign ads monopolize prime-time, Gas Station TV believes it is important to be able to provide traditional advertisers with a clutter-free environment to showcase their brands and target marketing messages to a captive audience. Gas Station TV retains full editorial control over ads airing on its network.
Notice in the Tapper email above that the Obama camp has only released “excerpts” of emails. Why not release the entire email thread? As David Freddoso writes, there’s nothing new about Obama’s politics. Whatever it takes to win, he’ll do – even if it means slamming a small, entrepreneurial company in the process.