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NBC, Fox News pull Trump immigration ad, Facebook blocks paid promotion

NBC came under fire for airing the commercial during its Sunday night NFL game between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers.
Image: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump attends a campaign rally ahead of midterm elections in Pensacola
President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at Pensacola International Airport in Florida on Nov. 3, 2018.Carlos Barria / Reuters

NBC and Fox News said on Monday morning that they would no longer air an immigration ad from President Donald Trump that has been widely derided as racially divisive.

"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," said Joe Benarroch, a spokesperson for NBC's advertising sales department.

Facebook also took action on Monday, blocking the ad from getting promoted through the company's paid distribution network, though it allowed the ad to remain on Trump's verified Facebook page, where it has been viewed more than one million times.

NBC came under fire for airing the commercial during its Sunday night NFL game between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers.

The decision to run the ad quickly drew criticism on social media, including from actress Debra Messing, who stars in the NBC comedy "Will and Grace."

"I want you to know that I am ashamed that my network aired this disgusting racist ad," Messing tweeted. "It is the antithesis of everything I personally believe in, and what, I believe, our show is all about."

The ad aired 18 times across multiple networks including Fox News and Fox Business Network, according to advertising tracking firm iSpotTV, which noted it also aired on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.

Shortly after NBC made its announcement, Fox News said it had decided on Sunday to stop showing the ad.

“Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network," Marianne Gambelli, president of ad sales for Fox News, said in an email.

Facebook said it had blocked the ad from receiving paid promotion because the video violated company advertising policy around "sensational content."

"This ad violates Facebook's advertising policy against sensational content so we are rejecting it," Facebook said in a statement. "While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution."

A spokesperson for Twitter said in an emailed statement that the ad also violates its "Inappropriate Content policy" and that the company would not allow it to be promoted.

CNN had declined to air the commercial.

"CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist," CNN's media relations Twitter account responded in a tweet to Donald Trump Jr., who said CNN refused to air the ad. “When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined. Those are the facts.”

The ad centered around an undocumented immigrant who was convicted of the murder of two law enforcement officials in California. Critics said it was aimed at stirring up anger toward immigrants before Election Day.

Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, tweeted that NBC, CNN and Facebook "have chosen to stand" with undocumented immigrants.

"The #FakeNewsMedia and #PaloAltoMafia are trying to control what you see and how you think," Parscale tweet. "STOP THE CARAVAN!"

As he boarded Air Force One on Monday, Trump was asked by a reporter about claims that the ad is offensive.

"Well, a lot of things are offensive," Trump said. "Your questions are offensive a lot of times."