There’s been a lot of talk about how Focus on Family—which has been on the financial brink and has had to lay off a lot of its workforce—is stupid to spend $2.5 million on the ad time alone for this anti-choice Tim Tebow ad. But CBS has had the rule against political advocacy ads for awhile now, and even as recently as last year, they denied an almost identical anti-choice ad, generating the usual faux outrage on the right. Is it possible that Focus on Family made the ad with the intention of it getting rejected?
Think about it. The ad gets rejected, and so they’re “forced” to put it on a website and send out a mailer about it, with a fund-raising appeal attached. The pose they affect is the absolute favorite one of wingnuts, which is that they’re victims of the evil liberal mafia that controls everything. It’s a very effective fund-raising ploy, and goes a long way to explaining why Pat Robertson is always there in a crisis, saying something horrible that gets everyone up in arms. “We piss off the liberals!” is exactly the sort of thing that opens wingnut wallets. But the plan was thwarted when CBS actually accepted the ad, probably in part because they don’t want to have to go through this crap every year with the antis.
Of course, the gamble was probably a “win-win” thing in their minds. If the ad is accepted, they get a bunch of free press and win. But if the ad is rejected, they get a bunch of free press and win. But in the latter scenario, the fund-raising appeal is strengthened and they don’t have to spend $2.5 million on the ad space. Now, the fund-raising appeal is weaker. They’re going to have to go with, “They tried to censor us!” instead of saying they were actually censored. Of course, to the wingnut mind, feminists even having the nerve to speak out is horrible anti-Christian oppression, so perhaps this is a distinction that’s too fine for them. Still, I have to think that actually being prevented from running the ad has more oomph than running the ad and getting criticized.
I’m not taking a “ignore them and they’ll go away” approach, of course. But I do wish that more of the feminist response had been centered around the inherent contradiction of anti-choicers celebrating choice, and less in demanding that CBS not run the ad. There’s a strong possibility that the more Focus on Family does stuff like this, the closer they get to bankruptcy, after all. But more to the point, instead of playing the role of censor in their fund-raising appeals, we could continue to point out that they’re buying into the pro-choice framework, and that if women like Pam Tebow don’t have a choice, they don’t get to be heroes. Just victims.
I’ll be talking about the ad from this point of view on the Michael Slate show today, by the way. I’m the first booked guest, so tune it at the top of the hour.