Exclusive: Fox News said to reject ad on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, November 23, 2010 10:11 EDT
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Fox News has declined to air an ad advocating for repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military, a source at the public policy think tank Palm Center informs Raw Story.

The 30-second spot by the Center, called “Business As Usual,” includes testimony from military leaders of NATO allies arguing that lifting the ban on gay soldiers is a “non-event” and does not diminish combat effectiveness.

“Fox’s reason was that the policy is ‘on hold’ so plans for repeal are ‘incorrect’,” Cathy Renna, a spokeswoman for the Center, told Raw Story.

The ad includes testimony from Major General (now Lieutenant General) Walter Semianiw, Chief of Military Personnel in the Canadian Forces, and Major General Simon Willis (retired), former Head of Defence Personnel in the Australian Defence.

“There is no negative impact of having men and women of any sexual orientation fighting together,” says Semianiw in the ad. Adds Willis, comparing the lifting of the ban to Y2K: “It was a non-event, and it continues to be a non-event.”

“I am surprised that Fox News would reject an ad featuring allied Generals, given that both host Bill O’Reilly and guest contributor Liz Cheney have expressed support for open gay service,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Center. “This is an important time for input from all sides on this issue, and I hope Fox will reconsider.”

A spokesman for Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.

The group intends to run its spot on other networks. “The Center has submitted the ad to MSNBC and CNN and anticipates no problems,” Renna said.

Support for reversing the ban has gradually risen over the years, and Americans are strongly opposed to it. A Washington Post/ABC News poll in May found that 3 in 4 Americans support repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Key US military leaders, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, support ending the policy. The Obama administration and many Democrats say they want it repealed, but the process has run into gridlock due to Republican opposition.

GOP lawmakers argue that ending the ban could diminish the military’s effectiveness and hurt troop moral — a claim that contradicts recent assessments by soldiers and military leaders.

The following is the ad, uploaded to YouTube by MichaelPalmCenter.

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