On Sunday, The Lincoln Project—a political action committee comprising anti-Trump Republicans backing Joe Biden—digitally released an ad called “The Flag of Treason,” which takes aim to President Trump’s not-so-casual embrace of racial divisiveness and his alliances with Confederate sympathizers.
It’s a provocative ad, for sure—and too provocative, it seems, for ABC11-WTVD.
In a tweet today, The Lincoln Project said that ABC11, in what it called an act of “overt cowardice,” declined to air the ad on the grounds that it was “inflammatory.”
Our statement on @ABC11_WTVD refusing to air our ad, "Flag of Treason" https://t.co/B9WY89vw6q— The Lincoln Project (@The Lincoln Project)1591122401.0
According to the PAC’s communications director, Keith Edwards, ABC11 told The Lincoln Project’s ad buyer that it didn’t want to further inflame “the situation on the ground,” an apparent reference to this weekend’s unrest in Raleigh.
The ad began running today in nine markets in six swing states, each market including Republican-leaning counties. While the region’s stations are housed in the solidly Democratic Triangle, they also cover the Republican-friendlier Fayetteville.
ABC11 was the only station in the country to reject the ad, Edwards says. Other local TV stations will air it.
ABC11 general manager Carolyn Welch did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment on the station’s decision.
The Lincoln Project—headed by GOP operatives George Conway III (the husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway), Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson—has demonstrated a knack for renting space in the president’s brain. Its previous ad, “Mourning in America,” quickly garnered more than 1 million views and drove the president into a Twitter frenzy.
“We have a team of lifelong conservatives that understand the Republican brain probably better than Trump does,” Edwards says.