Fox TV Station Refuses Gay Democrats Campaign Ad

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A New York affiliate of the Fox network is refusing to run a commercial for a gay Democratic candidate running for Manhattan Borough President.

Although WNYW/Channel 5 have yet to put it in writing, network representatives have informed Brian Ellner’s campaign that the ad was rejected because Fox views it as “disrespectful” to the president.

In a voice-over openly critical of the president’s war and education policies, Ellner’s spot shows Bush’s face superimposed on a middle-aged man’s naked upper torso, then suggesting that the “the emperor has no clothes.”

At the end of the commercial, Ellner introduces his partner, Simon Holloway. Ellner’s campaign staff says they believe it is the first time in the city’s history that a gay candidate has introduced a same-sex partner in a campaign commercial.

According to Ellner’s campaign, the Fox affiliate was “the only local station to reject the advertisement out of roughly 15 network or cable affiliates – including NY1 News, WABC and WNBC.”

In an interview on Tuesday with the Gay Financial Network, Ellner called the Fox affiliate’s decision either an antigay decision, because he introduced his partner, or simply an anti-free speech decision.

Either way, he said, “WNYW’s decision is both untenable and un-American – and disrespectful to voters.”

“Our ad buyer was told they wouldn’t run the spot because it was disrespectful to the president of the United States,” Ellner told GFN. “When they were asked to state it in writing, they refused to say why they are keeping it off the air.”

Brandii Toby, a spokeswoman for the affiliate, told The New York Times the station was refusing to run Ellner’s advertisement but declined to provide further explanation.

Ellner’s campaign, which has raised more than $1.2 million in the Democratic race for Manhattan Borough President for the primary on Tuesday Sept. 13, has spent about $300,000 on media buys – more than any other candidate in that race. According to an op-ed in The New York Times, Fox’s refusal to run the ad will likely bring further attention to Ellner in what is shaping up to be a crowded race.

An attorney and a former president of the District 2 School Board in Manhattan, Ellner noted he has a long history of standing up for equal rights and civil rights. As Borough President, he said he plans to be “an aggressive advocate for progressive values like affordable housing, neighborhood preservation and real education reform.”

The ad can be viewed in its entirety at

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