Mo. Democratic nominee for US Senate keeps TV ad despite copyright lawsuit by Fox News Network

By David A. Lieb, AP
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mo. Democrat keeps TV ad despite Fox News lawsuit

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Democrat Robin Carnahan is forging ahead with a television ad in her U.S. Senate campaign despite being sued by the Fox News Network for copyright infringement, her campaign said Thursday.

Spokesman Linden Zakula defended the ad, saying the campaign believes it complies with the law. The ad will remain on TV, though it no longer appears on the campaign website.

The ad includes a clip from a January 2006 interview by Fox News journalist Christopher Wallace with Republican Rep. Roy Blunt, who is Carnahan’s opponent in the Senate race. In the ad, Wallace cites Blunt’s attempt to insert a provision benefiting tobacco giant Philip Morris into a 2002 homeland security bill while he had a relationship with a company lobbyist, who later became Blunt’s wife.

Wallace also cites payments by Blunt’s campaign committee to an unspecified firm linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion. Wallace then asks Blunt, who was running for a House Republican leadership post: “Are you the one to clean up the House?”

The TV ad, which began airing Sept. 10, does not show Blunt’s answer.

The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, claims copyright infringement and the misuse of Wallace’s image, among other things. The lawsuit notes that the Fox News Network has not endorsed a candidate in Missouri’s Senate race.

“The Carnahan ad is designed to make it appear as if Wallace — a trusted journalist — is instead speaking as a campaign operative,” the lawsuit states.

Kansas City attorney Bernard Rhodes, who filed the lawsuit, did not return a telephone message for comment Thursday.

Blunt campaign spokesman Rich Chrismer said Carnahan was campaigning with “dishonesty and false personal attacks.”

Zakula, Carnahan’s campaign spokesman, said: “We stand behind our ad and will continue to tell the truth (about Blunt).”

The online version of the ad was removed by YouTube because of the copyright claim. As a result, the ad also was taken down from Carnahan’s campaign website. In its place Thursday was a message stating: “The interview with Roy Blunt that Fox News doesn’t want you to see has been temporarily removed.”

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