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CNN Sends Cease-and-Desist Letter Demanding Trump Campaign Take Down ‘False, Misleading, and Deceptive’ Ad

'Misleading' Trump Campaign Ad Features Wolf Blitzer, Sanjay Gupta

WarnerMedia, the parent company of CNN, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Trump campaign, demanding that it take down a new ad it began airing on Sunday, that the media company’s lawyers say is a “false, misleading, and deceptive” use of CNN footage.

According to CNN, the network’s parent company is pushing for the removal of Trump campaign’s new, one-minute-long “American Comeback” ad. The Trump campaign had announced on Friday that it was planning a week-long, seven-figure buy for the ad to run nationwide.

In the ad, two brief snippets of CNN footage from the March 30th episode of The Situation Room are included. The first includes part of a question from anchor Wolf Blitzer to CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. As the letter points out, the ad truncates the question from Blitzer to make it seem like he is only asking about President Donald Trump’s ban on a commercial travel ban from China in early January and that, without that decision, Blitzer concludes “it could’ve been two million people dead here in the United States?” Moments later, Gupta is seen saying “Yes,” in apparent affirmation.

However, Blitzer’s question was much longer and included a number of other variables: “Is it accurate that if these steps had not been put in place, the stay-at-home orders, the social distancing orders, as the President said yesterday, it could have been two million people dead here in the United States?”

Gupta’s answer, as well, was much longer and more nuanced than the one-word clip in the ad. “I mean, you know, these are all models, Wolf,” Gutpa replied. “It’s a little tough to say, but, you know, if you talk about something that is spreading, you know, very robustly throughout a community. You know, two to three times more contagious than flu, and up to 10 times, perhaps even more than that, more deadly than flu, then yes.”

“The advertisement purposely and deceptively edits the clip to imply that Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were crediting the President’s travel ban policy issued in January for saving millions of American lives, when in fact Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were discussing recently implemented social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders issued by state and local governments,” Rick McMurtry, associate general counsel for WarnerMedia, wrote in the letter addressed to Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director. “CNN hereby demands that you discontinue airing the advertisement with the CNN clip that has been distorted in such a way as to mislead the public.”

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