NBC News Pushes Back on New Mitt Romney TV Ad Attacking Newt Gingrich

PENSACOLA, Fla. - NBC News is pushing back on a new Mitt Romney television ad in Florida that uses the network's news report from the day former Speaker Newt Gingrich was fined for ethics violations.

"The NBC Legal Department has written a letter to the campaign asking for the removal of all NBC News material from their campaign ads … Similar requests have gone out to other campaigns that have inappropriately used Nightly News, Meet the Press, Today and MSNBC material," according to a statement from NBC News.

The ad, released Saturday morning, features footage from January 21, 1997, and is nearly completely void of any graphics or voiceovers that are common in political advertisements.

The ad opens with NBC's Tom Brokaw behind the anchor desk at "Nightly News" telling viewers that Gingrich has been "found guilty of ethics violations."

The Romney ad simply plays Brokaw's opening: "Good evening. Newt Gingrich, who came to power, after all, preaching a higher standard in American politics, a man who brought down another Speaker on ethics accusations, tonight he has on his own record the judgment of his peers, Democrat and Republican alike."

"By an overwhelming vote, they found him guilty of ethics violations; they charged him a very large financial penalty, and they raised - several of them - raised serious questions about his future effectiveness," reads Brokaw.

The ad ends with the standard sign off by Romney, who in a voice over says, "I'm Mitt Romney, and I approve this message."

While the Romney campaign initially said that they had not received the complaint from NBC News, senior adviser Eric Ferhnstrom later told reporters: "We just received the letter we are reviewing it but we believe it falls within fair use."


In addition to NBC News' statement, Brokaw has also complained publicly about the campaign's ad.

"I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad.  I do no want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign," Brokaw said today.

Ferhnstrom, asked whether the ad may alienate voters who are also fans of Brokaw, responded, "He's a very respected newsman but we believe that the use of that clip falls within fair use standards. We respect him as a newsman who has a lot of credibility but we believe this falls within fair use standards."

While news broke of NBC's complaint regarding the ad Saturday afternoon, several members of the Romney campaign were retweeting the link to the ad, seeming to capitalize on the free publicity.

Spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweeted, "Watch the @MittRomney ad that has everyone abuzz here! http://t.co/Zsap3jsr #Mitt2012. "

The Twitter handle belonging to Romney, although not operated solely by him, also tweeted a link to the TV ad.

The campaign ad is a far cry from the others, many of which are highly produced and feature doomsday voice overs and graphic treatment over images of Gingrich.

The Gingrich campaign released a statement responding to the ad saying it was "another big lie from the Romney campaign."

"The Romney campaign is up with another false ad attacking Speaker Gingrich.  This time their false ad shows news coverage from 1997 after the House of Representatives voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich," the statement said. "What the Romney campaign is hoping the American people don't remember is that in 1999, the IRS cleared Speaker Gingrich of the substance of the ethics committee investigation."