Metro will not pull down a political ad that has caught the attention of some riders and lawmakers at the Clarendon rail stop, transit officials said.
The ad reads “Barack Obama wants politicians and bureaucrats to control America’s entire medical system. Go to hell Barack.” It says to watch the movie “Sick & Sicker to see where ObamaCare will take us.”
Metro chief spokesman Dan Stessel said the agency has “no plans of pulling the ad down.” He said the agency “can not decline ads based on political content.”
In an e-mail, Stessel wrote that the transit agency’s advertising “has been ruled by the courts as a public forum protected by the First Amendment.”
“WMATA does not endorse the advertising on our system, and ads do not reflect the position of the Authority,” he wrote.
CBS Outdoor, which handles Metro’s advertising, would not comment on the ad.
Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) wrote to Metro on Wednesday asking that the ad be removed, calling it “an offensive advertisement disparaging the recent health law.”
“This advertisement is inappropriate, disrespectful of the President, and should be removed immediately,” Moran said in a statement on his Web site. “The families with children and thousands of tourists who take Metro everyday should not be subjected to such garbage. I understand WMATA vets these advertisements before allowing them to go up, but it seems someone wasn’t doing their job when this ad was approved.”
Moran later expressed dismay at Metro’s decision not to remove the ad.
“I am disappointed by WMATA’s defense of this inappropriate advertisement,” he said in a press release. “If their current advertising guidelines do not prohibit profane advertisements on taxpayer-funded property, then WMATA should take the initiative and update them. Profanity has no place in the public forum.
“The specific language in the WMATA-approved ad that should be removed is not political, it’s profane. It defames the President of the United States in a way that coarsens the public discourse. All Americans have the right to make their voice heard under the First Amendment. But when we are talking about an advertisement on tax-payer funded facilities, as is the case with Metro, it should meet the minimum standards of propriety. I repeat my call on WMATA to exercise appropriate judgment and remove this offensive ad.”
A phone call and e-mail to the company whose name is on the ad — Freestar Media — did not receive an immediate response.
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