The White House yesterday asked three local television stations to stop airing a Washington Star commercial that included a "Donnesbury" drawing of the White House and vocal impersonations of the president and Amy Carter.
A White House attorney charged that the ad "used the president for commerical exploitation, to increase the circulation of The Washington Star."
The stations declined to pull the ad.
The commercial, used to publicize the transfer of "Doonesbury" from The Washington Post of The Star, shows "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau's drawing of the White House while an actor's voice, imitating the president, expresses dismay at his failure "to find 'Doonesbury' in this paper."
A little girl's voice pipes up with the phrase "Here, Daddy," and the information that "Doonesbury" has moved to The Star.
"The president's been lookin' in the wrong paper," concludes in presidential voice.
According to White House senior associate counsel Mike Cardozo, the White House began receiving calls Monday protesting the ad. After reviewing a tape of the commercial, Cardozo asked The Star to withdraw it. When The Star said no, Cardozo then called WRC [Channel 4], WJLA [Channel 7] and WDVM [channel 9]. WRC and WDVM turned him down, said Cardozo, and WJLA announced on its news show last night that it, too, had rejected the request.
"There is a longstanding White House policy of not only refusing permission but of actively discouraging commercial exploitation of the White House and the president," said Cardozo. He cited "many such cases" in which the Carter White House has requested the withdrawal of advertising.
Recently, he said, The Los Angeles Times withdrew an ad for the movie "The Children of Sanchez" which quoted the president.
Reached at his home last night, Washington Star Publisher George Hoyt said 'We were surprised that the question [of exploitation] was raised after the spot had been running eight days. We began running it on the 24th." The ad is scheduled to run through July 8. "On the basis of a review of his request," said Hoyt, "we decided to make no change in the advertising . . . 'Doonesbury' has been associate with the White House since Trudeau created the strip. Therefore we feel there was no exploitation."
Cardozo said the White House would not pursue the matter but added that the stations had asked the National Association of Broadcasters to look into it.