Belo's KHOU-TV Houston has pulled an ad that leveled allegations of corruption against beleaguered former Majority Leader Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas).
The decision came after it received a letter from DeLay's attorney claiming the allegations were not true.
While the letter did not overtly threaten a lawsuit, it cited case law supporting a defamation suit by a candidate against a station and said that "because the ad is false, we demand that you refuse or otherwise cease airing the advertisement so as to avoid any legal liability," according to KHOU General Manager Peter Diaz.
The station aired the ad once Wednesday morning (Jan. 11), then pulled it and will not air it again on Thursday as scheduled, said Diaz, who said that, after reviewing it, the station concluded that "some of the ad claims attributed to the personal actions of DeLay could not be clearly substantiated from the source material."
The ad, which links DeLay to, among other things, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, is currently running on cable systems in Houston, according to a spokesman for the groups.
The Campaign for America's Future and Public Campaign Action Fund are trying to buy ad time in Texas and Ohio for spots targeting both DeLay and Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) as they launch what they say will be a year-long effort "to expose congressional corruption."
According to Toby Chaudhuri, a spokesman for the groups, they approached eight outlets in Texas, four cable systems and four TV stations. They are running on the cable systems, he says, while two of the stations--KHOU being one of them--pulled the ads and two others are reviewing them.