Invoking the FCC’s personal attack rule, a group of U.S. mayors Tuesday demanded equal airtime to respond to a pro-gun spot attacking them in a voice sounding like actor Martin Sheen’s but that really belongs to his actor brother, Joe Estevez.
The mayors, using Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo as their point man, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to lambaste the recent ad campaign of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) as inflammatory and deceptive.
The mayors are part of a lawsuit filed by 33 communities nationwide against the gun industry.
Cuomo and the mayors said a letter demanding that their response ad be given equal time has been sent to the outlets airing the NSSF spot. The ad was carried during the recent Republican and Democratic national conventions.
Sheen, who currently plays the president on NBC series “the West Wing,” will provide the voice of the response ad and, in a prepared statement, said it was a cheap shot to use his brother, leading viewers to think it was Sheen instead.
There is no question that it was indeed Estevez who did the ad. While lesser known than his brother, Estevez has numerous movie credits.
Sheen speaks out
“I want to set the record straight and place the gun makers’ despicable deception on notice,” Sheen said. “If the gun makers’ case is so just, why would they stoop to such shoddy and deceptive tactics including voice-identification theft? No one within the sound of my voice can question my personal commitment to nonviolence and social justice issues, including gun safety.”
The NSSF could not be reached for comment.
Under the Federal Communications Commission personal attack rule, stations must notify an individual or group when they are targeted in a broadcast.
A spokesperson for Cuomo said it is not the intent to place blame with the FCC, but that a formal complaint will be filed with the FCC if the stations carrying the NSSF ad don’t air the response ad.
Outlets including CNN, and local NBC and CBS affiliates in Philadelphia carried the NSSF promotion.
FCC officials could not be reached for comment.
The NSSF spot in question depicts a big-city mayor desecrating the American flag, with Estevez decrying “big-city mayors whose greedy lawyers are using your tax dollars to sue us for criminals they won’t prosecute,” according to Cuomo’s office.