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Bush ad irks FCC’s Tristani

Commission staff say no case for subliminal advertising

WASHINGTON — FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani, a Democrat, criticized the agency on Friday for dismissing allegations that George W. Bush’s campaign staff used subliminal advertising to attack Democratic opponent Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Political ad in question very briefly flashed the word “rats” as the soundtrack criticized Al Gore’s prescription drug plan.

Bush’s team pulled the ad within 48 hours.

In a letter sent earlier Friday to two Democratic senators, FCC staff said a review of 217 stations carrying the ad provided no case for subliminal advertising. The vast majority said they were not aware of the word “rats.”

Several stations said they clearly noticed the word “rats” when airing the campaign spot and thus did not perceive it as subliminal. Most said they believed that pulling the ad would have violated censorship rules.

“Based on our review of the responses submitted by the stations, we conclude that no further action is needed,” FCC enforcement bureau chief David Solomon said in the letter.

Tristani disagreed, saying there was ample proof that the stations were duped by the ad, not even noticing the word “rats.”

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