Trump Campaign Sues Wisconsin TV Station

A source at WJFW-TV Rhinelander, Wisc., confirms a report that the Trump campaign legal team has sued the station. 

Related: Hill Dems Push Pai to Assert TV Licenses Not in Jeopardy 

That suit comes as TV stations large and smaller are trying to deal with a flood of COVID-19-related local news and a dearth of advertising support. 

The President's reelection campaign told TV stations to stop running an ad from Priorities USA (PUSA) Action Fund, a Democratic Super PAC, or they could face a lawsuit and the possible loss of their broadcast licenses.  

The campaign said that the ad, which combines audio of the President downplaying the seriousness of the virus at the outset, falsely says that Trump called the coronavirus a 'hoax.' 

In a letter to the stations airing the ad, the campaign said the ad was patently false and misleading, and pointed to various stories saying Trump did not call the virus a hoax, including in The Washington Post, an outlet Trump routinely calls fake, and ended with a threat: 

"[S]hould you fail to immediately cease broadcasting PUSA’s ad “Exponential Threat”, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. will have no choice but to pursue all legal remedies available to it in law and in equity; we will not stand idly by and allow you to broadcast false, deceptive, and misleading information concerning President’s Trump’s healthcare positions without consequence." 

WJFW-TV general manager Steve Shanks had not returned a call for comment at press time.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.