Originally created 02/23/03

Opponents of war in Iraq have trouble getting their message on TV

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Ben and Jerry want you.

"Take it from a couple of old ice cream guys," Jerry Greenfield says in a recent TV ad arguing against war in Iraq. "Demonstrate. Act."

On the screen below Greenfield and his partner Ben Cohen, a disclaimer makes clear that their former ice cream company and Unilever, the conglomerate that bought it from the hippie capitalists three years ago, aren't involved in the campaign.

The ad is one of six made recently for a coalition of peace groups including Cohen and Greenfield's, TrueMajority. Others appearing in the ads are a retired rear admiral, a Methodist bishop, and entertainers including Susan Sarandon and Mos Def.

But the ads have been rejected by the major TV networks, and had a mixed reception among local cable operators.

Network representatives generally cite standing policies against running advocacy ads.

"CNN does not take advocacy ads related to regions in conflict," said spokesman Jim Weiss.

Cohen and Greenfield say their message would counter the air time devoted to Bush administration pronouncements about the likely need for war.

"We're not able to get fair coverage editorially," Cohen said. "If we can't get it editorially, then we'll have to buy time to get our message across. Now even if you buy time, they're refusing to let us get our message across."

Weiss said Cohen appeared recently on the network's "TalkBack Live" program "to discuss his group and their mission. So while we don't accept their ad or their advertising dollars, we did allow their voice to be heard."

After CNN, which is owned by AOL-Time Warner, rejected TrueMajority's request to buy national ad time, a Time Warner local cable system in New York agreed to run them, but then pulled two of the four spots, said Duane Peterson, a longtime associate of Cohen and Greenfield.

A Time Warner cable spokesman, who declined to be identified, said he believed only one of the ads had been rejected, before it ran, for reasons of taste.

The ads, which show still photographs and video of war casualties, were deemed too graphic, Cohen said.

An allied group, MoveOn.org, last month made its own anti-war ad, a remake of the famous "Daisy" commercial that aired during the 1964 presidential campaign and sought to paint Republican nominee Barry Goldwater as an extremist likely to lead the country into nuclear war. The ad depicted a girl plucking petals from a daisy - along with a missile launch countdown and a nuclear mushroom cloud.

TrueMajority's other efforts to get their message out include print ads and a campaign to send e-mails to members of Congress.

Cohen also said opponents of a war in Iraq are wearing blue ribbons, the United Nations' color.

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