NBC has reacted swiftly against Mitt Romney's latest campaign ad, a highly effective spot consisting of a single, unedited clip of Tom Brokaw reporting the results of Gingrich's 1997 ethics probe on the NBC Nightly News.
A statement released by NBC News states:
“The NBC Legal Department has written a letter to the campaign asking for the removal of all NBC News material from their campaign ads … Similar requests have gone out to other campaigns that have inappropriately used Nightly News, Meet the Press, Today and MSNBC material."
Brokaw also released a statement, in which he expressed dismay at having become the unwitting face of the latest Romney attack strategy:
“I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad. I do no want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign,” Brokaw said today.
The Gingrich campaign offered their own condemnation of the spot, saying his name was cleared in 1999. From ABC News:
“The Romney campaign is up with another false ad attacking Speaker Gingrich. This time their false ad shows news coverage from 1997 after the House of Representatives voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich,” the statement said. “What the Romney campaign is hoping the American people don’t remember is that in 1999, the IRS cleared Speaker Gingrich of the substance of the ethics committee investigation.”
What the statement fails to mention is that while the Internal Revenue Service ruled in favor of the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the private foundation associated with Gingrich and accused of breaking multiple tax laws, the ruling did not directly exonerate Gingrich. As reported then by The New York Times, the ruling only "suggests" that Gingrich "did not illegally use tax-exempt money for political purposes, one of the main accusations against him." House Ethics Committee special counsel James M. Cole was cited at the time as saying the IRS's finding "had not changed his opinion that Mr. Gingrich had broken the tax law."
And the Romney campaign? Their official stance is that they have yet to receive any cease-and-desist notices from NBC. Staffers seem to be energized by the controversy, however: Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweeted, "Watch the @MittRomney ad that has everyone abuzz here! http://mi.tt/zn4wR3 #Mitt2012" earlier this morning.