A seemingly innocuous “get well soon” public message to the President and First Lady was denied placement on a digital billboard located in New York City’s Theater District yesterday. The sign hangs above the Ripley’s Believe it or Not building, located on 42nd Street near Times Square.
Scott Adams, of Red State Talk Radio (image of actual sign at issue is depicted in link), the media group which has the space in question secured on the billboard and was seeking to place the public service message on behalf of a third party, said that the reason given for denying the advertisement is that the no “political ads” were being accepted. The ad itself, depicted above, contained no political endorsement nor was it affiliated with the President’s campaign.
South Dakota’s Stephanie Lien D’Urso, the woman whose organization, Magahearts, was behind the idea and design of the digital board said she was shocked and saddened when she heard the news that the signage would not be permitted (a total display time of two minutes per hour, according to Adams). “Are my children really facing a world where you may not be allowed to pay to have kindhearted messages of prayer and support for an ill American President and First Lady,” she said. “When did we lose our freedom to act as kind human beings with nothing but good intentions in our hearts?”
While Lien D’Urso is politically active, she says that this particular message was not intended to be partisan. “The message was a simple one of prayers and well wishes for our First Family,” she said. D’Urso quoted the late Dr. Martin Luther King in saying “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. There is simply far too much hate and darkness in our country today.”
For his part, Adams says that Red State has not typically had any trouble in posting “conservative” messages on the board, but he believes the name of Donald Trump has become too great a flashpoint, no matter the purpose of display. “While I understand ownership not wanting to post political content above a commercial tourist business, I also think it is tragic that we have devolved to the point in America where sending someone a get well wish from a serious illness is considered political.”
Adams also speculated as to whether or not the same sort of rebuke would have been issued to a group posting a similar message posted by a group wishing Joe Biden well if the situation were reversed.
Stephanie Lien D’Urso is the founder of ThankYouTrump.com, a site dedicated to letting people donate both personal messages and funds for the future Trump Presidential Library. She has also recently founded Magahearts.com in an effort to elevate the tone and tenor of political discourse by encouraging supporters of the President’s message to “take the high road” in all their engagements with those arguing a different position.
“There are a lot of misconceptions created by the media and social activists about what the supporters of the president are really like,” D’Urso states. The first of Magahearts 21 “rules” reads: Go out and show them the truth about what is truly in the hearts of Trump supporters. Play offense against the false narrative about MAGA patriots.
The Ripley’s signage is managed by Lamar Advertising and controlled by the Ripley’s Entertainment Company, based domestically out of Orlando, Florida and funded by Canada’s Jim Pattison Group, an international holding company with diverse business interests based out of Vancouver. Ripley’s New York VP of Marketing & Sales, Stacy Shuster, politely and happily responded to Human Events’ inquiry concerning the rejection of the Magahearts’ sign.
“Bottom line is that we are a family entertainment company,” Shuster said. “We have given instructions to Lamar that we do not want political messaging on our board. In this case, they did bring the proposed sign content to our attention. We decided that it was not something that was appropriate for us to display given our policy.”
This story comes on the heels of Facebook announcing last week it would ban “certain” political ads that called into question the legitimacy of the results of the upcoming national election. It also banned ads by the Trump campaign relating to illegal immigration and the spread of the China virus.
Actions like the one in this story and that of Facebook seeming to selectively ban certain political adds can call into question the motivation of the acting party. The question to examine in each instance is whether or not the action taken seems to be one of legitimate non-partisanship, or a simple attempt to suppress opposing opinions?