UPDATE: On Thursday evening Seattle’s Metro Transit reversed its ban and decided to allow the “Buy American” ads to be posted on city buses. “Upon further evaluation, the text of the ad does not express an opinion about a public issue,” said General Manager Kevin Desmond in a statement released to the Seattle Fox television affiliate.
Following is our original story:
Seattle’s public transit system is under fire for rejecting an advertising campaign urging people to buy American and shop locally because it was too political.
“It was a shock to us,” said Richard Tso, executive director of TAP America, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization.
The rejected ads read: “December is Buy American Month, Shop Locally, Join Seattle’s TAPamerica.org.”
Tso said his organization was prepared to pay as much as $9,000 for the ads to be posted on 45 Metro buses running through major shopping districts in downtown Seattle and Bellevue, WA.
“The ads were rejected by King County as being too political,” Tso told Fox News & Commentary, wondering if the county was simply being politically correct.
“Buy American should never be a bad word,” he said. “Those are words we should have pride in as citizens of the United States.”
But county officials told the Seattle Times that they have a policy against ads that express a viewpoint on “matters of public debate about political, religious or social issues.”
“The concept of ‘Buy American’ is an issue of both political and economic debate,” spokeswoman Linda Thielkein wrote in an email to the newspaper.
Tso said government officials were being “hypersensitive” and said they currently “run ads that seem to be quite controversial.”
“I think the ‘Buy American’ message is something that would resonate with more people,” he said. “that shows you the state of where we are as a nation.”
The Seattle Times reported that the bus agency adopted a strict advertising policy after a controversy over another group that tried to purchase ads alleging “Israeli war crimes.”
Tso said he hopes the county will reconsider their ban on the ‘Buy American’ ads.