Groups Ask Major Networks to Put RNC on 1-Minute Time Delay to Prevent the Spread of Dangerous Disinformation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 24, 2020
CONTACT: Madison Donzis |

Coalition Cites RNC Speakers Record of Spreading Lies and Disinformation About COVID-19, Police Killings of Black People

WASHINGTON, DC — In a new letter sent directly to the heads of the major television news networks – ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC – a coalition of groups is calling for the Republican National Convention to be put on a 1-minute time delay to help prevent the spread of dangerous disinformation in real time.

The groups, including UltraViolet Action, ACRONYM, BlackPAC, Color of Change PAC, EMILY’s List WOMEN VOTE, Higher Heights Political Fund, MomsRising, NARAL Pro-Choice America, #ShePersisted and United We Dream cite that a number of scheduled speakers at the RNC have actively spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, police violence and abortion, and call on the networks airing the RNC to take proactive steps to stop the disinformation’s spread.


The letter, addressed to CNN President Jeffrey Zucker, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, ABC News President James Goldston, NBCUniversal President Noah Oppenheim and CBS President Joseph Ianniello says explains:

As our nation battles the dual crises of systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic, relying on the media for factual, life-saving information is crucial to the health of the American people and our democracy.

We need truthful information to stop the proliferation of disinformation that impedes the American public’s health and safety, and our democracy.

Starting on Monday, August 24th and running through Thursday, August 27th, your network will air the Republican National Convention’s programming. We recognize that you have a responsibility for the fundamental importance of giving equal time to both major political parties, but we request that you put the Republican National Convention’s programming on a 1-minute time delay, so that your network can actively fact check and debunk dangerous disinformation in real time and stop it from spreading. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS have previously cut away or run fact-checks in real-time during coronavirus briefings, and this should be no different. The potential risk of unfiltered disinformation emanating in real time, via your network, to millions of homes around the country, is too great.

We have already seen Americans die due to disinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic and the search for a treatment. We have also seen an increase in hate crimes, police brutality, and racial injustice due to inflammatory and racist disinformation on the news.

The letter explains how a number of scheduled RNC speakers have a documented track record of spreading disinformation about a variety of topics. Beyond Donald Trump, who has reportedly spread disinformation more then 20,000 times since becoming President, the letter points to Abby Johnson, who has spread unfounded conspiracies about Planned Parenthood, Mark and Patricia McCloskey who spread lies about the Black Lives Matter movement on Fox News, and Sen. Jodi Ernst (R-IA) who compared the coronavirus to the flu and pushed a debunked conspiracy theory that the virus was developed on purpose in a lab in China.

The letter concludes:

The best way to combat the spread of disinformation is to stop it at its source. By putting the Republican National Convention on a one-minute time delay, your network will be able to actively correct disinformation in real time, and prevent the American people from being lied to on your airwaves. The future of our country, our people and our democracy are at stake.


“We have seen throughout history how false theories and misinformation have been used to justify oppression and racism if they are not countered and debunked in real time,” explained Kimberly Peeler-Allen, Director, Higher Heights Political Fund. “The rhetoric that is anticipated to come from the RNC will put lives in danger whether it is misinformation about COVID-19 or language that can be used to justify attacks on Black and brown people. We strongly implore all of the major networks to institute a time delay and fact checking because it can and will save lives.”

“The Republican National Convention is going to be a disinformation cesspool, filled with toxic misogyny, virulent racism, and flat out lies about the coronavirus pandemic. We can’t stop the networks from airing it, but we can ask that they do their part to correct disinformation in real time and help stop its spread,” explained Bridget Todd, spokesperson for UltraViolet Action. “CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS have previously cut away or run fact-checks in real-time during coronavirus briefings, and this should be no different. By putting the Republican National Convention on a one-minute time delay, networks will be able to actively correct disinformation and prevent the American people from being lied to in real time. We’ve seen what happens when disinformation is allowed to spread unchecked, and the risks are just too great.”

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