NBC, Tom Brokaw ask Romney to take down ad made with news footage

ORLANDO, Fla. — Mitt Romney may have hoped that by featuring former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw in his new campaign ad, he could lend to his attacks on Newt Gingrich the credence of one of the country's most eminent journalists. But both Brokaw and NBC are objecting to the ad, and asking Romney's campaign to take it down.

The ad released Saturday consists entirely of a single clip of a single clip of Brokaw reading the top of the broadcast on Jan. 21, 1997, the day the House voted to reprimand former House Speaker on ethics charges.

“Good evening. Newt Gingrich, who came to power, after all, preaching a higher standard in American politics, a man who brought down another Speaker on ethics accusations, tonight he has on his own record the judgment of his peers, Democrat and Republican alike," Brokaw says in the clip used in the ad.


He continues to inform viewers that House members voted overwhelmingly to find Gingrich guilty of ethics violations and levy a stiff financial penalty, raising questions in the process about whether Gingrich could lead the country effectively in the future.

"I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad," Brokaw said in a statement. "I do no want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign."

NBC's legal department said it had written a letter to Romney's campaign asking that it remove all NBC News material from the campaign's ads. NBC added that it has issued similar requests when other campaigns have "inappropriately used Nightly News, Meet the Press, Today and MSNBC material."

Romney's campaign said they were reviewing the letter, but that they believed it fell under the "fair use" exception to U.S. copyright law. The campaign declined to say whether it would pull the ad.

The Romney ad is part of a concerted effort by his campaign to portray Gingrich, his top rival for the GOP nomination, as an erratic, unhinged and ethically challenged leader. 

Romney said in a Florida debate last week that Gingrich "had to resign in disgrace" from Congress, and he has tried to use Gingrich's forceful and extemporaneous style against him by implying it would make him a reckless and unpredictable president.

Romney's campaign also debuted a new Twitter hashtag to accompany the television spot: #Newtorious.

- This post was posted at 11:38 a.m. and has been updated.