Three Democratic Party committees on Monday protested the refusal of the streaming service Hulu to run several campaign ads denouncing Republican policies ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, with the Disney-owned company saying the content of the ads was too "sensitive" and "controversial."
As The Washington Post reported, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) made attempted ad buys with the streaming service on July 15 for ads regarding gun control policy and abortion rights.
One ad said the overturning of Roe v. Wade is part of a "coordinated Republican attack on abortion" and warned that Republicans "will not stop at overturning 'Roe'" and will continue working to impose a nationwide ban on abortion care—which GOP lawmakers and pro-forced birth activists have stated.
The ad focusing on gun control included statistics on gun violence and said, "Republicans are more devoted to the gun lobby than taking common-sense action to make our kids safe."
The DSCC accused Hulu of imposing "shady" ad policies, which vaguely bar ads including "controversial" content.
Hulu told the committees after delaying the airing of the ads that there were "content related" issues, but did not explain the ultimate decision not to run them.
"Americans deserve to know the truth about these issues, and Hulu has no right to block it," tweeted the DSCC Monday as it shared the ads on social media.
Democratic candidate Suraj Patel, who is running for the U.S. House in New York's 12th District, was also told by Hulu officials that a campaign ad he submitted to the platform violated an "unwritten Hulu policy" and that its subject matter was too "sensitive" to show Hulu viewers.
The ad showed footage of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and discussed Republican climate, abortion, and gun policies.
"To not discuss these topics in my campaign ad is to not address the most important issues facing the United States," Patel told Hulu officials in a letter earlier this month. "We are at an absolutely critical time in our nation's history. How are voters supposed to make informed choices if their candidates cannot talk about the most important issues of the day?"
"The issues of abortion, guns, climate change, and our democracy are not topics to be discussed in quite hushed speech outside of the reach of the electorate," he added. "These are topics the American people expect to hear from their leaders, and they are issues that are going to define the next several decades. Americans deserve to know their leaders stand on them."
The Democratic committees and their supporters are expressing anger both over Hulu's refusal to air the ads and its failure to make its ad policies clear.
"It's one thing to have a bad policy. It's another to have a policy so bad you won't even put it in writing," said Isaac Rappoport, digital campaign services director for the DGA. "Hulu's censorship is dangerous and anti-democratic, and they need to answer for it."
Democratic strategist Matt McDermott called Hulu's decision "an absolute scandal" and pointed out that the streaming platform is "one of the most impactful platforms for advertising to young voters."
"By blocking ads on issues like climate change and abortion," said McDermott, "Hulu is effectively censoring Democrats from engaging a massive swath of voters on the most critical issues facing our country."