U.S. Representative Jim Moran, a congressional Democrat who represents Alexandria, Virginia, called upon the Washington Metro Transit Authority to remove an advertisement from a subway stop which he believes defames President Barack Obama. The sign, which advertises a film called Sick and Sicker, reads "Barack Obama wants politicians and bureaucrats to control America's entire medical system. Go to hell Barack."
Congressman Moran told WMTA, "The specific language in the WMATA-approved ad that should be removed is not political, it's profane. It defames the President of the United States in a way that coarsens the public discourse. All Americans have the right to make their voice heard under the First Amendment. But when we are talking about an advertisement on tax-payer funded facilities, as is the case with Metro, it should meet the minimum standards of propriety. I repeat my call on WMATA to exercise appropriate judgment and remove this offensive ad."
For its part, WMATA issued a statement saying its advertising has been ruled by the courts as protected under the Constitution. Furthermore, WMTA says it does not decline ads based on their political content. "WMATA does not endorse the advertising on our system, and ads to not reflect the position of the Authority," says the statement.
Moran wrote in a February 29 letter to CEO Robert Sarles of WMTA "This ad is deeply disrespectful of the President of the United States and does not belong in the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMTA) network."
Speaking to local media, Congressman Moran said "I am disappointed by WMATA's defense of this inappropriate advertisement. If their current advertising guidelines do not prohibit profane advertisements on taxpayer-funded property, then WMATA should take the initiative and update them. Profanity has no place in the public forum."