NBC will not re-air President Trump's 'insensitive' immigration ad that ran on 'Sunday Night Football'

Once again, the NFL finds itself at the center of political drama. But this time, the league and its players aren’t directly involved.

During Sunday night’s marquee game between the Green Bay Packers andNew England Patriots, NBC ran a 30-second version of a highly controversial Republican-oriented political ad that, without evidence, implies a link between immigration and crime. The ad, endorsed by President Donald Trump, was designed to fire up fears of a migrant caravan headed toward the United States in advance of Tuesday’s midterm elections. CNN had refused to run the ad, declaring it “racist,” but NBC opted to air it during “Sunday Night Football,” a program that’s regularly the most watched in America every week.

Monday morning, NBC backpedaled, saying in a statement that “after further review we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible.”

“Sunday Night Football” is one of NBC’s preeminent properties, and the Packers-Patriots game was the most-watched primetime show on any channel since March. The NFL’s ratings have rebounded from their recent lows, and “SNF” continues to lead that charge, as the network notes:

So it’s obvious why, from a breadth-of-reach perspective, the ad aired on Sunday night. Given that the ad has already aired to a huge audience and midterm elections are only two days away, “ceasing to air” the ad for “insensitive” reasons would seem to be a case of locking the barn door long after the horse galloped out in front of millions of viewers, but the fact that NBC is taking even this small, late stand marks a precedent for the 2020 elections.

18 PHOTOS
A day in the life of the migrant caravan in Mexico
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A day in the life of the migrant caravan in Mexico
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, takes a rest on the road, as she walks to Pijijiapan from Mapastepec, Mexico, October 25, 2018. Picture taken October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, rests on the road with her son Adonai, as they make their way to Pijijiapan from Mapastepec, Mexico, October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File photo SEARCH "GLENDA ESCOBAR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, plays with her son Adonai in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, sleeps in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, poses for a photograph with her children Adonai and Denzel in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, smiles as she rests in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, poses with her son Denzel, 8, as they rest in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, rests in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, rests on the road with her son Denzel as they walk to Pijijiapan from Mapastepec, Mexico, October 25, 2018. Picture taken October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, prepares the sleeping place after arriving at a makeshift camp with her sons Adonai and Denzel, in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Denzel, 8, holds his brother Adonai, 5, near their mother Glenda Escobar, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, as they walk to Pijijiapan from Mapastepec, Mexico, October 25, 2018. Picture taken October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, prepares the sleeping place after arriving at a makeshift camp with her sons Adonai and Denzel, in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, cries after talking on the phone, in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, rests on the road, on her way to Pijijiapan from Mapastepec, Mexico, October 25, 2018. Picture taken October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, poses for a photograph as she rests in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, takes a ride in a vintage car with her children Adonai and Denzel, as they walk to Pijijiapan from Mapastepec, Mexico, October 25, 2018. Picture taken October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Adonai, 5, son of Glenda Escobar, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, smiles as he rests in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Mexico October 28, 2018. Picture taken October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Glenda Escobar, 33, a migrant from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, prepares the sleeping place after arriving at a makeshift camp with her children Adonai and Denzel, in Pijijiapan, Mexico, October 25, 2018. Picture taken October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
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Ad’s controversial and false claims

The 30-second ad used the story of Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented Mexican immigrant convicted of murdering two Sacramento, California, police officers in 2014, to stoke fears about what the migrant caravan could bring to America. There’s no indication, however, that Brancamontes has any connection with the caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the U.S. border. A longer version of the ad, not run on NBC, included the false claim that Democrats “let [Brancamontes] into our country” and “let him stay.”

Debra Messing, star of NBC’s “Will and Grace,” took to Twitter to express her outrage about the ad:

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, had criticized CNN for not running the ad, saying “I guess they only run fake news and won’t talk about real threats that don’t suit their agenda.” CNN responded by noting that the network “has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist. When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined.”

NBC is likely to catch similar heat from Republican advocates for pulling the ad. However, it’s worth remembering why the ad was on NBC at all: to get a message out to the largest possible audience … which, let’s not forget, is the exact same reason NFL players chose the national anthem as the venue for their protests. Sports and politics are and always have been intertwined; the only question is whether you as a fan agree with the messages.

Related: See photos from Sunday's game: 

18 PHOTOS
Sunday Night Football: Patriots host, beat Packers
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Sunday Night Football: Patriots host, beat Packers
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 4: New England Patriots' Adrian Clayborn sacks Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers during the fourth quarter. The New England Patriots host the Green Bay Packers in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Nov. 4, 2018. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts as he holds his right wrist during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Antonio Morrison #44 of the Green Bay Packers tackles Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Kyle Van Noy #53 of the New England Patriots tackles Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers during the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots signals for a touchdown during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Adrian Clayborn #94 of the New England Patriots celebrates after sacking Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers (not pictured) during the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Jaire Alexander #23 of the Green Bay Packers is assisted by training staff during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots throws the ball during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: James White #28 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Bashaud Breeland #26 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with teammates after breaking up a pass in the end zone during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 4: New England Patriots' Cordarrelle Patterson sails into the end zone with a second quarter five yard rushing touchdown. The New England Patriots host the Green Bay Packers in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Nov. 4, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 4: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) gets a hand from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, right, as the clock was running down in the New England victory over the Packers. The New England Patriots host the Green Bay Packers in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Nov. 4, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 4: New England Patriots' Julian Edelman cannot hold onto this pass with defensive pressure from the Packers' Jaire Alexander (23) and Blake Martinez during the first quarter. The New England Patriots host the Green Bay Packers in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Nov. 4, 2018. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots high fives Brian Hoyer #2 and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers after the Patriots defeated the Packers 31-17 at Gillette Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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