Former WNEP anchor gets ready to drop his first campaign ad

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Former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania morning anchor Tom Williams gave his Facebook followers a preview of his upcoming campaign ads for his run for state representative.

Williams left WNEP March 18, 2022 and later announced he was running as a Republican for the 119th District seat in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

The new ad preview he posted publicly to his personal Facebook account shows a commercial that incorporates a brief clip of him anchoring the news at WNEP.

The station’s bug has been cut off, partially thanks to the old-style TV graphic that frames the clip. There is also no audio from the newscast used, though the message is clear: Williams is a familiar face who viewers welcomed into their home for years.

There’s also an on-camera shot of him standing in front of a weathered wood American flag background speaking directly to viewers before the spot switches to him standing in front of an image of the state flag and doing the all-too-familiar news anchor arm cross move that’s so often used in talent reopens.

Using clips from local newscasts in political ads is sometimes a risky move, particularly there’s a clip of an anchor or reporter making a statement that appears, at least in the context of the ad, to be supporting a particular candidate or reporting negatively about his or her opponent.

Some stations will reach out to candidates and ask those clips to be removed from ads. Most stations have policies against news personnel making public statements about political candidates and it’s often easy for campaigns to find clips that, when edited correctly, appear to imply some kind of support by the anchor or reporter.

Williams’ subtle use of a WNEP clip might not cause much trouble, however, given that it’s only used briefly, has no audio and also rather small, making it difficult to make out that he’s on the WNEP set — and given the unavoidable fact that at least part of his run is based on him being a well known personality in the area.