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A Congressional Investigation of the NYT for its Move On Ad?

John on September 19, 2007 at 9:06 am

Rep. Tom Davis wrote to Henry Waxman asking for one. From CNSNews:

Dear Chairman Waxman:

I write to request that you convene a hearing on The New York Times’s possible in-kind political contribution to MoveOn.org in the form of a discounted advertising rate for its September 10, 2007 ad calling General David Petraeus “General Betray Us.” According to at least one published report, MoveOn.org admitted that it paid $65,000 for the ad while The New York Times admitted that the “open rate” for such an ad is $181,000. The discount for political advertising could constitute an unlawful campaign contribution.

The Committee should hold a hearing to examine whether the advertising rates and practices of media companies conceal unlawful campaign contributions. The difference between the “open rate” and the actual rate paid by MoveOn.org raises the possibility that The New York Times, as a media company not subject to campaign finance restrictions for its own messages, unlawfully subsidized the message of MoveOn.org by giving it a discounted rate for its advertisement.

The Committee should examine the following questions:

1. What was The New York Times advertising rate structure in effect at the time the ad was placed on September 10, 2007?

2. Was any other advertiser offered a similar rate for a full-age ad on that date or within 30 days immediately preceding the September 10, 2007 placement of the ad. What rates were they offered?

3. Why did MoveOn.org pay approximately one third of the “open rate?”

4. Are campaign finance laws that prohibit media companies from making campaign contributions with corporate funds in the form of discounts for political advertising enforceable?

The discounted rate, even if justified in some way under the rate structure in existence at the time the ad was placed, may only reflect the manipulation of rates to support political causes favored by a media company’s publishers. In its rulings on campaign finance laws, the Supreme Court has long recognized “the governmental interest in preventing corruption and the appearance of corruption.” Discounted rates for political advertisements give at least the appearance of corruption that campaign finance laws were intended to address.

I’m sure they’ll get right on it.

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Category: MSM & Bias |

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