Exposing the Times
...While there is rich irony in the Times exposure, there is an underlying sinister quality about a group that already has a rich platform for expressing their perverse views, offering a discount to a soul mate who smells as rank as MoveOn. Both the Times and MoveOn have a desperate desire for defeat of our troops in Iraq and of the President's policy in Iraq. They have both demonstrated that they are willing to say and do anything to achieve that unworthy objective. They both deserve something more than a fine from the FEC. Shame and decency are a stranger in their quest for defeat. It is unlikely that the fine will make much of a difference in their conduct.
In June, the Times was in high dudgeon -- it knows no other degree of dudgeon -- about the Supreme Court's refusal to affirm a far-reaching government power to suppress political speech. The court ruled that a small group of Wisconsin residents had been improperly refused the right to run an issue advocacy ad urging the state's two senators not to filibuster the president's judicial nominees.
Less than three months after the Times excoriated the court for weakening restrictions on issue ads, the paper made a huge and patently illegal contribution to MoveOn.org's issue advocacy ad. The American Conservative Union, under Chairman David Keene, immediately filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, noting that the purchaser of the ad, MoveOn.org Political Action, is a registered multicandidate political committee regulated by the mare's-nest of federal laws and rules the multiplication of which has so gladdened the Times.
Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., defending the decision to run the ad, said: "If we're going to err, it's better to err on the side of more political dialogue. . . . Perhaps we did err in this case. If we did, we erred with the intent of giving greater voice to people." Bauer notes that Sulzberger might have used words from a Supreme Court decision: "In a debatable case, the tie is resolved in favor of protecting speech." And: "Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor." So spoke Chief Justice John Roberts in the Wisconsin decision that Sulzberger's paper denounced because it would magnify the voices of, among other things, "wealthy corporations." The Times Co.'s 2006 revenue was $3.3 billion.
The Times' performance in this matter confirms an axiom: There can be unseemly exposure of mind as well as of body.