‘WSJ’ Backs ‘NYT’ on MoveOn Ad Controversy

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By: E&P Staff

When it comes to their editorial pages, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal could hardly be more different, but the latter has come to aid of the former in the controversy over that recent MoveOn.org ad attacking Gen. David Petraeus before his testimony to Congress.

The Journal essentially is standing up for a newspaper’s right to charge what it wants for ads — and allow a broad range of opinion in doing so.

Here is an excerpt from today’s Journal editorial page. It’s available in full at www.opinionjournal.com.

[W]e certainly defend the Times’s right to sign advertising contracts at whatever price it wants to charge–without the FEC combing through its books in search of rate discrepancies.

Unfortunately, the Times’s passion for regulating everyone else’s speech has now boomeranged, with politicians calling for an investigation into its favor to MoveOn. This is getting to be a bad Times habit: Recall its campaign for a special counsel to investigate media leaks that turned into a probe of its own sources and led to judicial rulings that limited press freedom.

House Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Tom Davis (R., Va.) wants hearings on whether the MoveOn discount represented a contribution in violation of campaign finance laws, and whether those laws are actually enforceable. Mr. Davis is indulging in some partisan opportunism here, and we wish instead that he was explaining that the problem is not that these organizations slipped through some campaign finance net. The problem is the net….

As for the Times’s ad discount, we also don’t see why it shouldn’t be as protected as the paper’s inevitable endorsement next year of Hillary Clinton for President. Won’t that be an “in-kind” political contribution worth at least a few thousand dollars?

The FEC deserves a pat on the back for backing away from media content oversight. But the real solution here is for the Supreme Court to rediscover its First Amendment principles and strike down campaign finance restrictions. As long as McCain-Feingold is on the books, regulators will be running around damming up leaks wherever they imagine they’ve found them. Sooner or later they’ll come after the press, as maybe the Times and other left-wingers are beginning to figure out.

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