Eight former Federal Elections Commissioners today blasted proponents of a Senate bill that would "blunt" the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, which allowed unions and corporations to spend freely on political advertisements.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Commissioners called the bill "unnecessary, partially duplicative of existing law, and severely burdensome to the right to engage in political speech and advocacy." They also accused Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. -- sponsors of the Senate and House legislation, respectively -- of "partisan motives" designed to satiate the Democratic Party's labor union backers.
While some prominent news organizations, including the Washington Post, have raised serious concerns about the legislation, other ostensibly (or at least presumably) pro-free speech news outlets are either silent or, in the case of the New York Times, simply parrot Democratic talking points and give critics of the bill a mention, though not a voice, and make sure to dub them "the business lobby."
Today's New York Times makes its editorial priorities clear: It values free speech for violent video games, but not on the issues of the day.
Thursday's editorial, "Video Games and Free Speech," was launched by news the Supreme Court would review a California law that makes it illegal to sell violent video games to minors:
But video games are a form of free expression. Many have elaborate plots and characters, often drawn from fiction or history. The California law is a content-based restriction, something that is presumed invalid under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has made it clear that minors have First Amendment rights....California lawmakers may have been right when they decided that video games in which players kill and maim are not the most socially beneficial form of expression. The Constitution, however, does not require speech to be ideal for it to be protected.
Too bad the Times doesn't hold the First Amendment in such high regard when it comes to truly important speech: political speech on issues of the day, the most vital kind there is in a democracy.
A January 22 editorial termed the Supreme Court's victory for expanding free speech, in the form of loosening restrictions on companies spending money on political campaigns, "The Court's Blow to Democracy." The text was no less hysterical:
Monday evening, Tonight Show host Jay Leno joked about Wall Street reform. As reported on The New York Times's Web site, he said:
Last week, President Obama gave a speech in New York City about his plan to reform these rules on Wall Street, you know? And one embarrassing moment. When the head of Goldman Sachs was going through security, he was asked to empty his pockets and five Republican senators fell out.
The truth, of course, is that Goldman Sachs has consistently given much more money to Democrats than to Republicans. For the 2008 election cycle, as detailed at OpenSecrets.org, 75 percent of the almost $6 million in political contributions made by the investment bank's political action committee and employees went to Democrats. Goldman Sachs's donations made it the second-biggest contributor to Obama’s presidential election campaign.
Leno's gag would have been funnier, I think, if it weren't so misleading.
President Obama has extensive ties to Goldman Sachs. Yet even given record-breaking financial contributions and sketchy relationships between Goldman executives and Obama officials at the highest level, the mainstream media will not afford Obama the same scrutiny it gave to George W. Bush during the collapse of Enron.
Obama's inflation-adjusted $1,007,370.85 in contributions from Goldman employees is almost seven times as much as the $151,722.42 (also inflation-adjusted) that Bush received from Enron. Goldman was one of the chief beneficiaries of the TARP bailout package -- supported by then-Senator Obama -- and has been a force for -- not against -- Democratic financial "reform" proposals currently under Senate consideration.
Despite the extensive connections between President Obama and Goldman Sachs, the same media that vaguely alleged unseemly connections between the Bush administration and Enron after its 2001 collapse have barely noticed the Obama administration's prominent ties to Goldman (h/t J.P. Freire).
In Howard Fineman's mind, the real "sordid" story behind the now infamous RNC/Voyeur Club kerfuffle is not the inappropriateness of the venue or the expensing of the outing on the donors' dime, but the whole system of raising money from large-dollar private donors in the first place.
Talk about bondage. It feels like we are in thrall to cash and the pursuit of it as never before. I know senators in both parties who spend every spare minute in the soul-shrinking exercise of dialing for dollars. Donors are just as trapped. Once they're on a list, they're on every list.
Fineman went on to add a new boilerplate complaint from the Left as well as to mourn the demise of the media's favorite Republican "campaign finance reformer":
The mainstream media are having a field day with the Republican National Committee spending contributor dollars for "meals" at a risqué Hollywood night spot. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joins in the fun with today's "RNC spends nearly $2,000 at sex-themed Voyeur nightclub." He provides titillating details of what transpires in that joint, and then attempts a quick rewrite of history with, "And Al Gore got in trouble for going to a Buddhist temple?"
That's seriously misleading. It wasn't going to a Buddhist temple in April of 1996 that got Gore into trouble. It was lying about illegally raising money there that raised questions and generated skepticism about Gore's truthfulness. And, in the end, he didn't really get into any serious trouble at all. As reported by the New York Times in August, 2000:
For the third time, Attorney General Janet Reno brushed off the advice of senior advisers and declined to intensify an investigation into Vice President Al Gore's fundraising activities in 1996.
She said she would not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mr. Gore's sworn statements that neither his appearance at a Buddhist temple in California in 1986 nor his attendance at several White House coffee sessions were fundraisers.
The Media Institute, a Washington-based non-profit, has called on Keith Olbermann to apologize for comparing one of its Jewish staff members to a Nazi collaborator.
During a January 21 screed regarding the controversial Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission -- in which the Supreme Court granted all companies the same rights as MSNBC's parent company GE -- Olbermann called the Media Institute's Floyd Abrams, a Jew, "the Quisling of freedom of speech in this country."
Vidkun Quisling, for those who don't know, was a Norwegian Nazi collaborator who aided in the Third Reich's conquest of his country by disclosing vital defense information to the Nazis. If Benedict Arnold had been complicit in genocide, we might consider Quisling his Norwegian equivalent.
In his "Notebook" segment at the end of the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC Wednesday, anchor David Shuster took a moment to commemorate the passing of a "hero" of his, well-known liberal advocate Doris 'Granny D' Haddock, a staunch supporter of campaign finance reform.
Shuster celebrated how she "at the age of 89...decided to walk across the nation....All in all, 3,200 miles to underscore her message that we need to change our current campaign donation system and have publicly financed elections instead." He proclaimed that Haddock "was committed to fair and open democracy" and declared her to be "an American treasure" for her activism.
Granny D was certainly a media hero back in March of 2000, when she completed her cross-country walk for campaign finance reform in Washington D.C.. On the March 1 broadcast of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer excitedly announced: "I love Granny D!" Then co-host, now CBS Evening News anchor, Katie Couric, followed Lauer's exuberance, calling her an "amazing role model" and adding: "She's great!"
Really Barbra Streisand, you didn't think anyone would check?
Perhaps she is worried about having her influence diminished now that there are players on the block that can match her wealth and then some. But Streisand in a 682-word screed published on the Huffington Post on Feb. 23 railed against "entrenched special interests" that can now give money to political campaigns.
"Over the last year, however, frustration has given way to anger as voters have witnessed the inability of our lawmakers to make progress on issues like health care reform, financial regulation, and energy policy," Streisand wrote. "This inaction is due to a tidal wave of big money from the health insurance industry, Big Oil, and giant financial institutions who have mobilized to challenge the people's mandate for change. These entrenched special interests have slowed, compromised and blocked important legislation leaving many Americans demoralized and outraged. I'm one of those people."
Update - 7:15 PM | Lachlan Markay: The questions from the poll phrase the issue in similarly misleading language. Details below.
The news media have a tremendous potential to shape public opinion. So when they misreport important events, it has significant consequences for public opinion and public policy.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows that 80 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision last month. Perhaps if the Post stopped misleading its readers about the decision as it did today in reporting the poll, public opinion would look differently.
The misinformation begins right in the lede, where reporter Dan Eggen claims the SCOTUS decision "allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns." That statement is utterly false. The decision allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited dollars on political advertising. Restrictions on campaign contributions are still in place.
The left is up in arms over the Supreme Court's recent decision in "Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission". But few voices have been louder than those emanating from the echo chamber at MSNBC. It seems that the cable network's talking heads feel that their parent company, General Electric, deserves a special exemption to what should be a blanket ban on unrestricted corporate speech.
First a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court decision. The court struck down in a 5-4 ruling a ban on corporate (or union) spending on political speech specifically endorsing or attacking a candidate for office within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. It ruled that the ban violated the First Amendment.
Few liberals seemed to notice that in attacking corporate speech they were also effectively undermining their own employers, media corporations who employs them for the express purpose of engaging in political speech. Surely Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would defend MSNBC's right to speak (and spend) freely without interference from the federal government--especially in the run-up to an election when free speech is most important and must be protected.
James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal found a liberal who cheered the recent Supreme Court decision on freedom of political speech: Floyd Abrams, an attorney who represented the New York Times successfully in the Pentagon Papers case in the 1970s. (He’s also the father of former MSNBC executive and host Dan Abrams). In the Journal's Weekend Inteview, Abrams told Taranto it’s ironic that so many media entities support freedom of speech for their companies, but not for non-media companies:
The First Amendment is the lifeblood of the press. Yet most newspapers—the one you are reading is a notable exception—take an editorial position similar to that of the Times. Why? "I think that two things are at work," Mr. Abrams says. "One is that there are an awful lot of journalists that do not recognize that they work for corporations....
The guy has an hour-long television show that isn't the highest-rated program on cable television, but does fairly well considering the circumstances. Yet, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who has expressed his own "unhinged" anger about the Supreme Court ruling that corporations have a free speech right to participate in elections, says there is a deficiency of anger about the ruling.
Olbermann, on the Jan. 22 "Countdown," launched into another one of his abbreviated tirades, or what he calls is a "Quick Comment" and blasted his colleagues in the media for not being as "enlightened" as he thinks they should be.
"I worked full-time in sports for about 20 years and I've worked full- time in news for about 10 years," Olbermann said. "And after yesterday, I must finally say aloud what I have long thought but have been reluctant to voice. The average person in the American news industry appears to be about one-fifth as plugged into the world he or she covers, as does the average person in the American sports industry.
Quip of the day, from columnist Charles Krauthammer on Friday's (January 22) Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC. Baier wondered: “Conservatives, pretty good week?” Krauthammer affirmed:
You know, this is an amazing week. Massachusetts goes Republican, health care dies and the Supreme Court unshackles the First Amendment. It's the best week I've had since spring break in medical school -- and I don't even remember it [laughter from other panelists].
And there was another item which you mentioned: Air America, the liberal talk show network went out of business -- which is a redundancy because nobody was listening anyway.
As the nation's leading newspaper and a beneficiary of the American tradition of free expression, the New York Times would of course celebrate a First Amendment victory at the Supreme Court, right? Well, not exactly.
Friday's lead slot was dominated by the Supreme Court's expected but still momentous decision rejecting limits on corporate campaign spending in elections.
But the subhead to Adam Liptak's story, "Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Campaign Spending Limit," ignored the victory for free speech in favor of dour liberal fears: "Dissenters Argue That Ruling Will Corrupt Democracy."
Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment's most basic free speech principle -- that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.
Even more unhinged than usual, and that’s saying a lot, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann delivered a tirade Thursday night in a “Special Comment” in which he declared the Supreme Court’s ruling, that corporations have a free speech right to participate in elections, was “a decision that might actually have more dire implications than Dred Scott.” High on sanctimony, Olbermann charged:
This is a Supreme Court-sanctioned murder of what little actual democracy is left in this democracy. It is government of the people by the corporations for the corporations. It is the Dark Ages. It is our Dred Scott.
In full paranoia, Olbermann warned: “Be prepared, then, for the ban on same-sex marriage, on abortion, on evolution, on separation of church and state....for racial and religious profiling, because you've got to blame somebody for all the reductions in domestic spending and civil liberties, just to make sure the agitators against the United Corporate States of America are kept unheard.”
And he tossed in some insults of the tea partiers: “Be prepared for those poor dumb manipulated bastards, the Tea Partiers, to have a glorious few years as the front men as the corporations that bankroll them slowly unroll their total control of our political system. And then be prepared to watch them be banished, maybe outlawed, when a few of the brighter ones suddenly realize that the corporations have made them the Judas Goats of American Freedom.”
The unencumbered ability to sway voters is great for the news media, but journalists are outraged others could re-acquire the same First Amendment rights. Instead of painting a victory for free speech in the Supreme Court's ruling that corporations, non-profit groups and unions can spend money to influence elections, the Thursday broadcast network evening newscasts feared a ruinous future:
“Opening floodgates” to “big money” with “corporate interests having even more of a say” by “attacking political candidates,” resulting in “the real danger...that the candidates are just going to get drowned out” as “special interests” may “take over political campaign advertising.”
“On that subject of big money and power,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer intoned, “a blockbuster decision from the Supreme Court today opening floodgates for companies and unions to spend all the money they want attacking political candidates.” On NBC, anchor Brian Williams previewed “the news today that will result in big companies and corporate interests having even more of a say in American politics and campaigns.”
The Obama presidential campaign indisputably used new media better than any before it to build a virtual army of grassroots supporters, and to wield that army as a powerful tool for fundraising, rapid response messaging, and boots-on-the-ground campaigning.
But the energy that surrounded Obama and his team after the election, and supporters' expectations that President Obama would be the empowering community organizer that was Candidate Obama, fizzled as it became clear--campaign slogans notwithstanding--this administration represented less change then it would have the country believe.
After the election, commentators buzzed about the potential for a small-d democratic upheaval in the American political process that the Obama camp's mastery of new media could bring about. Newsweek summed up the excitement in the lede of an article in late November:
Here’s a shock: Retired New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse donated to the Obama campaign. Greenhouse revealed the donation in a nytimes.com column expressing her ambivalence about McCain-Feingold’s stringent restrictions on campaign speech.
In "Hurry Up and Wait," an Opinionator piece on campaign finance reform posted December 17 at nytimes.com, Greenhouse admitted donating to the Obama presidential campaign in 2008.
Receiving such requests was a new experience for me after my years at The Times, which doesn’t permit reporters to make political contributions. After I left the paper in mid-2008, I made a few contributions: to a respected state judge caught in a nasty retention election, to a Congressional candidate whose campaign was managed by the daughter of a high school friend, to the Obama campaign.
As noted earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), yesterday's resignation from CNN by Lou Dobbs was his second during a storied career there. The first was at least partially driven by clear tensions between Dobbs and CNN head Rick Kaplan, a longtime friend of former president Bill Clinton who arrived at the network in 1997.
That Kaplan was driven to protect Clinton, and to risk journalistic integrity while doing so, is virtually beyond dispute. In 1997, as the Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz noted in a 1999 op-ed whose primary purpose was to comment the significance of "the demolition of CNN and Time's story charging that U.S. forces used the lethal gas sarin to attack American defectors in Laos," U.S. News reported that Kaplan "issued a warning to CNN journalists to limit the use of words like 'scandal' in relation to stories on the president's fund-raising ventures."
So you can imagine how beside himself Kaplan must have been when Dobbs, then the host of a business and finance show, went after the Chinese nuclear espionage story in 1999 while his other CNN colleagues and the Big 3 networks were attempting to downplay and ignore it. Brent Baker's CyberAlert from March 12 of that year has the details:
Here was Pres. Obama speaking to his $30,000-a-couple fundraiser tonight in NYC:
"I hope that everybody here is willing to recapture that sense of excitement that comes from a big but achievable challenge, not a superficial excitement that comes from election day, but an excitement that comes from knowing we took on something that had to be taken on."
Those heady days of the Iowa primary victory are history. Ditto candidate Obama's nomination-clinching night speech. Who can forget his immortal words: "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal"?
Michael Moore, the man of many hats - documentary filmmaker, political scientist and now, singer.
Moore has been making the rounds to promote his new movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story." On NBC's Sept. 15 "Jay Leno Show," Moore appeared and was asked what was wrong with capitalism.
"Capitalism is actually legalized greed," Moore said. "There's nothing wrong with people earning money, starting a business, selling shoes. That's not what I'm talking about. We're at a point now Jay, in this country, where the richest 1 percent, the very top 1 percent have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined."
This is a notion that hasn't really gotten any traction anywhere yet, but could Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. be a viable 2012 presidential election candidate?
The hosts of Fox Business Network's "Happy Hour," Eric Bolling, Rebecca Diamond and Cody Willard, contemplated that possibility on their Sept. 14 show, which comes on the eve of a vote on a "resolution of disapproval" on Wilson for calling out "You lie!" as President Barack Obama spoke to a joint-session of Congress Sept. 9.
"First off, House Dems appear set to censure South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson for shouting ‘you lie' at President Obama during last week's health care speech, but Wilson is not backing down," Diamond said. "He told Fox News Sunday he will not apologize to the House tomorrow. Instead, he is turning this - all of this into a fund-raising campaign, claiming he has raised $1 million since the outrage incident last Wednesday. So we are asking, ‘Hit or Miss' on whether Democrats risk turning Representative Wilson into a viable conservative candidate for 2012."
The Washington Posts's first ever “chief digital officer” came aboard the newspaper, where he also oversees Newsweek's online efforts, after three years of working diligently to help elect liberals and Democrats to office -- including Barack Obama. A short profile of Vijay Ravindran, in the July issue of Washingtonian magazine, noted that “Democratic strategist and entrepreneur Harold Ickes,” a veteran of the Clinton administration and 1996 re-election campaign, enlisted “Ravindran to build Catalist, a national voter database for Democratic candidates and liberal organizations. From the fall of 2005 through the election of Barack Obama, Ravindran built systems for Catalist.” His title at Catalist: Chief Technology Officer.
Catalist, which dubs itself “The Future of Progressive Organizing,” lists a who's who of left-wing groups and causes on its client list, from ACORN and the AFL-CIO to Wellstone Action, with MoveOn.org, the National Resources Defense Council and Obama for America (the official Obama campaign) alphabetically in between.
Cancer is a terrible disease. It is a slow, painful way to die, and the best of modern medicine can only sometimes beat back its advances. Also notable: Cancer is a nonpartisan disease, attacking the Jack Kemps and Ted Kennedys of the world with equal impunity. Only a true cynic could see cancer as a political fundraising opportunity.
Enter the appropriately named Senator Arlen Specter, stage left. The media-beloved Specter has been the subject of much discussion recently, following his decision to switch his party affiliation to Democrat. Some in the mainstream media have painted Specter as a consummate moderate, while others have seen in his party switch the death-knell for the Republican party’s electoral aspirations in the Northeast.
According to election fraud lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh, The New York Times decided suddenly to drop all efforts last October to publish stories about the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) because it came to light that ACORN was a big donor to then presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign. The Times is said to have told ACORN insider Anita Moncrief that they were dropping the story because it was a "game changer" for the election and might hurt Obama's campaign.
Heidelbaugh, who worked for the Penn. Republican State Committee in a vote fraud lawsuit against ACORN, told a House Judiciary subcommittee on March 19 that she had found a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign through the inside information from former ACORN worker Anita Moncrief.
And what was this heinous, catastrophic philosophy that caused all our nation's problems? "Americans do best when they own their own home."
Oh the humanity.
Sadly, much as the Times and its liberal colleagues conveniently forgot and/or ignored all American history prior to March 2003 in order to blame the nation's problems on Bush and the invasion of Iraq, the authors of this disgrace omitted and/or skirted over virtually all the relevant pieces of legislation and issues that led to our current financial crisis -- as well as articles on the subject published by their very paper!!! -- instead focusing readers' attention on the following (emphasis added throughout, photo courtesy NYT):
Dahlia Lithwick, a Slate senior editor, is newly miffed at the constant Obama fundraising emails she's received. Oh, she didn't mind them as the campaign was going on, she says, but now that Big "O" is fairly elected, Lithwick is tired of them. One gets the feeling, of course, that this has been building in her for some time -- a sneaking dread mounting with each demand for cash. She even ends her Slate piece telling Obama that as far as she is concerned he should consider himself "cutoff" from her wallet.
Too bad she seems completely clueless that his constant grubbing for donations have moved from the voluntary stage to the mandatory stage now that she has helped elect him. She even mentions that she wants to get back to "panicking about her 401(k)" which is also amusing since the party she supports is now saying that they want to take possession of her 401(k)! Does she even know this?
Lithwick's Slate posting seems to say a lot about a media that really never did get to truly see Barack past his glitzy exterior. It was all hope-n-change. Only the "change" ends up being that every last penny in her pocket AND her 401(k) is going to go to her email buddy, Barack.
Emanuel, who was a senior adviser for former President Bill Clinton throughout the 1990s, was appointed to the board of Freddie Mac upon his departure from the Clinton administration.
"Clinton's going-away gift to Emanuel was a seat on the quasi-governmental Freddie Mac board, which paid him $231,655 in director's fees in 2001 and $31,060 in 2000," Lynn Sweet wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times on Jan. 3, 2002.
Taking a dig at outgoing President George W. Bush while lauding President-elect Obama as a man of letters, Associated Press writer Hillel Italie suggested that well-respected writers are welcoming the arrival of a "literary president-elect." Italie suggested that it was admiration of Obama's writing style and intelligence, not his liberal ideology, that pushed authors Toni Morrison, Ayelet Waldman, and novelist Michael Chabon into the Illinois Democrat's cheering section.
Yet Italie left out of his November 6 story how Morrison, Waldman and Chabon are reliable donors to the Democratic Party and left-wing groups and candidates like MoveOn.org and former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.):