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Hey, If Corporations Shouldn’t Give Money to Campaigns, Should the NYT Give Out Endorsements?

January 24, 2010

The MSM are hyperventilating over the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down large portions of McCain-Fiengold.  Rarely are  people so genuinely unaware of the ideas of hypocrisy and slippery slope.

Forgetting for a second that the New York Times is owned by the–wait for it–New York Times Company, a corporation, let’s just focus for a moment on the idiotic assertion that a Supreme Court ruling on a law that didn’t even exist until 2002 somehow imperils democracy and threatens a return to the robber baron era:

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

The Times would go much further toward persuading its more skeptical readers if they could explain how our great republic ever withstood the insidious influence of labor unions who, much the same as corporations, pool money and power in order to influence elections. 

The Times hysterical missive could better be served if they were able to clearly elucidate how, if corporate spending on elections has such a damning and corrupting influence, the republic has withstood the Times–which again, is corporately owned–not endorsing a Republican presidential candidate in its pages since Ike.  More than half a century has passed since the Times gave its nod to a Republican candidate for president.  Yet and still, America survives!  Perhaps a better question for the Times’ astute readership is, how has democracy withstood the Times?

But the NYT is not alone.  Similar to the NYT’s hysterical requiem for representative democracy is the Washington Post‘s absurd and poorly argued op-ed, which asserts that since corporations aren’t explicitly mentioned in the first amendment, they aren’t worthy of protection:

This result was unnecessary because the court’s conservative majority — including supposed exemplars of judicial modesty — lunged to make a broad constitutional ruling when narrower grounds were available. It was wrong because nothing in the First Amendment dictates that corporations must be treated identically to people. And it was dangerous because corporate money, never lacking in the American political process, may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy.

I suppose the reason I find this passage so amusing is that it comes from the liberal WaPo.  This is a publication that has run innumerable columns in its op-ed pages expressing support for something that the Constitution not only doesn’t explicitly recognize as protected, but doesn’t even support in theory–no matter how tangential you imagine that reasoning to be: abortion.  Liberals will fight to the death under the banner of “penumbras” and “emanations” for a practice that the founders would have found not just ghastly, but anathema to the civil society, but they can’t seem to imagine that the Constitution’s guarantees of speech and assembly, applied mutually, offer protection for corporations–which are nothing more than collections of people assembled for a common purpose or purposes. 

Put simply, the underlying principle of free speech for commercial corporations protects not just the Wal-Marts and Exxon Mobiles of the world, but the NYT and the WaPo:

The first problem is that, like the “real people” argument, it applies to media corporations as well. On this view, the government would be free to censor the New York Times, Fox News, the Nation, National Review, and so on. Nearly every newspaper and political journal in the country is a corporation. If the Supreme Court accepted this view, it would have to overturn decisions like New York Times v. Sullivan and the Pentagon Papers case.

Perhaps the MSM will remember this the next time they rail indiscriminately against the influence of corporations on political campaigns. 

Hat tips: Volokh Conspiracy, Hot Air.

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