The American Conservative Union says that in the wake of an admission by the New York Times, it will press the Federal Election Commission to punish the newspaper and MoveOn.org for violating federal campaign-finance laws.
The liberal newspaper, through its public editor, admitted Sunday that it gave the liberal group a $77,508 discount for a full-page ad that accused Gen. David H. Petraeus of preparing to lie to Congress about military progress in Iraq.
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt said in his weekly column, “For nearly two weeks, The New York Times has been defending a political advertisement that critics say was an unfair shot at the American commander in Iraq. But I think the ad violated The Times’ own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to.”
MoveOn.org paid $64,575 for the ad. The American Conservative Union contends that MoveOn should have paid $181,692, which would mean the group received a discount of $117,117.
“The discount was not just a mistake; it is illegal under federal law,” ACU Chairman David A. Keene said. “The New York Times has been the leading cheerleader for any and every restrictions on political speech by citizens and citizens groups railing for years against ‘soft money’ and the ‘corruption’ in politics of ‘soft money.’ ”
The ACU filed a complaint with the FEC Sept. 14, after the ad appeared.
“ACU will vigorously work to ensure that the FEC treats the New York Times Company and MoveOn.org the same way other less-influential people are treated,” Mr. Keene said. “The Times needs to feel the pain from the campaign-finance laws it has helped to impose over the years.”
“Once again, the Watergate maxim that ‘the cover-up is worse than the crime’ is proving valid. And Clark Hoyt, ‘public editor’ (ombudsman) of the New York Times is playing the part of John Dean in what could be titled ‘All the Publisher’s Men,’ ” Thomas Lifson wrote Sunday at www.american thinker.com.
“The revelations about the MoveOn ‘betray us’ ad contained in Hoyt’s column [Sunday] raise serious questions about the integrity of the company’s management. Members of the Sulzberger/Ochs family who control the Times have even more reason to be gravely concerned the very survival of their patrimony is being jeopardized by incompetence or worse on the part of [Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr.] and the management team he has installed,” Mr. Lifson said.
“The New York Times made a severe error when it violated its own policies in allowing a scurrilous personal attack on General Petraeus to be published in a full page ad and in providing a deeply discounted rate to MoveOn.org. Hoyt properly describes the discount as a ‘mistake.’ But that term is inoperable (to use another Watergate-era expression) when it comes to the cover-up. When the paper’s management was challenged and the company learned of the errors, it continued to maintain otherwise for almost two weeks.
“There is no pleasant way to state this, but Rick Moran put it very well in the American Thinker blog section when he wrote: ‘ … all the lies told by spokesmen for the New York Times have all been shown to be an effort to hide the truth from the American people.’
“Newspapers and other media properties must be perceived as interested in conveying the truth. The handling of the aftermath of this affair demonstrates by actions that the management of the company is indifferent to the truth. The damage to the brand of the company is catastrophic.”
Most Americans — 58 percent — disapprove of MoveOn.org’s newspaper ad that branded Army Gen. David H. Petraeus as “General Betray Us,” according to a Rasmussen Reports poll released yesterday.
Just 23 percent of voters approved of the liberal group’s full-page ad that ran in the New York Times to coincide with Gen. Petraeus’ testimony Sept. 10 before Congress on the progress of the Iraq war, according to the telephone survey Sunday of 1,000 likely voters.
The ad didn’t fare much better with self-identified liberal voters, 45 percent of whom approved of the ad while 39 percent disapproved.
The New York Times acknowledged this weekend that the ad violated the newspaper’s policy against “opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature” and that the paper improperly charged the liberal group $64,575, or less than half the standard rate.
MoveOn.org promised to now pay the full price, according to the newspaper.
The Rasmussen poll showed that 47 percent of adults say “stunts like the MoveOn.org ad” hurt the causes in which they believe.
The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers endorsed Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president yesterday, saying she had the best chance to win.
“Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to deliver the change America needs,” union President John J. Flynn said. “After years of an administration that has turned its back on working families, we need a president whose priorities are our priorities.”
Mr. Flynn said the union’s executive council voted unanimously to endorse Mrs. Clinton and that the New York senator was the clear winner in a poll of members, the Associated Press reports.
Founded in 1865, the bricklayers say that they are the oldest continuously operating union in North America and that they represent about 100,000 skilled masonry-trowel tradescraft workers.
Meanwhile, one of the largest municipal jail unions in the country said yesterday that it would endorse Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois for president. The endorsement would be Mr. Obama’s first from a union.
“Barack Obama is the one candidate who will put an end to the divisiveness in this country so that we can finally achieve greater economic prosperity for the working class and health care coverage for all Americans,” said Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.
The group has about 9,000 active members.
A Clinton backer
Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who once aspired to the Democratic presidential nomination, has endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the White House.
“I believe she will run a campaign that is both tough and smart when it comes to protecting our nation’s security,” Mr. Bayh said yesterday at a press conference with Mrs. Clinton.
Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.