By Jeff Simpson
As we have documented numerous times, JSonline keeps allowing the Bradley funded mouthpieces to push propaganda. From Christian Schneider never making a salient point to Rick Esenberg trying to.
The latest assault on the truth comes from Mr. Esenberg. In a piece entitled "Free Speech for Me But Not For Thee". he attempts to make a correlation between campaigns being allowed to coordinate secretely with dark money donors and the press being allowed to keep theur sources secret.
But why should the media - corporations who already have a great big soap box - have greater rights than those who must rent that soap box? Again, it is necessary to balance the risk of corruption against the rights of persons to freely associate and speak. The strong presumption should be in favor of free expression, but, however that cashes out, it is not clear why some people called the "media" should have greater freedom than others who are not.
But even if you dispute my view of the matter, a sixty second "phony issue" ad pointing out another view would seem as relevant to the public's right to know and as much a contribution to our public discourse as anything in the pages of the Washington Post or seen during the nightly news.
Nor can we assume that the media is not a "special interest." Just about anyone - including people with a variety of interests - can own a media company. In any event, what the New York Times wants is not intrinsically of greater value than what George Soros or David Koch want. It should have no greater First Amendment rights.
Because there is no one left (except for Rowan) on the left side of the aisle in the JSonline to dispute this ridiculousness, lets take a minute to do so.
Does anyone really think the New York Times, the supposed paper of record, has the same interests in getting a story out as Soros or Koch?
The media's value is in their ability to give us the "news". In order to have real value, we have to trust that what the media is giving us is true and timely(Fox News being the obvious exception). Not only do these news organizations have to be true and timely, their reporters, have to give us true and timely news as part of their brand also.
A 60 second phony issue ad, usually has one goal in mind, to smear an opponent of the person they want to get elected. Truth actually works against the idea of a dark money ad. The fact that the issues are at best skewed and more likely flat out lies is why the people who fund the dark money ads do not want to be ackowledged. It is much easier to lie and smear when no one knows who is behind it.
Let's look at a couple examples.
In the lead up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration realized how important the NY Times was as a paper of record. They then found a reporter, Judy Miller, who they would feed false stories too, and she would print without verification because she trusted her sources. These stories of doom and gloom and WMD's in Iraq were blatantly false, but helped sell the public on starting the war of choice.
We know now, that he stories were false, her informants were lying and she is now a disgraced reporter who will never write for a news organization again and the New York Times credibility took a huge hit.
Now let's compare that to a phone issue ad.
While we know WMC paid for the ad, we do not know everyone involved or who is spending the most money there. We also know that the "information" inside this ad is as phony as any story that Judith Miller wrote.
Yet while Judy Miller was disgraced for life, ads like this help get Scott Walker elected.
To compare the media with WI Club for Growth, or Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce is not only laughable, Mr. Esenberg knows better.
Now for solutions. While I do not think we should stop people from spending money on ads, as human beings, I do believe when we have a forum, we should at least make an attempt at the truth.
Simply by signing names and disclosing donors to these issue ads would make sure that happens. When you have to sign your name to something then you need to take responsibility for the contents.
The irony is not lost on me that the self proclaimed "party of personal responsibility" never wants to actually take any.
The retaliation argument also falls on deaf ears, after the current Republican party has spent six years trying to punish anyone who signed the recall petition against Governor Walker.