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The MoveOn ad and the NYT, an afterword
Posted by: McQ on Monday, September 24, 2007

Seems I got it right in the beginning. And no, I don't offer this as "triumphalism" but as another little peek at the power of the internet and blogs. Again, this is a case of people who know the business (i.e. newspapers and their ads) or the culture finding the particulars of a story to be not quite right and beginning to question and poke at it.

It was precisely that which led to Dan Rather's National Guard story imploding and the reason both Jesse MacBeth and Scott Thomas Beauchamp were exposed. They were exposed because things just didn't seem right to those who've enough experience in the field to know better.

For Rather it was the appearance of the memos. For MacBeth it was his appearance period (beret flash on the wrong side, wrong flash, etc), and for Thomas it was a matter of his anecdotal claims being so dramatically opposed to the culture of the military. The NYT/MoveOn ad kerfuffle is simply another example of that.
Clark Hoyt said in his column that MoveOn was not entitled to the cheaper "standby" rate for advertising that can run any time over the following week because the Times did promise that the ad would run Sept. 10, the day Petraeus began his congressional testimony. "We made a mistake," Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis was quoted as saying.

MoveOn, saying it had no reason to believe it was paying "anything other than the normal and usual charge," said yesterday that it would send the Times $77,000 to make up the difference.

The Times also violated its own advertising policy, which bars "attacks of a personal nature," Hoyt reported. He wrote that the episode "gave fresh ammunition to a cottage industry that loves to bash The Times as a bastion of the 'liberal media.' "
Of course what Howard Kurtz avoids saying here is the decision to run an ad such as the ad wasn't made at "salesman" level. This decision and exception came from the upper tier of management. So not only did it give "fresh ammunition" to those who believe in a "liberal media", it appears to be justified, at least in the case of the New York Times.

Or as Daniel Okrent, the NYT Public Editor in July of 2004 said:
Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? Of course it is.
And MoveOn? Well if you believe them, they were just paying what was asked for an ad. That puts the onus for the decision to run it on Sept. 10th at the stand-by ad rate directly upon the management of the Times. MoveOn simply paid what was asked.

This isn't so much a big deal as it is another interesting example of why, now that the paradigm of who controls the information flow been completely and utterly changed, news organizations can't act as they did previously. With the proliferation of information technology and communication means it isn't as easy to bury inconvenient stories as it once was. And, in cases like this, that's all good.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

They were exposed because things just didn’t seem right to those who’ve enough experience in the field to know better.
... and because those with the experience to know better now have outlets for getting the word out.

Imagine pre-blog days, when those with knowledge in typewriters and so on would have been screaming that the CBS documents were forged... and going crazy because no one was listening.
Written By: steve sturm
Steve: You are describing years on-end of experience in the Whitewater group in Usenet.

You had to be there.
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—
As soon as the quotes of FEC regulations appeared on some of the blogs, it became obvious that this "arrangement" was illegal, and I predicted that should have their checkbook handy as that was the only way out.

The only remaining question is ... will the FEC do anything to show their displeasure with the "arrangement" ? Afterall, if not for the exposure of the "arrangement" to the sun, this bit of illegal campaign finance would have been swept under the proverbial rug.

Isn’t that sweet .. The New York Times shown the power of the press to investigate criminal activity.
Written By: Neo
URL: http:// where’s Professor Erb and his apology?
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http:// where’s Professor Erb and his apology?
Busy, writing today’s blog about the diminished capacity of the United States because of Iraq and the similarities between George Bush and President AhmawhackJob of Iran.

If you’ll read it, you’ll find out why he can’t be here apologizing.

Written By: looker
URL: http://

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