The Institite for Justice’s Bert Gall posted an interesting analysis of a video produced by MoveOn.org bashing Target for contributing money to a political group:
In other words, they subscribe to the same condescending attitude that is at the heart of all criticism of Citizens United: Most of the public is made up of idiots, and they’ll vote however corporations tell them to. But wait just a second. Those who stay with the video to the very end learn that the advertisement was funded by MoveOn.org—a corporation whose business is to influence elections…
Gall cuts right to the heart of MoveOn.org’s opposition to Target’s spending:
MoveOn.org thinks it’s okay for the right kind of corporations—those who can always be counted on to promote a progressive political agenda—to engage in as much robust political speech as they’d like.
MoveOn.org isn’t really all that coy about this point. In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times responding to the paper’s editorial board’s criticism of the boycott, MoveOn.org executive director Justin Ruben wrote, “Unlimited corporate spending on elections creates even more formidable obstacles to solving the biggest problems we face, including global warming and economic inequality.”
Ruben neglected to mention that MoveOn.org and other groups tried to extort a contribution from Target to their organizations in exchange for dropping the boycott and other criticisms. As long as companies give to groups such as MoveOn.org, MoveOn.org doesn’t seem to mind.
Rather than a public backlash, Target has experienced a smear campaign by a few liberal groups and institutional shareholders representing a sliver of shares. There are no widespread public calls criticizing Target. No polls show people will stop shopping at Target as a result. This controversy was manufactured by a media-savvy coalition of liberal organizations that knew a company with a reputation for supporting gay rights would create a media firestorm by contributing a modest sum to a group backing a Republican candidate critical of gay rights. This is a cautionary tale for other companies, but it’s as mainly a warning to not underestimate the ability of pressure groups to create a narrative that may impact stock price and corporate reputation.
* An earlier version of this post was based on an incorrect reading of data from the Center for Responsive Politics