New York Times Predicts Quick End to Supreme Court (and Once Again Misstates Campaign Finance Law)

June 29, 2015   •  By Brad Smith   •    •  ,

The New York Times, in the style that pretty much typifies all of the Times’ editorials on campaign finance, today (mis)informs us that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was “fatally misguided.” Fatally?

Well, the case is over 5 years old, and no member of the majority has died yet, nor has the Court itself vanished. But given the Gray Lady’s reputation for accuracy, surely the Court must now be on the verge of extinction. Or is it American democracy that is on its death bed because of this decision?

The Times also informs us that “[t]he winners in the 11 most competitive Senate races [in 2014] netted more than $131 million in dark money.” That seems a curious term, “netted.” After all, none of the money that so vexes the Times actually was given to the “winners” of any Senate race, or to their campaign committees.* One would think that the Times would understand by now that what they call “dark money” (in other contexts, the Times would call these “confidential sources”) is not given to candidates at all, but by definition is spent by someone else. “Benefitted from?” We could go with that. But “netted?” That says something that is untrue about the private giving that launches the Times silly rant.

So, it’s a typical Times editorial when it comes to campaign finance:  ridiculous hyperbole mixed with an inaccurate description of the law.

*Netted means “to bring in or yield as profit.”

Brad Smith

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