Media mishandling of campaign finance is nothing new, but few publications are as consistently off-base and inaccurate as the New York Times. Once again the Grey Lady can’t even get the fundamentals right, as evidenced by October 29’s article ‘New Chief of the F.C.C. Is Confirmed.’ Edward Wyatt writes for the Times:
“In 2012, Democrats fell a single vote short of passing the Disclose Act, which would have required the public disclosure of contributors to so-called super PACs, the anonymously financed lobbying groups that can engage in unlimited political spending independent of any candidate’s campaign.”
People who are familiar with Super PACs will surely be confused by that statement, because they know that Super PACs are not anonymously financed and are already required by law to publicly disclose their contributors, including the name of the individual, group or entity contributing, the date of the contribution, and the contribution amount. It’s simply untrue to call them “anonymously financed lobbying groups.”
Readers of the Times will also be left at best with no idea what the DISCLOSE Act is; at worst, they’ll buy into the Times‘ faulty description. Clearly it’s not a bill requiring disclosure of Super PAC donors, because current law already does that. In reality, the DISCLOSE Act is an extreme bill that would close the door to many companies wanting to support certain issues, and require disclosure of donors to non-profits even if those donors did not contribute for political reasons.
Usually when a news source cannot even get the very basics of the law correct, their opinion of the overall system should not be taken seriously. For such a loud voice in national conversations about campaign finance, the New York Times just isn’t a credible source of information.