Friday, March 17, 2006


Zombie facts.

Outside of the blogosphere, I'm not aware of any media institution that, qua that institution, raises money for a political party or candidates.

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post:

The sad news is that there is no cure. But there is hope. There are many fine researchers seeking that cure. Your donation to the BDS Foundation, no matter how small, can help. Mailing address: Republican National Committee, Washington, D.C., Attention: psychiatric department. Just make sure your amount does not exceed $2,000 ($4,000 for a married couple).

Sean Hannity, Hannity Radio:

HANNITY: Not only that. Just don't be a phony about it. If you're gonna run, say, "Yeah, I'm planning on running. I'm thinking of running." But don't play this cat-and-mouse game and not get away with answering the question. Listen, I'm gonna have to run, but I want people to donate to your campaign. I read [New York Post state editor] Fredric Dicker's column, and you gotta, you know -- I'm gonna give you a check for the maximum that I can give, and I really want other people -- where is, how can people get in touch with you?

PIRRO: It's It's J-E-A-N-I-N-E -- Pirro -- P-I-R-R-O dot-com, and, Sean, thank you so much.

HANNITY: I'll link that to my website,, because I'm gonna tell you right now, it is such a bunch of -- I need people to get to know you. If they know you as well as I do, everybody'll vote for you.

Air America.

While fundraising activities are not a regular feature of "other" media there's nothing in statute or regulation to suggest that telling readers/viewers/listeners to donate to a candidate, party, or cause is something which can nullify the media exemption. In fact, the FEC's basic stand on this was established in 1980 and hasn't ever been overturned. Endorsing and encouraging people to donate is not a problem and shouldn't be considered to be an in-kind contribution as long as the publication doesn't serve as a conduit for the money. Writing "I endorse John Kerry" is no different conceptually from writing "I endorse John Kerry, and here's where you can send the money" or typing "I endorse John Kerry, and here's a link to where you can donate."

Endorsements, issue advocacy, lobbying for causes are all features of our media which include Sean Hannity, The American Prospect (print and online), Howard Stern, Jon Stewart, Fox News, Michael Savage, Lou Dobbs, the New York Post, amateur newsletters, etc.

But aside from that specific issue, the purpose of regulation isn't to regulate for regulation's sake. The purpose isn't to make sure the FEC is monitoring all political activitiy. The purpose of campaign finance regulation and federal election law is to try to minimize the corrupting influence of concentrated money. If we have a space where the corrupting influence of concentrated money has yet to be demonstrated, then the default position should be to stay away.

...Garance sez the American Prospect doesn't endorse candidates, which I didn't really mean to imply, the "features of our media which include" was just meant to list off a bunch of players which comprise our media and not to say all of those entities partake in all the activities listed. But, bad writing on my part. As for lobbying I meant in the colloquial sense of issue advocacy and general activism and not in the sense of actually formally lobbying your member of Congress. I'm not sure what the issue is, though. As she writes media outlets certainly do engage in formal lobbying, including the hiring of professional lobbyists. The fact that they don't do so on all issues doesn't seem to be really relevant. They're allowed to lobby without incurring the wrath of the FEC and they do.

I'm not sure I really understand what the issue is in any case. Certainly a columnist is free to write "If you care about this issue, I suggest you contact your member of Congress, and you can do so using the Capital Switchboard #..." if the guidelines at her paper allow it.

The fact that Krauthammer wrapped his fundraising plea in a joke doesn't mean he wasn't making a fundraising plea. I'm getting confused about these distinctions between individuals and institutions. Blogs are media outlets and people publish stuff. Sometimes they tell people to call their members of Congress, sometimes they suggest people donate money, sometimes they post up pictures of their cats. Kos Media, LLC is the corporate entity, is the website it owns, and it's a medium in which front page diarists, include Markos Moulitsas, write about what they want and also on which anyone can register and self-publish whatever the hell they want. If USA Today founder Al Neuhart suggested in a column that people donate money to a candidate or call their member of Congress that would be fine.