Thursday, September 13, 2007

Danger: Heartburn Dead Ahead

"Anytime a post begins, 'Conservative blogs are all excited about…' you know you might as well reach for the Maalox."

That's Steve Benen, writing about the right's latest manufactured scandal:

On Monday, as everyone now knows, took out a full-page ad in the NYT with a provocative headline: “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” According to one report, the group paid about $65,000 to run the advertisement.

Yesterday, the right decided that the ad rate was too low, and that the New York Times intentionally lowered its rate because the newspaper hates America. Or something. Figuring the right out is tricky sometimes.

John Cole had a great item in which he documented the spread of the charge: one conservative asserted that the NYT gave MoveOn a sweetheart deal on the ad, another linked to the first, and then a third linked to both as proof that the story must be true. Apparently, if three far-right blogs make the same charge in the same day, it should be considered fact.

More Cole:
Allegedly a reporter, Jules Crittenden writes:
NYT Lies, People Will Die

… If they have their way, that is.

Wouldn’t you know it. Times gave a break to to gratuitously and falsely insult Petraeus. It isn’t editorializing. It’s subsidizing propaganda. Maybe Petraeus should consider cutting the NYT’s Baghdad bureau off from any access to the U.S. military in Iraq. It’s not like they are doing much in the way of meaningful reporting there, anyway. Could lead to some unpleasant truths being aired, a little housecleaning. Theoretically what the ad department does and what the editorial page does are separate from what the news department does. Or doesn’t do.

Did those reportorial juices get flowing for Jules at any time during his tirade? Of course not! This is right-wing reporting. It would not occur to him to ask around and see what other organizations have paid for ads. It would not occur to him to think maybe retail prices are never actually paid. It would not occur to him to pick up the phone and, you know, call his buddies at Freedom’s Watch, or anywhere else, to determine whether or not the price seems out of line. Or to ask them what they paid. It would not occur to him to do any of the things that ACTUAL reporter Jake Tapper did:
New York Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis tells me that it’s Times policy to not “disclose the rate that any one advertiser pays for an ad. The rate that is charged for an ad will depend on a variety of factors including how frequently the advertiser advertises with us, the day of the week, is it color, is it black and white, what section it appears, all of those kinds of things.”

Mathis says the newspaper tries “to keep our advertising columns as open as possible” and “there are many instances when we’ve published opinion advertisements that run counter to the stance that we take on our own editorial pages.” As an example of how the Times is open to all points of view in advertisers, Mathis points out that on September 11, 2007, “we published a full-page advertisement from Freedom’, an organization whose view is opposite of”

Freedom’s Watch spokesman Matt David, however tells me the group was charged “significantly more” than for its ad. The organization says it plans to run a response to the NYT ad in the Times, “and we plan to demand the same ad rate they paid,” David says.

Note the folks at Freedom’s Watch refuse to disclose how much they paid. Will any of our brave truth detectors on the right try to figure out why?

There still is ZERO reporting and ZERO evidence that the NY Times did anything out of the ordinary, but the treason of the NY Times is now established “fact” on the right. And no one, and I repeat, NO ONE, will challenge them. And this is how it goes, day in, day out, as they fling things against the wall and hope they stick to their pre-existing opinions, and reify them for their own political purposes. Now the professional (and by professional, I mean the ones on fulltime wingnut welfare) wingnuts are involved. Brent Bozell was bitching about it on Fox last night. All that is left to happen now are columns by Jonah Goldberg, Malkin, and Hugh.

Greg Sargent points out that "discounted ads are standard in the industry with clients who advertise often, such as MoveOn does." And, to their credit, a few individuals on the right have noted this fact. Here is Outside the Beltway's James Joyner, quoting Dale Franks, who blogs at QandO:
This is creating quite a hubbub in the blogosphere but I’m inclined to wait for more information before buying into conspiracy theories. It may well be that, as Dale Franks contends (in the comments of his co-blogger Bruce McQuain’s post) “nobody pays the full rate for advertising anyway, except for the hayseeds who don’t know any better.” If so, then the “open rate” could well be meaningless.

"Hubris," commenting at Protein Wisdom, makes the same point.

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