Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Nashville Newspaper Opposes Free Speech

An editorial in today's Tennessean criticizes the Federal Election Commission. That agency, by a vote of 4-2 (with three Democrats comprising most of the majority), declined to revise its rules governing the "527 groups" that became prominent following the passage of the McCain Feingold Act.

The Tennessean complains that 527s should be more regulated, because "527s have become the stomping ground for wealthy individuals with specific political agendas." The editorial goes on to complain about the impact of "fat cats."

It is interesting that the newspaper doesn't even bother to claim that contributions to 527s are driven by greedy self-interest. Rather, it acknowledges that they are made to further "specific political agendas." The paper also admits that those agendas are not monolithic: significantly more money was contributed in support of liberal causes, but large sums went to conservative groups, as well. I am not sure at what point The Tennessean believes that wealthy individuals give up their First Amendment right to engage in political speech, but they clearly would deprive them of that right.

One might also point out that The Tennessean is owned by Gannett, which many of those in the masses would consider to be a "fat cat" -- some might even say obese. Perhaps tomorrow the newspaper will editorialize in favor of regulations restricting the role of newspaper conglomerates in political campaigns. Those restrictions should not cover content, but they should cover the amount of money that can be spent in covering those campaigns.

I didn't think so. The only First Amendment rights that seemingly don't count are those of the other guy.


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