Renaissance of a loophole?

Since it's recent launch, NRANews is not only doing well, they've expanded. The show can now be heard on Sirius Radio. Plus, if you don't have the Sirius equipment, there's a special offer for NRA members. I'd be an idiot not to take advantage of this, because it's a fraction of what you'd pay in the stores.

NRANews is not only blogger-friendly, but host Cam Edwards is a blogger himself. (And the left is listening. Hmmm, I mean watching!) I heard one show featuring Dean Esmay and James Joyner, and more blogger interviews are in the works. (Dean, by the way, linked to NRANews' interview with Chief Wiggles.)

Yesterday, there was this editorial in the Chicago Tribune:

The National Rifle Association last week launched a daily satellite radio program, “NRA News,” to provide news and pro-gun commentary to an estimated 400,000 listeners. With that, the nation’s oldest gun rights group transformed itself into the nation’s newest news organization.

At least, that’s how the NRA sees it. Critics say the NRA’s new radio show is actually a thinly disguised ploy to ricochet its way around campaign finance laws. Well, sure it is. And though we’re no fans of the NRA agenda, we’ll say this to NRA News: Welcome to the broadcast media world. You have every right to be there.

Among the many grotesque distortions created by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance “reform” law passed in 2002 is a rule about how organizations can spend money on political speech close to Election Day. The law essentially forbids independent groups from buying political advertising that criticizes or praises candidates by name within 60 days of a general election and 30 days of a primary election.

Yes, the law attempts to create a criticism-free zone for candidates.

Amazing.

At least the law exempts the news media from this restriction. Apparently someone noticed that language about a ‘free press’ in the 1st Amendment.

Since the law exempts news organizations, their editorial endorsements and the rest of their political commentary, the NRA intends to get its political message out through this radio program.

Will campaign reformers or anti-gun groups challenge the NRA ploy? Go ahead, the association says, make their day. “Tom Paine was free to pamphlet,” said Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president. “So are we.” Absolutely true. A legal challenge to NRA News would be offensive to this nation’s 1st Amendment principles of free speech and a free press. That has always been one of the failings of efforts to curtail political campaign spending and advertising. The government is in the position of determining which political speech is free and which is not. News reporting and analysis, in print or on broadcast, are exempt from legal restrictions, and so should other forms of political speech. The voters are intelligent enough to decide for themselves which political views they wish to support and which they don’t.

First, though, voters must be free to hear those views.

This newspaper often disagrees with what the NRA has to say—and we have the freedom to voice that in any edition of the newspaper. The notion that the NRA would be restricted in what it can say and when it can say it is offensive. In that spirit, NRA News should be welcome to fire away—with words, preferably, not live ammo.

(And here are Dean Esmay's thoughts.) Some time ago, I posed the question whether bloggers might be subjected to McCain-Feingold, although I don't think anyone would dare try to use the law that way.

But the question of what is journalism is a good one. Glenn Reynolds doesn't think that the First Amendment creates any privileged or protected groups, as we all have the same rights. Because as Glenn puts it, the First Amendment is part of our "general heritage of freedom, not as a license for elites to lie and spout off without consequences." Blogging opens up the playing field in ways never imagined before, as it is the technological equivalent of, say, every 15th Century citizen who desired having been allowed to have his own Gutenburg press, and print whatever he wanted.

NOTE: For those unfamiliar with history, despite its severe limitations, the Gutenberg revolution was credited with making the Renaissance possible....

Journalism as freedom? A marvelous, subversive -- even old -- concept.

I am delighted to see NRANews -- and so many others -- now putting it to the test!

It's getting to be more than a loophole.

posted by Eric on 06.25.04 at 08:48 AM










Comments

Thanks for your support, Eric! Great blog!

Cam   ·  June 25, 2004 10:25 AM

'Tis a great blog indeed! Eric Scheie's Classical Values.

Steven Malcolm Anderson is a ------- ------- ----- -------. But anyway....

At such point in time as I can get Up With Beauty back up again, resume blogging, I shall probably not be susceptible to that McCain-Feingold law, for the reason that I shall not be endorsing _any_ candidate for President this year. Maybe the Personal Choice VP candidate (Marilyn Chambers)? Hmmm....

But I absolutely oppose that law, a flat-out and flagrant violation of the First Amendment, flagrantly and blatantly un-Constitutional. I'm against it! I'm glad the Chicago Tribune is against it, too. Most of the enemies of the Second Amendment are enemies also of the First Amendment, and most of the press are ------- hypocrites when it comes to the First Amendment. But not this paper apparently. Good!

I'm very disappointed with Senator John McCain for sponsoring this piece of un-Constitutional legislation. I voted for him, proudly, in 2000, and have always admired him as a War hero. He spoke out against Falwell and Robertson. But now he has done this. It's too bad. Shame on him.

Maybe I'll buy a full-page ad in my local newspaper a week before the election -- for Eric Scheie for President, Jeff Soyer for Vice President, Leonard Peikoff for Secretary of War, and Camille Paglia for Chief Justice.

Cam, I am delighted you liked my blog!

Steven, that's very flattering, but now I'm embarrassed. Jeff is my blogfather, and I believe in seniority. Plus Jeff has already placed the Reynolds/Lucas ticket on the ballot, and they get my vote.

Maybe (if Glenn Reynolds declines to run again) Jeff could run against Hillary in 2008! (And if he wins, I'll be willing to serve as Drug Czar..... I'd make sure it would be a very temporary position!)

Eric Scheie   ·  June 25, 2004 8:31 PM

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