How I Know What the Journal Thinks of Citizens United

February 24th, 2012 · No Comments · campaign finance reform

By Arthur Alpert

I know the Albuquerque Journal’s stand on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United and I didn’t come to that knowledge by way of an editorial.

Nor did I rely on a few Op Ed columns on the issue, though pro-Citizens United essays have outnumbered the others.

What I know didn’t even come from reading my colleague Denise Tessier’s Feb 10 post here when she pointed out how the Journal somehow missed the Legislature’s anti-Citizens United memorials. Her excellent catch did help, though, as I’ll explain.

First, back to the beginning.

I’d noticed the Journal’s lack of interest in the role of Super PACs (encouraged by Citizens United) in the Republican primaries. Perhaps editors found such news stories and think pieces superfluous.

(That wasn’t the case when President Obama reversed field, deciding to employ Super PACs. The Journal ran a story and, later, an Op Ed about his being “sullied.”)

Denise’s alert did make me more attentive, which paid off this week when Super PACs reported to the Federal Election Commission.

I first heard about what proved to be a big story on NPR’s (indispensible) Morning Edition on KUNM, in a brief that credited the Associated Press.

Sure enough, I found a lengthy piece from AP’s Washington Bureau on the computer; its headline was, “A $1M donor for every presidential hopeful”.

Here’s reporter Stephen Braun’s lead:

“Just two dozen ultra-wealthy donors are behind a surge of million-dollar contributions to the new breed of political committees during the presidential campaign.”

As you know, the Journal leans on AP Washington for most of its national copy, but not this time. This time the Journal passed.

The Washington Post headlined its Feb. 21 account:

“Super PACs dominating Republican presidential race”.

After citing some donors and how much they gave, reporter Dan Eggen wrote:

“These and other FEC disclosures, which were due by midnight Monday, underscore the extent to which a small group of ultra-wealthy financiers and industry executives has come to dominate spending in the Republican nominating contest, a trend that seems likely to persist through the general-election campaign.”

The next day, the Post’s top story was a follow by Eggen and T.W. Farnam headlined:

“Super PAC donors revealed: Who are the power players in the GOP primary?”

It included this:

“Although many of these mega-donors have long participated in politics, none were able to wield the kind of influence now possible under loosened campaign finance regulations, which allow super PACs and other outside groups to spend unlimited amounts on political races.”

And this:

“In January, just five donors gave a total of $19 million, a quarter of the money raised for the presidential race that month, according to a Washington Post analysis of new contribution data filed this week.”

The Journal buys the Washington Post news service, but it printed neither Post story.

The Journal has no access to New York Times journalism; let’s just note that the Times also ran detailed stories Tuesday and Wednesday.

Note, too, that AP, the Washington Post and N.Y. Times included donations to a Super Pac supporting President Obama in their accounts.

So, to sum up:

In perfect contrast to the above coverage, the Albuquerque Journal published no story on the Super Pac reports to the FEC Tuesday, Feb. 21, Wednesday, Feb. 11 or Thursday, Feb. 23.

Zero.

That’s how I know what the Journal thinks of Citizens United.

The Journal thinks its readers don’t need to know about how it’s playing out in the primaries.

And if they insist, let ‘em read the competition.

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