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March 31, 2006

Air America Debacle Marks Anniversary; Public Yawns, Media Fawns

The Daily News headlines its kissy-ass story:

After 2 years, Air America grows progressively upbeat

Grows? Its ratings and availability are shrinking. How is that "growing"?

And as for upbeat... well, whatever.

Radio Equalizer notes the network's ratings continue to be in the toilet. And that it only remains in operation because of cash infusions from wealthy liberal benefactors, like George Soros.

This presents an interesting question which has always been vague: If campaign finance laws say you can't make donations exceeding a certain amount on behalf of a candidate or party, isn't it, you know, kind of illegal or something to donate to a "media company" which is not a company in the sense it actually turns a profit or ever has any hope of paying your loans back? Isn't that just laundering campaign donations through a front?

I remember this being discussed when the McCain-Feingold bill was being debated. A guy from the NRA (I think) said that if the only way to get an opinion out is via the "media exception," the NRA would just start publishing its own free magazines and newsletters, and producing and disseminating "documentaries," and maybe even start a cable channel. As a "media organization," they could then support whatever candidate with as much speech as they liked, just like the New York Times.

That's a sham, in the sense that it seeks to disguise the actual intent of the operation. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing; if you can circumvent a bad law by adhering to its letter but not its spirit, that's a good thing. But I think a judge would probably rule such an effort a subterfuge and call it a disguised campaign donation.

But no one will ever look into Air America. George Soros, being a good leftist, is permitted to subvert campaign finance laws in a way the NRA never would be allowed.

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posted by Ace at 01:37 PM

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