The New York Times Still Doesn't Understand Citizens United

Complicated and confusing, campaign finance reform is apparently beyond the ken of New York Times. In a front page story on Sheldon's Adelson's $5 million contribution to a pro-Gingrich PAC, the Times flatly misstates the meaning and effect of the Citizen's United decision, once again. Adelson's donation "underscores how the 2010 landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance has made it possible for a wealthy individual to influence an election," the Times wrongly declares. In fact, it has long been possible for wealthy individuals "to influence an election." Citizen's United enabled corporations to use general treasury funds for independent political expenditures; it did not expand or address the individual rights of the rich to support independent groups.

This is not a minor, inconsequential mistake. It perpetuates the misconception of Citizens United as the root of all campaign finance evils; it exacerbates the difficulties of conducting informed, honest debates about the complex practical and legal problems alleviated or exacerbated by reforms. And it makes you wonder what other fictions the Times confuses with facts. 

Presented by

Wendy Kaminer is an author, lawyer, and civil libertarian. She is the author of I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

From This Author

Just In