Media Watch: The New York Times Selective Quoting

Make no mistake: there is renewed vigor to assault the First Amendment and attribute negative circumstances to an over-indulgence and respect for free speech. (Remember this piece from Slate just after Benghazi broke? Never let a crisis go to waste as they say…) The New York Times — and I hope I’m wrong — has shown, through selective quote usage, that they may have an affinity for these ideas.

They recently quoted CCP founder Brad Smith in a piece called “Result Won’t Limit Campaign Money any More than Ruling Did” as such:

Thanks to super PACs, “a Newt Gingrich or a Rick Santorum and their followers were able to have their voices heard and their views more widely distributed,” said Bradley A. Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, which favors less regulation of campaign money.

Having been a reporter, I can report that a 20 minute phone conversation yields a great many nuggets of information that can be used to promote the angle of a piece. In a piece that seeks to explain just why super PACs didn’t turn out to be the horrible money-raising monsters designed to buy elections, The Times is having to find nuggets that support an angle that makes it look like they weren’t drinking their own kool-aid. This piece alleges that super PACs may be dangerous because in an effort to fight them — since they didn’t succeed in buying Romney into office or something — people may begin to find the idea of direct contributions to candidates an appealing option. And, as can be counted on, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland believes this “opens the floodgates even more” to, presumably, given the selective usage of quoting, the (at least in the eyes of New York Times readers) ‘crazies’ like Gingrich and Santorum.

Sigh.

The great, often-quoted, and iron-clad truth about the First Amendment is that it protects speech you like AND speech you don’t. Which is exactly the point that Smith makes here. And thank goodness for that because sometimes the craziest ideas turn out to be, in hindsight after people take the risk and implement them, some of the greatest world-changers for the better. Just look to our Constitution for proof of that.

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