Action Alert!

Conflict of interest

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Dec 11, 2003

Like Diogenes (see below), you may have noticed that most mass-media outlets are quite happy with the Supreme Court decision to uphold restrictions on campaign funding. Ordinarily you can count on the media to uphold free speech. Not this time.

Wonder why? It's simple, really.

If you're running for political office, you need to get your message out to the voters. There are 3 ways, essentially, to do that:

  1. You can talk to voters personally: ring doorbells and shake hands. That's not easy, particularly in a large district; for a statewide or national election it's not a viable option.
  2. You can buy advertisements, circulate flyers, and send out mail. That's expensive; it requires cash. And now there are tighter restrictions on cash.
  3. You can use the mass media. If they're sympathetic, reporters will provide you with plenty of free publicity. If they're unsympathetic, you're out of luck.
In short, campaign-finance restrictions serve the interests of the mass media. The argument is obvious, really. Strange that you never see it in print...

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: principle not pragmatism - Dec. 15, 2003 6:57 PM ET USA

    Campaign finance laws serve the interests of the 2 major parties and thwart any attempt to advance the idea of a third or fourth party to threaten their monoply of the political process. Ask anyone who has gone through the the efforts to promote an alternative to the Democrat and Republican party. The establishment does everything it can to make the process more difficult with great sucess.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Dec. 12, 2003 7:38 PM ET USA

    "[C]ampaign-finance restrictions serve the interests of the mass media.... Strange that you never see it in print..." I have written several letters to editors of metropolitan dailies pointing out that fact over the years. None of which has seen print.