Math for journalists (Koch edition): Free spending is not free speech

By Christopher B. Daly 

Kudos to The New Republic for this takedown of a recent Wall Street Journal editorial. The Murdoch newspaper was trying to gin up sympathy for the Koch brothers, the fossil-fuel billionaires who pour big money into the conservative Meme Factory and into political campaigns. The Journal tried to make the case that the Kochs have actually been outspent by organized labor — without noting that there are two Koch brothers and 14.5 million labor union members. When the Kochs are treated as individuals (as the Constitution would indicate), the TNR piece calculates that each Koch brother is exercising the same level of “political speech” as about half a million union members.

Can anyone really argue that amplifying those two voices by the millions of dollars they have to spend makes the country a better place? Does their wealth make their ideas more worth listening to? Does their wealth make them wiser? Does it mean they love their country more than others? Why should they have a megaphone that their neighbors do not have? If they want to speak, let them speak. If they want to publish, let them publish. And let them do so without limitation. But spending money is not protected by the First Amendment (and nor should it be).

As a First Amendment militant, I believe speech should be free. It shouldn’t be paid for.

[Note: the following graphic is merely suggestive. For it to be accurate, it would have to include hundreds of thousands of separate tiny images for union members.]



Filed under First Amendment, Journalism, Politics

2 responses to “Math for journalists (Koch edition): Free spending is not free speech

  1. David

    The Koches are a cancer upon the country–but compare their megaphone to Rupert Murdoch’s, which, unlike theirs:

    1. Is more deceptive because of the patina of journalistic objectivity and authority his media have;

    2. Is hugely profitable, while the Koches’ at least costs them money (although they view it as an investment to help their financial interests);

    3. Utilizes, in part, publicly owned airwaves free of charge; and

    4. Has engaged in widespread criminal activity–phone hacking and bribing public officials–in at least one country.

    The “megaphone” reference was, incidentally, used by the NY Times when, to its credit, it endorsed Jon Corzine’s Republican opponent for the Senate, citing the precedential danger of Corzine’s spending, but liberals/progressives voted for him anyway.


  2. JoAnn Chateau

    Reblogged this on Aware & Fair and commented:
    Prof. Chris says, “I believe speech should be free. It shouldn’t be paid for.”


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