April 03, 2015

What A Difference Ten Days Makes When It Comes To The New York Times' Position On Corporate Speech

It was that recently that the New York Times, a corporation itself, was running a piece about how horrible it was that the courts were allowing corporations (well, corporations other than the New York Times Company,) to exercise First Amendment rights.

But as Damon Root notes over at Reason, this corporation that has been complaining that corporate speech rights are a threat to America because it allows corporations to use their vast economic resources to sway public opinion and government officials even since the Citizens United decision five years ago, is positively celebrating the corporate speech of corporations that caused the weakening of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in at least two states.

Five years ago, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the editorial board of The New York Times denounced the very idea of allowing for-profit corporations to engage in robust political speech. If we the people allow corporations to use “their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding,” the Times declared, democracy itself will be imperiled.

I was reminded of that anti-corporate editorial today when I read the latest editorial from The New York Times’ editorial board:

Big corporations like Walmart, Apple, and General Electric and their executives have done the right thing by calling on officials in Indiana and Arkansas to reject “religious freedom” laws designed to give businesses and religious groups legal cover should they deny service to gay couples.

The Times then urged those big corporations to use their vast treasuries to help elect candidates who support gay rights, gay marriage, and the expansion of anti-discrimination laws.

I don't understand. The New York Times has been against corporate speech and politicking for years, and most vehemently since the Supreme Court forbade restrictions of corporate political speech five years ago. How can they take this position now?

Oh, yeah -- they have corporations taking positions that the editorial board supports, so they are suddenly reconciled to such speech -- until the next time someone expresses what the "paper of record" views as a heterodox opinion.

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