Wow, that’s what being instalanched is like

Wow, that’s what being instalanched is like:
Actually, I have had the opportunity to be deconstructed by a community
of left-wingers who accused me of being an operative of Karl Rove, so
it’s nice to get a little taste from the other direction (see some of
the comments on the previous post). However, it’s also nice to see
someone like Greg Wallace make a post on his weblog that captures somewhat better my real point.

That point is that non-controversies like “links to campaign sites are
going to be banned by regulators” are like shouting wolf over and over
(Greg has a great list of them.). There are real threats to freedoms
and real fights with government agencies and real challenges to
bloggers that need to be fought. Every time I see one of these
fictitious threats flare up, I see it as a waste of time of both the
right and the left. For the life of me, I can’t think of a constiuency
for this “crackdown” on either end or at any point along the political
spectrum. Incumbants nor challengers benefit. Keeping citizens from
linking to the website of the candidates they support is not a winning
issue for any politician. However, if someone can find me a member of
congress who thinks his supporters should not be able to link to his
campaign website, then I’ll be glad to devote a portion of my blogging
efforts to sharing that strange point-of-view with his or her

  • mark glaze

    In a recent interview with CNET, Federal Election Commissioner Brad Smith claimed that as a result of new campaign laws and and a recent court decision, online news organizations and bloggers may soon wake up to find their activities regulated by government bureaucrats. That would indeed be troubling, if it were true. Fortunately, Mr. Smith – an avowed opponent of most campaign finance regulation – is simply wrong.

    The issue the FEC – and the courts – are grappling with is how to deal with online political ads by candidates and parties, and with paid advertising that is coordinated with those groups. As the Internet becomes a vital new force in politics, we are simply going through a natural transition as we work out how, and when, to apply longstanding campaign finance principles – designed to fight corruption – to political expenditures on the Web. Mr. Smith has advocated an extreme position that politicians, parties and outside groups can pay for Internet advertising with “soft money” – unlimited, unregulated checks from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. A federal court rightly rejected that position, saying that the new ban on soft money in our elections obviously applies to Internet advertising, too.

    These laws are decidedly NOT aimed at online press, commentary or blogs, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was carefully drafted to exclude them. The FEC has now been asked to initiate a rulemaking to work out how to deal with different kinds of Internet political expenditures, and there will be plenty of opportunity for public commentary. The Commission’s duty then will be to distinguish candidate and party expenditures, and coordinated independent expenditures, on the Internet (which should be subject to campaign finance law like any other expenditures) from activity by bloggers, Internet news services and citizens acting on their own that should remain unregulated, free and robust.

    Mr. Smith’s comments are obviously designed to instigate a cyberspace furor to pressure Congress to reverse the court decision requiring that paid political ads on the Internet should be treated like any other paid advertisements. Mr. Smith has a right to try to win converts to his anti-regulatory philosophy, but he has an obligation to present the issues fairly and forthrightly, and his comments to CNET fail both tests.

    For more information on why the sky is not falling, see a chapter on the history of the FEC regulation and deregulation of the Internet by Trevor Potter, former FEC Chairman and president of the Campaign Legal Center, in the Brookings Institution’s New Campaign Finance Sourcebook at

    For the relevant court decision, please check out the Campaign Legal Center’s website at

    For information on the future FEC rulemaking, see the agency’s website at

    # # #

  • greg

    Thanks so much, Rex. I do wish everyone would simply take a deep breath on this, but I fear that’s not the case. Too bad, because when we really do need to mount opposition to something, we will have spent ourselves on silliness such as this.

    Lemmings. They’re all like so many lemmings.

    And that’s an amazing piece from Mark Glaze. I’m going to refer back to it.

  • Gaby

    Thank you for the info!