possible regulation of political blogs?

From CNET News link
"Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.
In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines."

Haiya! Well, can bloggers claim the right to 'political speech'. I may be wrong on this but i recall an argument i heard awhile ago about the corporations' right to political speech. i.e corporations should be able to contribute to any political party as a form of expression. JJR, please elucidate if you would? I rather doubt that regulation will happen, but hey, who knew we'd be reading about extraordinary rendition


Blogger jjray said...

My read on the issue is that it is not that big of a deal (although the Republicans may run into some problems with the rule). What this is all about is whether or not to extend the McCain Feingold campaign finance laws to the internet. What McCain Feingold does, among other things, is put limits on the amount of money that can be given by an individual to a political campaign per year (I think $2000 per person is the limit, married couple can give $4000). This applies not only to cash but also good and services.

So, if the rule applied, the issue becomes what is the value of web pages set up to support a candidate on the net? What is the value of a favorable article on a blog? Or a link to a campaign web site? I don't know but it can't be much per person and certainly won't hit the campaign finance limits as long as you are not also giving large amounts of cash. The headache is for the campaigns that would have to somehow keep tract of the web articles written about the candidate and then somehow assign a value (as well has collect information about each author to submit to the FEC).

Note in the story on CNET that the Republican appoinees to the Federal Election Commission were the ones voting again this rule. The Democrats didn't seem to care. Democrat bloggers generally are not also shelling out $2000 per year to a campaign. What the Republicans though? What about Talon News and Bobby Eberle? This sort of rule may shut down web operations like Talon News or at least create big problems for them unless so-called web news outlets are exempted. Apparently the Democrat commissioners on the FEC have so far blocked an exemption. Shall be interesting to see how it plays out.

A bigger, related issue on (which I ran across while checking on your issue) is extending the McCain Feingold cap limits (or modified cap limits) to "527" organizations like Moveon.org. In the last presidential election, wealthy, progressive individuals such as George Soros were able to give many millions of dollars to a single 527 to run ads against a political candidate (in this case, George Bush). Sens. McCain and Feingold (he's a Dem.) have proposed imposing a $25,000 cap on 527s most of which are currently liberal. It would hamper organizations like Moveon.org but something tells me they'll still raise lots of money and be a force.

3/06/2005 9:20 PM  
Blogger Afromusing said...

Thanks JJR for the explanation!!

3/08/2005 6:16 PM  

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