MoveOn.org has paid the New York Times $77,508 after the newspaper confirmed that its ad department had undercharged the group for its controversial ad that called General David Petraeus “General Betray Us.”
Many critics, including Vice President Dick Cheney and several Republican presidential candidates, had charged the newspaper with giving subsidized ad rates to MoveOn because it sympathized with its views, the Times acknowledged Wednesday.
The New York Post had disclosed that the Times charged the left-wing group only about $65,000 for the full-page ad, while the “open rate” for such an ad is $181,000.
The ad in the Sept. 10 issue of the Times accused Petraeus of "cooking the books for the White House."
Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., called for hearings into the discount, maintaining that it “could constitute an unlawful campaign contribution” to the political action group.
The Times at first maintained that it charged MoveOn the same “standby” rate of $64,575 that it charges all advocacy groups for a full-page ad that can run anytime during a 7-day period.
The sales representative should have charged $142,083, according to Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis, because MoveOn wanted the ad to run on a specific day and therefore was not entitled to the “standby” rate.
Mathis was quoted on Sunday as saying the ad rep had “made a mistake” in granting the discount.
However, when asked if the sales representative was sympathetic to MoveOn, Mathis said on Tuesday: “The salesperson did not see the content of the ad at the time the rate was quoted. There was no bias.”
Columnist George Will wrote on Wednesday: “The Times, a media corporation that is a fountain of detailed editorial instructions about how the rest of the world should conduct its business, seems confused about how it conducts its own.”
GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani ran an ad of his own in the Times, attacking the MoveOn ad as a “character assassination” of Petraeus, commander of the American forces in Iraq. He paid the “standby” rate.
According to the Times, a Giuliani spokesman insisted he was entitled to the standby rate because the Times did not guarantee when it would run the ad.
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