It seems the non-profit political group Citizens United (Yes, the same Citizens United from the now infamous and discredited Supreme Court decision!) is trying to have its cake and eat it too.
President of Citizens United David Bossie is upset that CNN and NBC are scheduled to broadcast a documentary on Hillary Clinton, or in his words "a puff-piece on an overly-celebrated figure on the left." He is calling on both networks to air his own organization's film about Hillary Clinton to balance out the networks' miniseries on the possible 2016 contender. Just the day before the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus "threatened to pull NBC and CNN's access to the 2016 Republican primary debates unless those companies pull their current Hillary Clinton-related film projects."
If this appears at all hypocritical to you, it's because it blatantly is.
In the run up to the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary, Citizens United challenged a law restricting the organization from airing a 30 minute film disparaging candidate Hillary Clinton. Much to the satisfaction of Citizens United, the successful court challenge led to the Supreme Court striking down a century old ban on corporate funded electioneering in federal elections.
Now three years after the Court's controversial decision, Citizens United is arguing against two corporations airing what may or may not be electioneering in favor of a potential 2016 presidential candidate. It appears Citizens United is only in favor of corporate funded electioneering if the electioneering supports its favored candidates or attacks its opponents.
In their own brief to the Supreme Court, Citizens United argued, "The government does not have any legitimate interest...in policing the marketplace of ideas for signs of "distortion,' [or] equalizing the relative voice of participants in political discourse." Instead, Citizens United is much more content naming itself the "police".
Before Citizens United v. FEC, we could have a public debate about whether or not the CNN and NBC documentaries really did constitute unlawful corporate electioneering. But post-Citizens United the question is moot. Corporations are free to spend unlimited sums to influence the outcome of elections.
In the future a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens Unitedwill once again empower Congress to regulate corporate spending in our elections. But now, and forever, nobody gets to have their cake and eat it too.
Office: Common Cause Massachusetts
Tags: Citizens United