Saturday, January 5, 2008

C-J Engages in "Big-Money, Pay-to-Play Politics"

The Courier-Journal makes a snotty remark about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in today's "Forum Flashes," at the bottom of its editorial page. The C-J bemoans that McConnell "has raised a 'record-smashing' $11 million for his U.S. Senate re-election effort," calling it "big-money, pay-to-play politics."

It's odd that the C-J would get so worked up about $11 million, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money collected in the coffers of its owner, Gannett Co., Inc. According to Morningstar, Gannett earns revenue of more than $8 billion a year, and gross annual profits of more than $3.5 billion. The New York Times reports that "Gannett's profit margins are among the highest in the industry, at about 30 percent," and although "[i]t is not possible to break out the profits of The Courier-Journal, . . .many regional papers this size are flush with ads and are thriving, particularly compared to the bigger metro dailies."

Compared to profit margins like Gannett's, McConnell's fundraising looks downright paltry.

Coupled with all this big money and profit is the C-J's monopoly status as the only daily newspaper in Louisville. It is likely the only print medium from which most of its approximately 235,000 daily and 321,000 Sunday subscribers get their news and editorials.

The C-J is notoriously liberal and pro-Democratic Party on its editorial pages -- and its news coverage. (Case in point, its pro-library tax series.) Nor is the only other daily newspaper that competes with the C-J, The Lexington Herald-Leader, exactly a bastion of conservatism. Although both newspapers give token space to right-of-center columnists and letters to the editor, they reserve the most ink for their left-wing views.

Consequently, McConnell and other conservatives must raise money just to inform the electorate of their true positions on the issues, because the C-J's coverage is so slanted. And the amount of money that McConnell and other Republicans must raise is directly attributable to the advertising rates set by the C-J and the rest of the liberal media.

If the C-J finds a problem with "big-money, pay-to-play politics," then here's a proposition for it and other liberal media: give up your editorials financed by your billion-dollar corporations first before squawking about $11 million being raised by McConnell to get out his side of the political debate -- through ads that, ironically enough, will ultimately pad the profits of those big media companies that attack him. Or give McConnell free advertising to offset the biased coverage that he has to pay to rebut.

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