September 23, 2007

Times Admits Pricing Miscue on "Betray Us" Ad

I'm encouraged that the New York Times has decided to explain what happened regarding the below-market pricing they gave MoveOn.Org for the "General Betray Us" advertisement uncovered here.

It is perhaps ironic that I never got fired up as much about this story as have some others (I only touched on it again here to note my surprise, and here to note the Times first explanation).

Reading Hoyt's explanation, my primary thought is relief that this was an apparent mistake (and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here considering their eventual transparency on this issue), and hope that they'll be forgiving of the Times advertising person that sold the ad below market rate.

I can't quite bring myself to be as forgiving of Steph Jespersen, the executive who approved the ad, or of the self-serving argument of publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger, that "If we’re going to err, it’s better to err on the side of more political dialogue. ... Perhaps we did err in this case. If we did, we erred with the intent of giving greater voice to people."

Somehow, that argument seems quite hollow coming from a man who in a previous war, hoped that American soldiers would get shot because "It's the other guy's country." (h/t Ed Driscoll)

The saying goes that "a fish rots from the head," so if anyone gets taken to task over this at the Times, I hope that the senior leadership at the times looks squarely in the mirror.

The cost would not have been a factor if the executives of the Times had followed their own polices, and declined to run the ad in the first place.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 23, 2007 02:39 PM

Since we're talking about fringe groups going too far -

When will the Republicans denounce the extremist group Values Voters? At the Presidential debate the group held for GOP candidates this week, event organizers invited the Church of God Choir, from Springfield, Ohio, to sing "God Bless America" -- except the lyrics were rewritten. Instead of a song about "the land that I love," and "home sweet home," this version condemns the country, saying we've all turned against God, and that He won't bless us.

Twisting and distorting the words of "God Bless America" is disgusting and an insult to all Americans. The GOP should be ashamed for supporting a fringe group like Values Voters.

Posted by: Other Ed at September 23, 2007 03:51 PM

Yep, Other Ed. Because changing the words to "God Bless America" is directly comparable to undermining the historical political neutrality of the military by referring to American soldiers as "betrayers", and is also being done by a group that encourages desertions from the armed forces and is funded by and allied to groups that advocate the overthrow of the United States by force.

Exactly the same thing. Totally.

Because, y'know, it IS. Right?

Posted by: DaveP. at September 23, 2007 05:03 PM

Who? Values Voters?

I can say that I haven't condemned them because I've never heard of them. And suddenly, Ted Haggard comes to mind.

Posted by: Pablo at September 23, 2007 05:22 PM

Oh come on CY!

You’re usually reasonably skeptical when it comes to the NYT. However, after reading this post, I completely disagree with your “let’s give the benefit of the doubt” position.

Eli Pariser, the executive director of, told me that his group called The Times on the Friday before Petraeus’s appearance on Capitol Hill and asked for a rush ad in Monday’s paper. He said The Times called back and “told us there was room Monday, and it would cost $65,000.” Pariser said there was no discussion about a standby rate. “We paid this rate before, so we recognized it,” he said. Advertisers who get standby rates aren’t guaranteed what day their ad will appear, only that it will be in the paper within seven days.” is the most telling paragraph from that editorial, and completely out of place…almost as if Rove planted it himself. The ONLY way this “oops, our bad” after-the-fact ploy works is if you believe the statement made by Pariser is a lie.

If you want to go down that road, then a reasonable person asks themselves ‘what would Pariser have to gain by this lie?” Since I can’t come to a reasonable explanation for why he’d lie, I’m going to assume the statement is true.

If this statement is true, then it seems the NYT needs to be investigated by various agencies.

To come back after a week accusations, deflections, and now admitted lies, this editorial is an insult to anyone with an IQ above 10. This is an attempt to take enough responsibility to make the situation go away, which today means none at all. “Mistakes” are merely human, after all. Nothing to see here, move along. These editorial Barbradies are quick to assign the smallest misfunction in government to Bush, but unwilling and unable to accept ANY responsibility for their own company. Some lowly “advertising sales representative” they are willing to throw under the bus and we’re supposed to accept that this rogue “advertising sales representative” works in a vaccum, without supervision. Either scenario, they unintentionally disclose, is ridiculously dysfunctional.

What the NYT did with this editorial is not act of moral courage or any compunction to act decently, but because the consequence was too much to bear. They needed to explain themselves, and the usual suspects ran to hide. Furthermore, would-be customers started demanding the below-market rate, which the NYT couldn’t afford since its circulation is dwindling.

And the ad didn’t just infuriate “conservatives,” it infuriated anyone with common decency. To narrow those upset with the ad to just conservatives is disingenuous.

And by the way, if that price was a “mistake,” why was policy changed to offer the mistake to everyone?

Posted by: Lauren at September 23, 2007 05:58 PM

When did Values Voters say that they had bought the Republican Party and own it?

Cause that is what MoveOn said about the Democratic Party.

Posted by: C-C-G at September 23, 2007 07:15 PM

Having heard a recital of Move On greatest hits (failing to stop the Clinton impeachment, or block
military action in Afghanistan or Iraq, the Bush/
Hitler commercial, et al) It seems theie efforts are counterproductive; to say the least. That doesn't negate the fact that the N. Y. Times coordinated this attack on General Petraeus, on the day of the presentation of his report.

Interesting hat tip; relating to the previous post; re the Blackwater detail and the incident
last week. The Jones Commission reports the high
degree of JAM (Sadr's militia) in the Interior Ministry ranks; and one oftheir goals is to neutralize US diplomatic & military objectives in Iraq. one of the members of the infamous Jones Commission reference in the previous post is John Timoney, the former Kroll consultant, who's arguing for the introduction of automatic weapons as part of the Miami police department's arsenal.

Posted by: narciso at September 23, 2007 08:35 PM