I guess the week we're celebrating the 15th anniversary of WND is as good a time as ever to answer a question I get every day during election years: Why does WND accept political ads from those with whom we disagree?
There are several reasons – legal, philosophical, journalistic, corporate and moral. So I will try to cover all the bases for you here. (Maybe I can use this column as part of a form response to the thousands of queries I expect to get throughout the remainder of 2012.)
- Firstly, I believe it's the right thing to do to accept all political advertising in a free society – or, as I call it, "the vestiges of a once free society." Our Founding Fathers enshrined in the First Amendment specific protections for political speech. I know some of you misguided people out there think James Madison authored the First Amendment to protect pornography or to ensure that the church had no influence on civil government. But that's just not historical reality. The founders wanted to use the Constitution, the highest law in the land, to assert an inalienable, God-given right to express your views, no matter how unpopular or unconventional they might be. In that same spirit, WND was created. One of our goals was to give voice to the voiceless. But another goal was to ensure that we provided the broadest spectrum of political opinion to be found anywhere in the English-speaking world. And I think we've done that. From extreme left to extreme right and every point of view between is represented in WND's opinion and commentary sections. That's purposeful. It's something you won't find in the state-sponsored media, the semi-official, play-it-safe, corporate establishment press, the "conservative" media, the Soros-sponsored media or the AOL/Huffington-controlled electronic scandal sheet. You don't have to agree with Joseph Farah or the WND management to be published in the pages of WND. You just have to have a viewpoint worth hearing or debating. It's the same with advertising. Why would we freely publish opinions we find repugnant, but reject paid advertising of the same kind of political views? Would that make sense?
- Secondly, I appreciate it when other media take the same view. On occasion, as you know, I seek to buy advertisements of various kinds in other media venues – like billboards and TV ads. I've been turned down more than I like to mention for disseminating political speech others don't like. I find that distasteful, unprofessional and the kind of self-censorship that can render the First Amendment moot by cultural caveat. I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world if I criticized those who do that but didn't practice what I preach. Wouldn't I?
- Thirdly, sad to say, there are actual laws governing what media can and can't do with regard to political advertising. Those laws are changing all the time. But if WND were to accept only political ads with which I agreed, not only would there be precious few political ads in WND, but those we accepted might be deemed legally as political contributions in and of themselves, as opposed to simply paid political messages.
- Fourthly, I have a lot of confidence in WND readers to be among the most discerning political consumers in the world. I think it's great when those politicians I detest spend their money trying to woo WND readers to their point of view with political ads. I would rather see them spend the money in WND than in a forum read by weaker-minded, less educated and more gullible members of society.
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We live in what is still, despite recent trends, one of the freest societies in the world. We shouldn't be afraid of open political debate. That's one of the reasons WND exists – to foster that debate and lively discussion. It makes us freer, not less free.
And that's why you can expect to see political ads throughout this year that might seem to represent a contradiction from my political views or the perceived political views of WND's management and staff – just as you saw them in 2008 and 2004 and 2000.