CJR takes a much-needed look at a key, overlooked media story from the campaign season. It's about the way newspapers provided wholesale distribution (at a cost, naturally) to 22 million homes in swing states for a right-wing documentary about the evils of Islam, Obsession.
And how newspapers themselves then provided free publicity in the form of news coverage to document the controversy being kicked up by newspapers distributing the DVD.
Most publishers insisted they had no choice but to cash the right-wing checks and ship out the DVD's because newspaper can't censor advertisers. But as one readers asked in a letter to a North Carolina newspaper, "Are you planning to accept money from those who would like to stir up hatred against immigrants from Mexico?"
Decades ago, conservative activists moved to the forefront of information wars when they embraced direct mail as a way to spread propaganda. Do newspaper inserts represent the next chapter?