NY Times' Seelye, public editor give conflicting reports on whether Times promised to run Giuliani ad on specific day

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

In a New York Times article, Katharine Q. Seelye reported that MoveOn.org paid the Times $77,508 for its controversial General Betray Us" ad, and that Rudy Giuliani's campaign said it "would not pay the difference" between the "standby" rate and its regular rate for an ad it ran in response to MoveOn.org's because the Times "did not guarantee when it would run" Giuliani's ad. But three days earlier, Times public editor Clark Hoyt had written that Giuliani "demanded space in the following Friday's Times to answer MoveOn.org" and "got it." Further, Seelye herself had previously reported Giuliani's intention to request space in that day's paper for a rebuttal ad.

In a September 26 New York Times article, Katharine Q. Seelye reported that MoveOn.org paid the Times $77,508 "after the newspaper revealed that its advertising department had undercharged the organization for" its controversial "General Betray Us" ad. The Times "should have charged $142,083," according to the article, "because MoveOn wanted the advertisement to run on a specific day ...and was therefore not entitled to the 'standby' rate." It also reported that Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's campaign said it "would not pay the difference" between the "standby" rate and its regular rate for an ad it ran September 14 in response to MoveOn.org's because the Times "did not guarantee when it would run" Giuliani's ad. But in his September 23 New York Times column, Times public editor Clark Hoyt wrote that Giuliani "demanded space in the following Friday's Times to answer MoveOn.org. He got it -- and at the same $64,575 rate that MoveOn.org paid." Further, Seelye herself had previously reported Giuliani's intention to request space in the September 14 edition of the Times for a rebuttal ad.

On September 10, the Times ran an advertisement from MoveOn.org critical of Gen. David H. Petraeus. In response, the Times ran an ad from Giuliani's campaign, which charged that "[t]he Democrats orchestrated the attacks on Petraeus." Both MoveOn.org and Giuliani's campaign were charged the paper's discounted "standby" advertising rate of $64,575. Responding to conservative outcry over the rate charged to MoveOn.org, Hoyt wrote in his September 23 column that MoveOn.org "should have paid $142,083" for its advertisement, and that it paid the lower rate because an advertising sales representative "made a mistake." According to Hoyt, "Catherine Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for The Times, said... the advertising representative failed to make it clear that for that rate The Times could not guarantee the Monday placement but left MoveOn.org with the understanding that the ad would run then. She added, 'That was contrary to our policies.'" In response, according to the Times, MoveOn.org said it would pay the difference in advertising rates "out of an abundance of caution."

With regard to the Giuliani ad, however, Seelye reported in her September 26 article, "A spokesman for the Giuliani campaign said that it would not pay the difference because The Times did not guarantee when it would run the advertisement," and also reported that a Times spokeswoman confirmed the Giuliani campaign's account. But, according to Hoyt, Giuliani "demanded" -- successfully -- that his ad be run on a specific day:

In the fallout from the ad, Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor and a Republican presidential candidate, demanded space in the following Friday's Times to answer MoveOn.org. He got it -- and at the same $64,575 rate that MoveOn.org paid.

Additionally, on September 13, Giuliani made clear he intended for his ad to run the following day, according to Seelye herself in a September 14 Times article:

During a campaign stop in Atlanta on Thursday, Mr. Giuliani told reporters that MoveOn.org and The Times had engaged in character assassination against General Petraeus.

"We are going to ask The New York Times to allow us tomorrow to print an ad that will obviously take the opposite view," Mr. Giuliani said.

The American Conservative Union has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, which alleges that "MoveOn's acceptance of the discount constitutes acceptance of a soft money contribution from a prohibited source (the New York Times Company) in excess of federal contribution limits." In response, blogger Lane Hudson has stated that he has filed a formal complaint with the FEC, which alleges that that the difference in price between the discounted and regular advertising rates "is an in-kind corporate contribution" to Giuliani's campaign, which far exceeds the limits allowed by law."

From the September 26 New York Times article, headlined "MoveOn Pays The Times $77,508 for Ad Cost:

Among those attacking the advertisement has been Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Republican presidential candidate, who ran his own advertisement later in the week. He paid the same standby rate that MoveOn paid.

Lane Hudson, a liberal blogger (www.newsfortheleft.com), filed a complaint Monday saying the Giuliani campaign should pay The Times an additional $77,000 for its advertisement; otherwise it would be accepting an illegal corporate contribution that was over the legal limit.

A spokesman for the Giuliani campaign said that it would not pay the difference because The Times did not guarantee when it would run the advertisement. "Our ad not only met the acceptability standards of The New York Times, but it was placed at the standby rate with no commitment it would run on a specific date," the spokesman said.

Ms. Mathis, The Times spokeswoman, confirmed that the newspaper did not commit to a specific date.

From Hoyt's September 23 New York Times column:

In the fallout from the ad, Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor and a Republican presidential candidate, demanded space in the following Friday's Times to answer MoveOn.org. He got it -- and at the same $64,575 rate that MoveOn.org paid.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Person
Kit Seelye
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