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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stephen Colbert and Campaign Finance

Stephen Colbert continues to blur the line between real news and fake news.

Our chapter on elections and campaigns discusses the complex rules on campaign finance. And our chapter on mass media explains the corporate structure of the news business. Colbert is making an impact in both areas. Yesterday, he asked the Federal Election Commission for an advisory opinion about his SuperPAC. Politico reports:

If the six commissioners of the FEC take Colbert’s request seriously, and decides to grant him wide latitude in using “The Colbert Report” to promote his PAC – both very big ifs – it “could have a sweeping effect. That would be a troubling development,” said Paul Ryan, a lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit group that pushes for tighter restrictions on money in politics.

Likewise, said [Public Citizen's Lisa] Gilbert, if the commission goes the other way, ruling that any airtime Colbert devotes to promoting the PAC should be treated, and disclosed, as a so-called in-kind contribution from Viacom, it could “have a real election law impact,” in part by restricting the freedom of a handful of high-profile Republicans who serve as paid Fox News pundits and are affiliated with PACs, including Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Karl Rove and Dick Morris.

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