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Can Advertising Journalists Be Trusted On Independent Expenditures?

I was talking with a friend yesterday about the astounding number of independent expenditures that are influencing congressional campaigns this year, when I noted the surprising lack of specific stories about particular expenditures as they’re applied by particular groups in particular races. I found it odd that mainstream corporate journalists weren’t publishing more stories about these transactions, as they give a good deal of original context to this year’s elections.

At the time, I suggested that, perhaps, given that there aren’t as many serious journalists employed as there used to be, they’re all busy, and just can’t get to the independent expenditure story.

This morning, as I read the comments of West Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Jesse Johnson about the threat to national security from independent expenditures, a more troubling thought comes to mind.

Why would corporate journalists spend much time reporting on specific independent expenditures used to warp congressional elections? Most of those independent expenditures pay for advertisements. A very large chunk of that advertising is placed on news shows on the radio and television, and in newspapers.

Unsourced independent expenditures are a huge new stream of income for corporate journalism businesses. These independent expenditures are keeping journalists in their jobs. Commercial journalism operations are being directly paid a great deal of money by the mysterious organizations that are making independent political expenditures in public elections.

Why on earth would corporate journalists want to investigate the system that’s putting bread on their tables?

How can we trust journalists who are deriving their income from an advertising system that’s currently being filled with independent expenditures?

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