NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2007 — The public editor of the New York Times yesterday said the newspaper made a mistake when it sold a discounted ad to liberal group MoveOn.org.
In a column titled “Betraying Its Own Best Interests,” Clark Hoyt said, “the ad violated The Times’s own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to.”
The ad featured the headline “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”
“The ad infuriated conservatives, dismayed many Democrats and ignited charges that the liberal Times aided its friends at MoveOn.org with a steep discount in the price paid to publish its message, which might amount to an illegal contribution to a political action committee,” Hoyt wrote. “In more than 4,000 e-mail messages, people around the country raged at The Times with words like ‘despicable,’ ‘ disgrace’ and ‘treason.’ ”
In his column, Hoyt said conservative group Freedoms Watch asked him to investigate.
“The answer to the first question is that MoveOn.org paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies,” Hoyt wrote. “The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake.”