Times Responds to Accusations of Left-Wing Favoritism on MoveOn Ad

Reporter Katharine Seelye addressed the controversy over the deep discount granted to the radical left-wing group MoveOn.org for its already infamous "General Petraeus Or General Betray Us?" ad in Friday's "Angered by an Antiwar Ad, Giuliani Seeks Equal Space."

"The New York Times came under attack Thursday by Rudolph W. Giuliani and a group of conservative Republicans for what they said was favoritism in the rate charged to MoveOn.org, a liberal group that opposes the war, for an advertisement attacking Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq.

"Mr. Giuliani, a Republican presidential candidate, sought - and received - space in Friday editions of the newspaper for an advertisement in which he praises General Petraeus. Neither the Giuliani campaign nor The Times's advertising department would disclose the price.

"The MoveOn.org advertisement ran in the main news section on Monday, the first day of General Petraeus's highly anticipated testimony to Congress about the progress of the Iraq war. Congressional Republicans and others condemned the advertisement, saying it impugned General Petraeus's integrity and was unpatriotic.

"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. He said The Times gave a 'discounted' rate to MoveOn.org, which had expressed the 'very excessive left-wing side of this dispute.'

"The advertisement has become a major talking point for Republicans. Several have demanded that the Democratic presidential candidates condemn the advertisement, which they have not done.

"Catherine J. Mathis, a spokeswoman for The New York Times Company, said the advertising department does not base its rates on political content. She also said the department does not disclose the rates it charges for individual advertisements. But she did say that 'similar types of ads are priced in the same way.' She said the department charges advocacy groups $64,575 for full-page, black-and-white advertisements that run on a 'standby' basis, meaning an advertiser can request a specific day and placement but is not guaranteed them."

But the MoveOn.org ad itself concluded (emphasis added):

"Today, before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us."

Giuliani's full-page ad criticizing MoveOn.org's ad (and Hillary Clinton's dismissive statements about Petraeus's testimony) appeared on page 15 of Friday's Times.

Meanwhile, the Times seems determined to strengthen the parallels between the anti-war leftists at MoveOn.org and its own editorial page. Friday's lead editorial, "No Exit, No Strategy," echoed MoveOn.org's charge against Gen. David Petraeus of "cooking the books."

"Mr. Bush's claims last night about how well the war is going are believable only if you use Pentagon numbers so obviously cooked that they call to mind the way Americans were duped into first supporting this war."