CINCINNATI (TDB) -- New York Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt reports the newspaper "gave critics ammunition" by charging MoveOn.org $64,575 for the Petraeus/Betray Us ad, a fee that should have cost $142,083. And now the argument is going to swirl that the Times told MoveOn for its ad about Petraeus: Don't pay us.
Hoyt says NYT adversting officials have now admitted they seriously undercharged MoveOn after at first insisting the $64,575 price was correct. The ad has enraged conservatives and drew the ire of some Democrats (including this blog) who considered it a breach of good taste to use inflammatory language best reserved for traitors deserving firing squads or military prisons.
Hoyt said, "I'd have demanded changes to eliminate 'Betray Us,' a particularly low blow when aimed at a soldier."
He did a long take out in his column "The Public Editor" for Sunday's Times.
Bradley A. Blakeman,who heads an organization called Freedom Watch complained about the price MoveOn received. Freedom Watch plans to run an ad in the Times criticizing Iranian President Mahmous Ahmadinejad's visit to Colombia University. He wants the stand by rate that MoveOn received.
"I want to thank the ombudsman of the New York time sfor reaching the fair conclusion that MoveOn.ord received a discounted rate for their outrageous ad that appeared in the September 10th edition. It's pretty clear to me that MoveOn.org owes the New York Times $75,508 for the incorrect fee and Freedom's Watch is calling on the New York times to charge MoveOn.org for the discrepancy, otherwise it appears the New York Times made an illegal corporate contribution to the radical left wing group."
MoveOn, of course, is not radical. It doesn't want the U.S. government overthrown, it doesn't favor the suspension of civil liberties. It only wants the war to end, and favors a government run by progressive Democrats rather than a government run by Republicans.
Sadly, the Times error has played into the right's hands. It stumbled. The newspaper looks like another wartime casualty.