Back in 2012, I penned a piece excoriating the media for its regular misstatements about the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling. The opinion, which deemed certain portions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, has continued to serve as a media boogeyman for all problems with money in politics.
Back then, I disclosed my own concerns about certain aspects of the opinion (even though my dad Floyd Abrams argued it pro bono for Senator Mitch McConnell on the winning side). As I wrote, we don’t have to embrace the opinion to long for the media to accurately convey the ruling:
My personal view on the nuances of the ruling is beside the point. This is about what the ruling said and didn’t say, what it did and didn’t do. And about how so many in the media keep getting the ruling and its impact dead wrong.
I remain flabbergasted that now, years later, even a venerable and well-funded and researched program like 60 Minutes would not just parrot the errors of other media organizations about the opinion and its impact, but seemingly base an entire piece around those misconceptions.
In my 2012 analysis, I reviewed the two most common media myths and inventions about the opinion:
Myth 1: The Court invalidated disclosure requirements in political advertising, thereby allowing donors to remain anonymous.
Wrong. The Court ruled just the opposite and upheld, by an 8-1 vote, the McCain-Feingold requirement of identifying donors.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.