FEC follies

FEC follies

: There’s a considerable dustup today over an interview with Federal Election Commission Bradley Smith saying that under McCain-Feingold and a recent court decision overturning an internet exemption, the commission will have to go after bloggers, ascribing a value to the links they give candidates as campaign contributions.

I’m not sure how to read the smoke signals above this fire.

Mark Tapscott and others say it’s evidence of the perfidity of the FEC and McCain-Feingold.

Rex Hammock says it’s all hypothetical and will blow away like a nonstory. Punditguy says it’s all posturing:

It’s a tactic pure and simple, and I think Commissioner Smith is playing it up – TO THE BLOGOSPHERE. He’d like nothing more than for bloggers to FREAK OUT over his little interview on CNet and create havoc. Then the FEC will be forced to bow to the pressure and continue the Internet exemption portion of the 2002 campaign finance law. He’s no doubt seen the effect (Rathergate), and I’m sure he’s counting on his words to light a fire under…well, you know what I mean.

Will bloggers take the bait and crank up the volume?


And that’s a good thing.

I’m guessing that Smith et al are pushing McCain Feingold to its limit. It’s like Howard Stern saying he hopes the FCC fines somebody for saying “damn,” just to push it to its absurd limit.

Though hypothetical, the interview pushes the right fright buttons — like the government deciding that bloggers aren’t media.

And though hypothetical, the interview shows the potential danger of trying to restrict political speech — of all speech.

I go nutsy over the FCC and speech and FEC-haters then go nutsy over me not going nutsy over the FEC. It’s a complicated world. But I have to agree that government censoring media is the same slippery slope as government regulating political speech.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Seth Finkelstein sniffs out the hype in all this.