The New York Times director of acceptable advertising (a job title that sounds rather than being the minister of silly walks) gives a good explanation of policies that led to the pricing of the now notorious MoveOn Patreus ad — far better than the company spokesmen last week.
The MoveOn.org ad was published because it complied with our standards. This ad was also accepted because it is our ongoing desire to keep our advertising columns as open as possible to the public, which we believe is a First Amendment responsibility. I would also point out that this ad was similar to other ads that criticized President Bush, former President Bill Clinton, and countless other public officials.
Within the category of political or advocacy advertising it is common practice throughout the newspaper industry to offer a standby rate in addition to open rate advertising. When a group buys a standby ad, it can request a particular date for it to be run, but receives no guarantee that it can appear that day. The lower cost of such ads reflects the flexibility that gives us. Any political or advocacy group calling up today to request a standby ad would be quoted the same rate that MoveOn.org paid.