Along with The Daily Kos, I was party to a significant decision for bloggers and free speech rights.
- The 2007 U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) found that political blogs and bloggers are media for the purposes of U.S. Electoral Law.
- Suddenly blogs were media and for the past thirteen years, the legacy press has been trying to catch up.
MARY BONO vs MICHAEL L GRACE
In 2006 Bono sued me through the FEC – Federal Election Commission. I was backing the Democrat Candidate in Palm Springs, with Bono claiming I was violating FEC law.
- Since I had managed to buy www.marybono.org and created a website satirizing Congresswoman Mary Bono.
- She was furious, having her staff continue to call and threaten me. I was even harassed by the Palm Springs Police.
“The FEC rejected allegations that writer-producer Michael L. Grace made unreported expenditures when he leased space on a computer server to create a blog that advocated the defeat of Congresswoman (R), Mary Bono, in November 2006 election.
Grace created a website to criticize Rep. Mary Bono, allegedly making unlawful, unreported expenditures in coordination with Bono’s opponent by blogging as “Mary Bono” on an obvious parody site.
Grace fought this one back by himself, pro se, and won a unanimously ruled that his voluntary expenditures (if any) were perfectly legal and that his obvious parody was protected under the law.
He argued the content of the blog sites would lead a reasonable person to believe that Grace’s Blog was not actually the blogging of Mary Bono. Instead, this was, as Grace contends, a political satire that does not violate the Act.
Bono’s lawyers, a high-powered D.C. firm, argued that Bono’s constituents would believe this was an official website for the congresswoman!
Which was difficult to buy since Bono was portrayed half the time as an aging Playboy Bunny!…”
DAILY KOS is Media
The FEC determined the popular left-wing blog The Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas publisher, who had been sued by conservative blogger John Bambenek, falls “squarely” within the media exemption and is therefore not subject to federal regulation under the Act; ipso facto: under U.S. law blogs are formally recognized as media organizations.
Essentially the decision reaffirmed the right of American bloggers to exercise their free speech rights without being subject to U.S. electoral law. In the same way that traditional and legacy media organizations can.
So, along with the Daily Kos, I’m very proud to be part of that great cloud of witnesses, including Larry Flynt, who has advocated for freedom of expression.
- Political blogs are now media, along with tweets and legacy mainstream journalism.
- From Axios to the Huffington Post.
- The FEC decision was covered nationally in 2007, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, A.P., UPI, etc.
- The New York Times (the newspaper of record) didn’t mention it and the Los Angeles Times gave it five inches.
- I was privileged to take a couple of courses with Ms. Mitford to learn the art of muckraking and I’m a big fan of Huey Long!