Hit & Run

Another Loophole Exposed

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In Salon (ad serve req.), John Gorenfeld discusses efforts to keep the Michael Moore joint Fahrenheit 9/11 out of theaters. In a related article from Voice of America, Citizens United honcho David Bossie calls the picture "Nothing more than a two-hour political commercial.

"It is nothing more than an attack ad on President Bush," says Mr. Bossie. "It is nothing more or less and so I think that people who go to see it will have already made up their minds and they are just making a donation to Michael Moore and to the John Kerry [presidential] campaign."

Since he brings it up, I wonder if somebody better versed than me in the intricacies of campaign finance reform can answer a question: Why doesn't some smart lawyer try to define Fahrenheit 9/11 as a "sham issue ad" subject to suppression under the BCRA?

Two weaknesses with that strategy immediately occur, but neither seems fatal: The 60-day limit doesn't kick in until early September, but given the limited and gradual release documentaries get, it's likely that quashing the movie a few months from now could still have an effect.

More importantly, it's not strictly a "broadcast" ad. But since every movie now gets videotaped in the moviehouse and pirated into a variety of distribution channels, you could argue that every filmmaker who allows his or her picture to be released theatrically is effectively partnering in a broadcast enterprise. Even if that unlikely challenge didn't work, you could still challenge the TV and radio ads for the movie itself. How is informing people about a new documentary categorically different from informing them about President Bush's decision on the Kyoto Protocol?