Free Speech? Liberals Say: You Can’t Even Buy It!

As you likely remember if you are a regular reader, I am now running a think tank/conservative activist organization, Center of the American Experiment. This year, we have enough room in our growing budget to promote our web site and do some institutional advertising. So if you live in Minnesota, you are likely to see an ad for our web site if you visit the Drudge Report, InstaPundit or Power Line.

We have also bought advertising on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s site. In effect, we sponsor the Strib’s Opinion section with a big, beautiful banner ad. It isn’t there all the time; there are some other banner advertisers. But it seems that most of the time, you see something like this:

It’s actually better than that, because when you see it live, the ad rotates through five or six beautiful Minnesota landscapes that are taken from the Center’s web site. The Strib’s artistic staff did a terrific job on the ad, and we have an excellent relationship with the paper’s digital ad sales team, as well as many other Star Tribune employees, notwithstanding the fact that we are often at odds with the paper’s editorial stances and news reporting.

It appears that the Star Tribune’s willingness to take our advertising dollars infuriated some of its liberal readers, who perhaps view the paper’s Opinion section as their private preserve. Thus, this morning the Strib’s Scott Gillespie, who I believe chairs the paper’s editorial board and is responsible for the Opinion section, sent this message to all those who subscribe to the Opinion section via email:

Gillespie’s response was entirely appropriate, and I am sure our good relationship with the Star Tribune will continue, as will our policy disagreements. But what to make of the liberals who protested against the paper’s accepting our money and publishing an entirely inoffensive ad that publicizes our existence and suggests a visit to our web site? The answer, I think, is that many liberals are arrogant and entitled. These people seriously believe they have the right, not to argue with us, but to drive us out of the public square–in effect, out of existence. To demand that we not be heard, even when we are willing to pay.

In 2016, American Experiment authors published an extraordinary number of op-eds in the Star Tribune, by far the most important media outlet in Minnesota. The paper accepted our submissions for publication because they were good. But liberals complained; in fact, the Strib published multiple letters from liberals who criticized the paper for giving us a platform. In 2017, the Star Tribune published considerably fewer of our op-eds, even though we had two of the ten most read columns in the Opinion section all year (one by me and one by Senior Fellow Katherine Kersten).

The Center didn’t suffer: last year we placed op-eds in nearly 100 Minnesota newspapers. But what we see here is one small illustration of an important phenomenon. Liberals don’t usually try to argue with conservatives, because they generally lose. They seem to have figured that out. So instead, they try to shut us up. To make what we say inadmissible. To drive us underground, or better yet, out of existence. The arrogance of the Left knows no bounds. But if you have been following this site for a while, you know that shutting me up–and, I can assure you, shutting my organization up–is a losing battle.

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