As anyone who has followed the issue knew, groups would soon find the loopholes in McCain-Feingold. But I’m not sure anyone predicted this brilliant twist:

NRA Seeks Status as News Outlet Hoping to spend as much as it wants on next year’s elections, the National Rifle Association is looking to buy a television or radio station and declare that it should be treated as a news organization, exempt from spending limits in the campaign finance law.

“We’re looking at bringing a court case that we’re as legitimate a media outlet as Disney or Viacom or Time Warner,” the NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, said in an interview.

“Why should they have an exclusive right to relay information to the public, and why should not NRA be considered as legitimate a news source as they are? That’s never been explored legally,” he said.

The nation’s gun lobby is talking with potential investors about an NRA broadcast outlet and is considering all possible funding sources, including gun manufacturers, LaPierre said.

If the NRA were to be considered a media organization, it would be free to say what it wanted about candidates at any time and spend corporate money to do so, such as for commercials.

The group, financed in part with corporate money, is now banned under the campaign finance law from running ads, just before elections, that mention federal candidates who are on states’ ballots.

I’d prefer to see this idiotic law struck down as the clear violation of the 1st Amendment it is. But watching ingenuity at work is a joy to behold.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rick DeMent says:

    What if it isn;t a clear violation of the 1st ammendment?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Regulating political speech is precisely the thing the 1st Amendment was designed to prevent. In our time, political speech takes place entirely on television. That takes money, and lots of it.

  3. James, you and I are also legitimate news outlets, and therefore exempt from the M-F Act’s provisions that chafe the NRA.

    I posted way last February that it is impossible to define what is a journalist in any exclusionary way that meets 1st Amendment tests.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Donald, Good point! Unfortunately, my being limited to spending no more than the $1000 limit (or whatever it is now) is an unnecessary piece of legislation!

  5. Scott Harris says:

    This is great! I cannot imagine a better result than convincing organizations to obtain “media” properties. Everyone knows that the current media is overwhelmingly leftist in nature. Even while ostensibly trying to be unbiased, the natural inclinations of the current main-line press are bound to distort their definitions of un-biased.

    The First Amendment was not adopted to protect the interest of mega-media corporations. It was adopted to protect the rights of individual Americans to voice their opinions. Destroying the illegal bias in favor of “official” media outlets is long overdue.