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Billionaire Tries to Buy Legislation, and the New York Times Loves It

New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro promoted billionaire New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's bankrolling of his latest liberal crusade on Sunday's front page: "TV Blitz on Guns Puts Swing Senators on the Spot." 

Barbaro, who covered the Romney campaign in hostile fashion and hated Wal-Mart's occasional donations to conservative groups (dwarfed by the corporation's liberal giving), didn't ask whether big-money Bloomberg was playing an unfairly influential role by trying to buy legislation he favors through his group Mayors for Illegal Guns.

The commercial is an unambiguous appeal to gun owners: a middle-aged hunter, shotgun in hand, vows that he will fight to protect the Second Amendment. But in a sensible, father-of-the-house tone, he also urges voters to support comprehensive background checks, “so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can’t buy guns.”

The man behind the advertisement is not known for his kinship with the gun crowd: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the nation’s fiercest advocate of restrictions on firearms since the December rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Determined to persuade Congress to act in response to that shooting, Mr. Bloomberg on Monday will begin bankrolling a $12 million national advertising campaign that focuses on senators who he believes might be persuaded to support a pending package of federal regulations to curb gun violence. The ads, in 13 states, will blanket those senators’ districts during an Easter Congressional recess that is to be followed by debate over the legislation.

In a telling sign of how much the white-hot demands for gun control have been tempered by political reality, Mr. Bloomberg’s commercials make no mention of an assault weapons ban once sought by the White House and its allies, instead focusing on the more achievable goal of universal background checks.

Far from being bothered by Bloomberg's vast financial influence on legislation, Barbaro praised it:

Given the mayor’s role in contributing to the ouster of an N.R.A.-backed candidate in an Illinois Congressional race a few weeks ago, his push carries an unmistakable threat to those who vote against the bills.

Contrast the Times' supportive approach toward Bloomberg's anti-gun crusade with the whining emanating from the Times over the money that came in to support reforming Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin during the 2012 recall election foisted upon him by the left wing. Reporter Michael Shear shook his head over "The corporate interests and billionaires who are pouring cash into Mr. Romney’s 'super PACs' gave millions to Mr. Walker."

Yet there's no outcry from the Times when Bloomberg pushes a liberal issue.

-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site.