In 2008, a conservative nonprofit organization, Citizens United, tried releasing its anti-Hillary Clinton documentary "Hillary: The Movie." It was set to air as video on demand close to a key Democratic presidential primary - except that was banned under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, usually called McCain-Feingold, as "electioneering communication."
In a 5-4 decision in 2010, the Supreme Court would hold that no law could constitutionally prevent Citizens United from airing its documentary or advertising it. The First Amendment's protections of free speech were a higher value, even if that speech came from a nonprofit or (gasp!) a corporation.
Never has a ruling become a bigger boogeyman for the American left, which insisted that opening the floodgates to such corrosive spending would forever corrupt the democratic process - conveniently disregarding the fact that the press has always had a constitutionally protected blank check to engage in "electioneering communications," and further failing to understand that political speech has always rightly been considered the most vital to protect.
Cut to October 2020. Documentarian Alex Gibney and two co-directors have just released a documentary about Donald Trump and the coronavirus. "Totally Under Control" is unapologetically anti-Trump, and that's fine with us, because he has totally botched the response and deserves to be excoriated.
What isn't fine with us is that many liberals - the very same liberals who decried the Citizens United film and the ruling in its favor - will salute the directors and the production company, curl up on the couch and stream the movie on Amazon Prime, Apple and Hulu.
Political speech is precious. It ought to be protected, whether it's in an election season or not, whether it comes from a nonprofit or a corporation or individual, and whether it attacks a Democratic candidate or a Republican incumbent.
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