Did NYT Violate Campaign Finance Laws with MoveOn Ad?

Bob Bauer has some interesting thoughts on the legal aspects of the NYT's acknowledgment that MoveOn.Org was not charged the proper rate for its "General Betray-Us" ad at the More Soft Money Hard Law blog.

The campaign finance laws that the Times has so righteously championed have, by its own admission, trapped the paper in a violation. A salesperson got the rate wrong, and though the advertisement is not aimed at an election, does not support a candidate, and does not promote a political party—though its purpose is to weigh in on a debate over national security policy—the discounted price paid by MoveOn is arguably an illegal contribution in kind from the Times to a federally regulated "political committee." Silly as this may seem, the Times is the last publication in the land to grouse about the madness and injustice of it all.