In a virtually unprecedented move for a (supposedly cash-strapped) newspaper, the Seattle Times Corpis spending $80,000 of the paper's own money to promote Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna in its pages. The last time the paper gave away free space in its pages was in 1998, when the company ran several full-page freebie ads opposing I-200, the law that banned affirmative action for women and minorities in state hiring, education, and contracting.

According to a Times story on the $80,000 expenditure, the editorial side of the paper had no say in the decision, which "was made by the corporate side" of the paper to "demonstrate the effectiveness of political advertising." The contribution makes the Times the third-largest contributor to McKenna's campaign. (The paper is also running a discounted ad for R-74, the gay-marriage initiative).

How fortunate, then, that the corporate side just happened to go along with the editorial side's point of view.

Hmm. If spending $80,000 on its favored gubernatorial candidate proves that political ads are effective, does the corrolary hold true? If McKenna's Democratic opponent Jay Inslee wins, does that demonstrate that advertising in the Times is a waste of money?

The Times spend also raises another question about the role of newspapers in politics. What if "the corporate side" had disagreed with the paper's editors? Would they take out ads in their own paper for Jay Inslee, or against gay marriage, pitting the advertising side of the paper directly against its own editorial board? 

How fortunate, then, that the corporate side just happened to go along with the editorial side's point of view.