When the Obama administration was arguing the case, some of the justices asked the deputy solicitor general, Malcolm Stewart, if there would be any constitutional reason why books couldn’t be included in the ban. Stewart said sure, “if the book contained the functional equivalent of express advocacy” for a candidate and was supported, even slightly, with corporate money. Such advocacy, Stewart conceded, could amount to negatively mentioning a politician just once in a 500-page book put out by a mainstream publisher.
While both the Times and the Obama administration believed in sweeping government censorship during elections — or at least when most voters pay attention (i.e., right before Election Day) — they thought one group should be exempt from these prohibitions: newspapers and other media outlets. Never mind that pretty much every significant newspaper, television network, and magazine, including the Times itself, is owned by a corporation. They simply wanted other corporations to be forced to shut up.
A super PAC that wants to put out a pamphlet or video or even a paid ad in the Times should be barred from doing so if it might influence voters. But The New York Times Company can write whatever it damn well pleases.