K-Lo at NRO points out the latest defense of the "fellow traveler" discount that the NY Times gave MoveOn is that it was a Standby rate. Hmmmm, once again I worked for Capital Newspapers and sold political and every other type of advertising for them. I am fully conversant in the way newspapers sell ads.
A standby price for this full page ad in the front section would mean that they not only couldn't sell the space at full price, but none of the hundreds of commissioned sales folks could sell it at all. Standby pricing is for spots that can't be filled, mostly in the back of Home and Garden or the Classifieds, rarely in the front section of the NY Times.
Now understand that all the sales reps know what ads are going where ,so they know what space is available. They would all have known that MoveOn had the space reserved, but the game is that if any of them have a client that will pay more than Standby rates, then they get the slot. That is why it's called Standby. So to believe the Times, not one of the hundreds of top shelf advertisers they deal with daily would have taken the $116k discount that MoveOn got? Ya' know having seen the fight for commissions and sales goals first hand I am calling BS.
This was a complete bone to MoveOn, and it was not business as usual. This would have required the approval of the head of advertising and would have been known to the publisher because it cost them money to do it. I can't say if it was illegal because the legal vermin have made right and wrong incomprehensible to non-acolytes, but it's certainly wrong as rain.