Actually that wasn't the message at all. They're perfectly ok now; at least I saw no sign that they'd lost traffic or rankings (although that could happen eventually) All they need to do is put a label on a link and go their merry way. AdSense isn't even relevant here (for all we know they ARE running AdSense - most newspapers run a mix)
Google made up Pagerank, so they're free to set the standards. If Pagerank is important to you, then live by the standards or let go on Pagerank. If I invent NetmegRank (and I have, I just don't issue a badge or number, ork ork) then I get to set the standards, and if people are silly enough to put a value on that, then they gotta live up to my standards.
There's no good or evil here - it is what it is.