Courtesy of Atrios, this
from USA Today
Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.
The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.
Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."
I can't say I'm too exercised <$Ad$> one way or another about Armstrong Williams' professional ethics, or lack thereof. But taxpayer money for this? This sounds like it's clearly political
work. Perhaps that fat Bush-Cheney campaign fund should reimburse the taxpayers. If the White House wants to fully fund Armstrong Williams instead of the NCLB bill, let them do it on their own dime. PS
. This also gets us back to the issue of OpEd payola, which we discussed
back in March 2002 and at other times. This was a topic I was collecting information on for years, but so far at least never got around to writing. As I said in that earlier post, many more OpEds than you'd imagine are bought and paid for. At a few of the premium dailies it's hard to pull off. But beyond those it's pretty common, though often without the editors even being aware of it. There are even a few prominent papers known by those in the business to be an easy (and willing) mark.