January 07, 2005

An isolated case, or just the tip of the iceberg?

You've undoubtedly heard already about how pundit Armstrong Williams was paid US $250,000 to promote Dubya's 'No Child Left Behind' education 'reforms'. Using the Freedom of Information Act, USA Today found that the Education Department used PR firm Ketchum, Inc. to make an arrangement with Williams under which he'd talk up No Child Left Behind regularly on his television program and encourage black journalists to support the president's education reforms. (Ketchum, incidentally, is the same PR firm that was responsible for 'video news releases' that promoted Dubya's Medicare reforms.)

This story raises obvious questions that go beyond whether the arrangement with Williams was legal or ethical — and we're sure we don't have to tell you where this magpie comes down on those points. What really disturbs us about the arrangement is the likelihood that it's not the first time Dubya's administration has paid off a journalist or pundit. Admit it: Williams is not the most high-profile pundit in the US, and Dubya's No Child Left Behind reforms aren't the biggest political fish that Dubya's administration has been frying.

If the graft reaches down far enough that a minor pundit like Williams is being paid off, who else is being paid to, say, support Dubya's position on looting Social Security? Or which journalist is getting some bucks to write positive stories about the occupation of Iraq?

Inquiring magpies want to know.

Posted by Magpie at January 7, 2005 04:34 PM | Corruption & Graft | Technorati links |

Yeah, real good question. At first I thought maybe they just started with a lesser-known wing-nut pundit. But, no, Armstrong was the only one to get caught. So far.

Posted by: Babba at January 7, 2005 05:00 PM

As a former longtime CPA auditor, I assure you that this is just the tiniest tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Posted by: Deborah White at January 8, 2005 12:26 AM

What I'm most concerned about Bush's so-called 'No Child Left Behind Act' is its focus on tests and scores. I think math is overrated. Reading, writing, art, music, social studies, history, physical education and general science classes are more important, more practical studies for most people. Bush's focus on test scores detracts from a more complete education. I fear that what the neo-cons are doing is limiting education to subservience to authority.

Posted by: Artie at January 8, 2005 12:53 PM