January 28, 2005

So how many more journalists/columnists ...

... are being paid to tout Dubya's programs?

We wondered about that the other week when it came out that pundit Armstrong Williams got a quarter of a million bucks from the Education Department to promote 'No Child Left Behind.' Then, this past Wednesday, we heard that columnist Maggie Gallagher was paid US $21,500 by the Department of Health and Human Services to defend Dubya's 'healthy marriage' initiative.

But that's not all, folks. Today, Salon reports that yet another right-wing columnist is taking Dubya's shilling:

Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed. [...]

[Assistant HHS secretary Dr. Wade] Horn says McManus, who could not be reached for comment, was paid approximately $10,000 for his work as a subcontractor to the Lewin Group, a health care consultancy hired by HHS to implement the Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, which encourages communities to combat divorce through education and counseling. McManus provided training during two-day conferences in Chattanooga, Tenn., and also made presentations at HHS-sponsored conferences. His syndicated column has appeared in such papers as the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News and the Charlotte Observer.

Horn, who has known McManus for years, says he first learned about the payment on Thursday. In the wake of the Gallagher story, he asked his staff to review all outside contracts and determine if there were any other columnists being paid by HHS. They informed him about McManus. Horn says the review for similar contracts continues.

So that's three pundits, paid for out of the budgets of two federal departments, with the likelihood that HHS is going to find some more of these deals on its books.

As we've asked before: Who else is on the take?

[Paid sub or ad view req'd for Salon.]

Posted by Magpie at January 28, 2005 09:31 AM | Corruption & Graft | Technorati links |

One wonders whether these contracts were, like many (most?) federal contracts, put out for competitive bidding. If so, there should exist some sort of public record of the process, including perhaps the list of bidders.

I know, I know ... even if federal contracting is supposed to be done in the light of day, there's no way these guys would follow those rules. They're above all that.

Posted by: N in Seattle at January 28, 2005 10:59 AM

Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever get to the bottom of this. I'm sure there are many others than the three we are hearing about. This all leads me to wonder how much they are paying Novak?

Posted by: dsmoore at January 28, 2005 09:23 PM

I've been wondering if we all picked one journalist and flooded him/her with letters, over and over, if we could convince one of them to start doing some real investigations of not just this, but so much of the other crap that's been going on since the neocons took over. There has got to be a journalist that the average person would take seriously, and that is a REAL jounalist. This idea has been rolling around in my head for some time. Any ideas out there?

Posted by: Babba at January 29, 2005 10:00 AM

I suspect any journalists that sticks their heads up out of the foxhole expect to be "Rathered", post haste. Journalists that people might listen to are instantly neutralized by the right. Sad, but true. Sadder still for democracy.


Posted by: bruce in oz at January 29, 2005 03:19 PM

I'm a newcomer to blogging. I'm curious about the term "neocons". Who are the people that this term refers to?

Posted by: Olduffer at February 1, 2005 02:32 PM

A "neocon" is a new member of the prison population. It refers to a person in a Federal penitentiary who hasn't served time long enough to be familiar with the customs and culture of prison life. "neocon" means "new convict".

Often it refers to new inductees into the penal system who are serving time for racketeering, tax evasion, fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, or obstruction of justice, but occasionally for violent crimes as well. They are usually white males.

Neocons are particularly vulnerable members of prison society, they've not yet been made anyone's "bitch", don't yet have a Prison "Daddy", don't understand the prison's unofficial monetary system, and don't yet have the protection of their stronger or more experienced peers.

Posted by: Michael at February 3, 2005 11:43 PM