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The Nation's David Corn got the backstage scoop:
"This happens all the time," he told me. "There are others." Really? I said. Other conservative commentators accept money from the Bush administration? I asked Williams for names. "I'm not going to defend myself that way," he said. The issue right now, he explained, was his own mistake. Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.
Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House's payola rolls.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:40 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I propose (4.00)
    a full court press from the lefty blogosphere for full disclosure. Can we get this information through FOIA?

    We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. - Donald Rumsfeld

    by The past is over on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:30:01 AM PST

  •  re (4.00)
    Sean F@cking Hannity.

    If he took dollar one then his career needs TO BE ENDED.

    "Steve Holt!"- Steve Holt

    by cookiesandmilk on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:30:01 AM PST

  •  Follow the money (4.00)
    I think a good investigation by a motivated DA with a grand jury could help clean things up a little.  Plus - as an added bonus -  it would provide us with the full entertainment value we expect our government to provide.

    Apparently I have made the unbelievably naive error of overstimating the intelligence of the American people.

    by Citizen Clark on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:31:07 AM PST

    •  Spitzer? (none)
      although I have no idea if that is something that is within his jurisdiction.

      He might not want to get involved with this though.

      wanna buy some wood?

      by jdeliaNYC on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:40:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Follow paper trail (none)
      to the money.  Isn't this public information, anyway?  I think it is.  What the government spends is subject to media/citizen review.  Probably by now reporters are all over this trying to get info.
    •  following the money (none)
      could be difficult. I doubt that in most instances all concerned were as sloppy as the Capo Williams and his paymasters. Ketchum handled this poorly. They could have done much, much more to hide this transaction from prying eyes; IMO, they owe the white house a refund.

      More things are traded than just dollars; look at what Prince Rupert M/Fox and ClearChannel have received in exchange for their propaganda largesse: the complete unravelling of decades-old regulations on media ownership, magical immunity from civil suit swatdowns...it's been nothing short o' miraculous!

      The numbers and connections I'd like to see: How many family members of white house staff/congressional repigs own how much stock in which media companies/PR firms and/or sit on the boards of same and/or receive speakers' honoraria and/or jobs with said firms and/or PR firms normally engaged with and/or by...you see how it gets complex and impenetrable very quickly.

      But in absence of hard evidence (which - hey, face it; who cares - the truth, as the X Files used to say, is already "out there"), we should simply, continually refer to Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter, etc. as "Paid White House Spokesman/Commentator Hannity..." etc. until proven otherwise.

      www.black-thursday.com - it's not just an inauguration; it's an atrocity.

      by RabidNation on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:34:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It would be very hard (none)
      For a country DA or a state AG to find jurisdiction over something like this. Any laws broken were almost certainly federal, making it an issue for the Justice Department and the US Attorneys.

      Given the conflict on interest that could arise having the DoJ running this investigation, it would almost assuredly necessitate the appointment of a special prosecutor.

      Google-Bomb this treasonous bastard person
      Copy link and text to help.

      by Goldfish on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 04:42:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Mainstream" columnists, too. (none)
    This would explain many puzzling columns from Friedman, Kristoff, Broder, Zakaria, Easterbrook, et al.
    •  Don't forget that asswipe David Brooks! n/t (4.00)
    •  umm, look: (none)
      How do you think they got their jobs? Virtually all of 'em?

      How does a mediocrity like a Novak or a Will or any of the milquetoast meme-mouthers actually manage to stampede oe'r the heads of thousands of journalists after every prime-time pundit post...? They don't do it. Their friends do it for them.

      Ketchum AE/White House employee X: "Hello, Editor X? How you doing today? Great day for golf, isn't it? Say, there's this guy I'd like you to meet who I think could be a real asset to your paper/station..."

      Bought and paid for pet poodle pundits are what one should rightly expect from a bought and paid for pet poodle media system. Who the fuck can be surprised?

      www.black-thursday.com - it's not just an inauguration; it's an atrocity.

      by RabidNation on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:41:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, that's NOT how ... (none)
        ...most pundits get syndicated, including Will and Novak.  

        We don't inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - David Brower

        by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:21:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not talking about syndication. (none)
          I don't think Scott McLellan calls up editors shilling for AP.

          talking about how ppl get into a position to get syndicated, get that WaPo or NYT or whatever job...I've had the displeasure of watching the ascendence of certain ppl hailing from right here who've made these absolutely astonishing career leaps despite basic non-performance, and who ODDLY ENOUGH just happen to have certain friends, and who just happen to toe a certain party line and whose columns automatically appear timed perfectly to coincide with the emerging needs of certain special interests....it's really quite remarkable. Hey, maybe they're all former members of Psychic Friends Network. Or maybe they're being told in advance what to say. You tell me.

          www.black-thursday.com - it's not just an inauguration; it's an atrocity.

          by RabidNation on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 03:40:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  They're not getting paid (none)
      Journalists from time to time will disagree with you without them being corrupt. That's what nader does.
      •  not all journalists (none)
        of course not.

        maybe I'm not being clear; we're talking about an elite punditocracy who get 99% of the face time, often in spite of astonishing mediocrity, redundancy, or even basic lack of popularity. (He's got a following NOW. But when he first started on Crossfire, did anybody anywhere like Pat Buchanan...?) Even when caught in lies, even when reduced to the point of babbling gibberish, the same usual suspects are always there, seemingly immune to the "market forces" that ordinarily torpedo normal journalists' careers. the medium, the message, and the messenger are all on the take from the same source here.

        www.black-thursday.com - it's not just an inauguration; it's an atrocity.

        by RabidNation on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 03:45:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We Need to Ask (4.00)
    Every one of the usual suspects need to be asked, point blank, "Are you on the administration payroll?".  This does 2 things - it makes them deny it, and it plants the seed in people's minds that these folks are payed to pass on propaganda.

    Somebody call Hannity today, lie to the screener to get through, and ask him on his show.  If a back-bencher like Armstrong Williams got $240K to talk up NCLB, how much must Hannity get for parroting every single f&#$ing talking point that comes down the pike?

  •  Our taxpayer dollars (none)
    at work. "Administration's payroll" = the people's payroll.

    Kerry/Edwards: For a reality-based America

    by Em on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:33:33 AM PST

  •  FOIA? (none)
    Is there any way that this can be written to try to get the answers?

    On second thought - we'd get the output on 100% redacted pages.

    •  National Security Concerns (none)
      If the admin were to let the cat out of the bag they would only further erode the little trust they have left. And because everything leads to terrorism all the FOIA will produce is black lines.

      Where can I get a "Don't blame me, I voted for Kerry" bumper sticker?

      by bobinson on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:12:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't Think That's the Case (4.00)
        These contracts are done under the rubric of "public relations consulting" -- and therefore should be available through FOIA.  They would meet none of the tests applied to exclude a document from FOIA.  Some of the internal financial information about companies which served as intermediaries might be redacted, but the bottom-line "obligated funds" totals would be left in.

        As you might guess, I deal with government contracts in my line of work, so I know a good deal about the process.  (Don't want to get more specific than that for obvious reasons.)

        I don't have time right now, but I'm going to post a diary this evening suggesting strategies for going about obtaining the documents.

        We need to grab onto this like pit bulls...

        I'm GregP and I approve this message.

        by GregP on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:24:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need to jump on this with both feet. (none)
          It's Monday and I can't see a substantial chunk of time for me to deal with this until maybe Thursday evening, but I'm going to make that time, as soon as I can.

          The thing is: it's a federal crime to pay for propaganda within the US. I don't know which one, but it's out there somewhere. That's what I do: legal research. Among other things.

          We could gather the evidence and present it to the Democratic leadership. And then I'd like to see it handed over to a special prosecutor.

          •  semantics (none)
            I believe you that it is probably a federal crime to pay for propaganda within the US.

            But BushCo has probably just redefined the word "propaganda", the same way they redefined "torture", "pollution", "ethics", "mission accomplished" and "fair election".

            Feel free to do your legal research, and send it to anyone you like.  But Bobby Kennedy Jr., whose career is in environmental law, recently said on TV that every time he was able to prove the Bush Administration was in violation of some pollution statute they simply rewrote the rules either by executive order or by steamrolling something through Congress on party line votes.

            Come to think of it, since they control the legislature and the judiciary, they are on the verge of redefining the word "illegal."

            Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 01:25:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  But PR firms (none)
          aren't subject to FOIA requests. So yer agency paid a PR firm something...how you ever gonna find out which spokes-whore they wrote the checks to?

          www.black-thursday.com - it's not just an inauguration; it's an atrocity.

          by RabidNation on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:43:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Prime Contactor (4.00)
            In this case, the PR firm was the prime contractor -- the entity which actually has a contract with the government.  Most of that file is going to be releasable under FOIA.  There should be a "Statement of Work" which will outline their role.  What we need to request is the full contents of the contract administration file, which would contain correspondence related to subcontracts.  Most subcontracts have to be approved by the government before being placed by the prime contractor.

            Again, I will post a diary this evening with my outline of how the blogosphere can mount a distributed opposition research campaign to pry loose these documents, analyze them, and publish them on the web.

            I'm GregP and I approve this message.

            by GregP on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:13:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  No, but (none)
            PR firms sure as hell are open to subpoenas from a suit brought by concerned citizens, or a criminal prosecution brought by an independent prosecutor.

            Also, the argument could be made that if they were working for government, any documents relating to that work for the government would be subject to FOIA. I'm not sure what precedent there is for that, but its worth looking at.

            Google-Bomb this treasonous bastard person
            Copy link and text to help.

            by Goldfish on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 04:53:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  foia (none)
      apparently, that's how USAToday got the original info.  So, it's defintely possible.
  •  Everyone does it! (none)
    I think it's safe to assume that most prominent conservative talking heads (Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter) have taken their share.

    But what about actual journalists?  For example:

    1.  Wolf Blizer

    2.  Judy Woodruff

    3.  Andrea Mitchell

    4.  Bill Hemmer

    5.  Anyone on FOX News.

    By the way, I haven't paid much attention to Armstrong (why start now?) but has he said why he felt it was OK to accept take the money?
    •  He claimed that (none)
      as a "pundit and commentator" he's not "expected to be objective."  Furthermore he asserts that the bribes, um, I mean payments, were for advertisements for his syndicated television and radio shows.

      More at his online Q&A session.

      •  Falls into a different area (none)
        when you're taking pay and espousing ideas for it.  That could be considered as "advertising" and would fall under a whole new criteria.  I believe you have to disclose whether something is a paid advertisement.
        •  Yebbut... (none)
          ...he was representing these columns as his honest and unsolicited opinion.  He never said anything like "President Bush would like me to tell you about ..." that I've heard.  He made these statements for publication as a part of his regular job as a columnist, not explicitly as a Bush shill.

          What did we do to deserve George W. Bush?

          by republicans are idiots on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:14:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  But He Wasn't A Commentator (4.00)
        He was a paid government secret agent.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:36:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  such payments are illegal (none)
        It's tax money.  Good grief.
      •  Advertising's one thing... (none)
        ...but the contract as posted by USA Today specifically says "Ketchum shall arrange for Mr. Williams to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts."

        That's not advertising in any remotely legitimate sense.

        "The past is never dead. It's not even past." -- William Faulkner

        by GreenCA on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 05:42:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Graham-Williams Group (none)
      is Armstrong Williams group where he's in partnership with Oprah's boyfriend, Stedman Graham.  I remember reading that in a publication someplace...if someone can find and post the link, I'd greatly appreciate it.

      Probably some blacklash for Oprah since her boyfriend Stedman's involved...

      Get rid of anything useless...like the Democratic Leadership Council. Visit the weblog: www.getridofthedlc.blogspot.com

      by The Truth on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 01:29:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Armstrong Williams and Other Bush Scandals (none)
    Speaking of the Armstrong Williams affair, Perrspectives is commemorating the Bush second inaugural by having a contest for readers to come up with catchy, original names for all of the Bush scandals.

    Check out the "Name That Bush Scandal" Contest!

  •  Wow! That's one hell of an assumption; (none)
    I'll wait till there's a scintilla of evidence.

    It'd be great fun if any Fox folks were on the payola rolls, but I doubt Roger Ailes is that stupid -- here's hoping I'm wrong :)

  •  Right wing pundits (none)
    are businessmen - not journalists. Whatever opinion will make them the most money is the opinion they adopt.

    We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. - Donald Rumsfeld

    by The past is over on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:35:35 AM PST

    •  That is precisely Armstrong's excuse (none)
      As he said to Campbell Brown on the Saturday edition of Today, she doesn't have to worry about generating the ad revenue for Today...the suits at NBC/Universal/GE do that.

      He, on the other hand, (says he in his self-serving way), is the CEO of a company.  He has to bring in revenue, and so all this fuss is just because he sold advertising time to the DoE.

      I guess we conclude from that it's not enough to make a living hosting a radio show, writing a column, etc.  A good Conservative, these days, has to sell advertising to survive.

      Sheesh.

      He has oil. He tried to kill my daddy.

      by kensa on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:42:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What does that mean (none)
        "he sold advertising". Before he gave those opinions did he alert his audience to the fact that he was being paid for his opinion on NCLB? If he didn't then he's nothing more than an advertorial con artist who doesn't deserve to be anywhere near the public trust.

        We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. - Donald Rumsfeld

        by The past is over on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:45:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Isn't there (none)
      a word for people who sell themselves for money?
      •  Don't many people sell themselves (none)
        for money, depending on the kinds of jobs they have?

        If you sign a contract that surrenders certain of your rights or prerogatives (e.g. swearing to secrecy, obligation to show up at x y or z event x number of times over x years, etc.) then in effect you have sold yourself for money-- your desire to earn money from that job, in exchange for "selling" or giving up a part of yourself you otherwise would be able to keep if you hadn't signed on the dotted line.

        I agree that Williams and Brooks and pundits like that are whores many times over.  But in this case it's not because they take money for being pundits, but rather because they (like Williams) most likely do something illegal in accepting that money, and thus are rendered particularly down and dirty, immoral, and unethical.

        •  Damn threading (none)
          I was coming off the comment about GOP pundits being businessmen primarily, and spewing their shit because it makes them more money than they would if they were on our side.  It's about ambition, not belief.  That's what bothers me.  We have people   who claim to be democrats who do the same thing.  I'm talking from working on a campaign and watching people who would say anything if it benefited them.  These people shouldn't be trusted.
      •  it's a word the former head of CNN used (none)
        to describe williams on NPR: "whore."

        it was a beautiful moment in journalism. one unlikely to be repeated.

        www.black-thursday.com - it's not just an inauguration; it's an atrocity.

        by RabidNation on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:49:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Couldn't believe it when I heard it (none)
          I heard somebody on NPR calling Williams a whore repeatedly, maybe 3-4 times, and I nearly fell over! I didn't know who it was though. Thanks for enlightening me.

          A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

          by tmo on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 04:54:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it's called "Prostitution" (none)
        Or, the hip-hop vernacular is 'ho or "trick"

        He got paid for the journalistic version of providing sexual favors for the GOP.  It's the only way any of them get sex, period...they have to pay for it.  Have you actually looked at how evil and foulness have screwed up their actual physical features.  Take Ann Coulter...that's enough for bulemics to renounce their disease and actually start eating again (and I mean no disrespect to those actually battling eating disorders)

        Get rid of anything useless...like the Democratic Leadership Council. Visit the weblog: www.getridofthedlc.blogspot.com

        by The Truth on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 01:37:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't just look nationally (none)
    I really wonder if some of the more local broadcasters, especially in swing states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, etc., may not have been on the payroll.

    Some of them were doing a great job of being parrots.

    Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

    by JAPA21 on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:36:00 AM PST

  •  Lovely (none)
    So our good man Mr. Williams is not willing to take the fall for this?  Wonderful.  I hope that the WH continues to scapegoat him, and that he starts to name names in retribution.
  •  Wouldn't this info be available via the FOIA? (none)
    If these guys are getting checks from the U.S. Government, I'd expect it to be public information.

    In any case, Democrats in the House or Senate should be able to get their hands on it, and turn it over to the press.

  •  Can't David Corn take a hint? (4.00)
    Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.

    C'mon, David, don't make him come out and say it.  Offer him something to turn in the other leeches.  I'm sure his turncoat fee is less than $240,000.

    Another thing that surprises me is the pointlessness of this kind of direct payment.  I thought that the whole purpose of AEI, Heritage, Hudson, Manhattan, etc. was to launder these kind of payments through the "private" sector.  I guess power makes 'em sloppy.

    "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

    by Pesto on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:37:45 AM PST

  •  We need to be like a dog with a bone (4.00)
    Someone definetely needs to ask the likes of Hannity and the rest if they are taking money, or have EVER taken money from the White House. Get on their goddamn shows and ask them.
    •  Michael Moore (none)
      I'd love to see Moore take this on. Partly because he is that dog with a bone. And partly because it would be nice revenge for all the Moore bashing. Moore may be explicit about his politics. But he came by those opinions on his own, not by getting paid under the table to espouse them.
  •  That explains a lot (4.00)
    That is about the only thing that would explain some of the ridiculous things conservatives say.

    Beyond direct payouts, there is another big financial incentive. Conservative commentators get better jobs than liberals. People like Ann Coulter and John Stossel would never get a job if they were liberal.

  •  But its not just money (none)
    I remember that Limbaugh was awarded some special honorary membership to the republican party after his huge success talking conservative points. So just cause there's no paper trail to a lot of these guys doesn't mean they aren't speaking under the influence.

    Truth doesn't take sides

    by KingJames on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:39:24 AM PST

  •  Hannity and Our Tax Dollars (none)
    Armstrong Williams [unspoken to David Corn]: "You got a problem with my meager quarter mill? You should see what Hannity is getting, like add a couple of zeroes..."

    We the undersigned urge you to support Federal funding for research using human pluripotent stem cells. -80 Nobel Laureates to Pres. Bush

    by easong on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:39:39 AM PST

  •  Everybody at Sinclair? n/t (none)
  •  For junkies, a scandal of epic proportions. (none)
    For the average American...not so much.

    I've spoken to a few people about this, and the reaction I've been getting is sort of "meh."

    People are so desensitized to corruption, that this just sort of seems like business as usual.  

    And not only that, since this involves the way members of the press do business (I can't imagine this is not widespread), I think we can rest assured that Mr. Williams will get the brunt of this, then the press will bury this.

    •  I don't think so (none)
      I think those that DON'T get bribes will be hot to expose those that DO.

      I know if I worked for a station or paper that didn't have privileged status, and I had a way to bring down somebody who got it ILLEGALLY, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

      Especially if doing so would likely win me a Pulitzer, and get me international fame.

      •  The Issue is Public Funds (3.50)
        If it were Scaife or some other wealthy donor type paying for it, it wouldn't be surprising -- but the fact that federal agencies were using appropriated funds for this makes it a whole different ballgame -- and subject to public disclosure.

        I'm GregP and I approve this message.

        by GregP on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:33:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Don't be so sure. (none)
        I agree that this is a big, big story, what with the government actually paying people out of the public treasury to shill for partisan purposes.  I don't agree that there will be a Watergate-style story about it.  Here's why.

        If this sort of thing is as endemic as Williams hints it is, and if some of these bribes are going to "straight" journalists, then I have a hard time imagining that it will get serious coverage, since it goes to the very heart of the way things are done.  Now, if this were an isolated event involving one organization or person, then I agree, the press would be all over this like stink on s--t.  But, that's not the case.  The press is not about to expose its own systemic shortcomings.  For one thing, it makes them look like shills for the establishment (even if they already are).  And second, it would be bad for business.  More and more people are getting at least some of their news from so-called "new media."  Any hint that the press is less than reliable could cause even more people to turn away from the old guard.

    •  it's illegal (none)
      Watergate was just a second rate burglary, too.  Rememeber, it's not the sex, it's the lying.  Make them put somebody in jail.  Call for a special prosecutor -- and quick, before Gonzalez gets confirmed as AG and buries this 10 miles deep.
  •  There have to be MANY others (4.00)
    Does FOX get a bulk rate?
  •  I want names. (4.00)
    If the feds are gonna underfund Title I, sanction my, my teachers, my school, and my district, withhold funds from our students, and then spend my tax dollars to promote the travesty that is NCLB, I want heads to roll.

    Yeah, I'm pissed.

    There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. --Benjamin Disraeli, cited by Mark Twain

    by sheba on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:44:14 AM PST

    •  Black Alliance for Educational Options (4.00)
      The Black Alliance for Educational Options received a $600,000 grant in 2002 to publicize No Child Left Behind in the African American community.  Two members of that organization's Board of Directors are Armstrong Williams and Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State.  
  •  My Guess is... (none)
    Cal Thomas.

    The only second term dubya deserves is 20 to life!

    by Street Kid on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:44:16 AM PST

  •  Let's clean-up the media (none)
    Don't "journalists" belong to an association or union?  Let's put before the governing bodies of the organizations for journalists a call for "optional" financial disclosure (i.e. federal tax return).

    I've suspected for years that Richard Mellon Scaife has bankrolled Limbaugh and all of wingnut radio.

    Maybe we should start we the WaPo writers like Kurtz and Broder?

    So many wingnuts, so few bullets.

    by slip kid no more on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:46:54 AM PST

  •  Kate O'Beirne is my nominee (4.00)
    for "most likely to be on the payroll".

    On Capital Gang, she never, ever, EVER strays from the "Democrat Bad, Republican Good" mantra.  Most often, she doesn't even take the time to change the words of the party talking points.  She's nothing but a parrot.

    CNN could save some money...each week, instead of paying her to come in to the studio, just prop up a card in her chair with the week's talking points.

    He has oil. He tried to kill my daddy.

    by kensa on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:50:48 AM PST

    •  Similarly, everybody remember... (none)
      ... how Fox "News" on-air personnel suddenly began saying "homicide bomber" instead of "suicide bomber" after a Bush White House press spokesman said the former was more appropriate?)
    •  The worst is Maggie Gallagher (none)
      She's another "pundit" who wouldn't have a job if it weren't for parroting the conservatives' idiocies.

      I don't see her on TV much, thank goodness.

      We can't stop here! This is bat country!

      by hrh on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:16:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  and furthermore... (none)
        she runs a supposed "think tank" called the "Institute for Marriage and Public Policy".  Gee, I wonder where she got the money to set that up.

        We can't stop here! This is bat country!

        by hrh on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:19:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  black calling the pot kettle (none)
    williams looking out for jonah, whodathunkdat?

    Top of the $hilling list, bobo. Someone's got to pay for his excursions into conservoland.

  •  Senator Thune Paid Bloggers (4.00)
    While it is more offensive when tax dollars are used, Senator Thune used campaign funds to pay two bloggers in South Dakota.  The bloggers did not report their receipt of campaign funds while "reporting" on the Daschle/Thune campaign.  
  •  Well, the GOP and GOP campaigns (none)
    have been planting stories and false leads in several hacks' columns for years. Reagan did in in the 1980 campaign.

    They don't necessarily have to be paid to do it, but if they are using taxpayer money to propagandize the American people...well, I want my money back.

  •  My guess... (4.00)
    #1 on my list is Mona Charen.

    You have to think like a Bushie. Why pay off Hannity, Rush, et al? Their audience is comprised of white Republican men--a group that is already in W's pocket. No, you have to go for a group that isn't inclined to support the President. As in the case of Armstrong Williams, the blacks. As in the case of Mona Charen, the women.

    So, the best bet is to ID prominent (a) black, (b) latino, (c) female, (d) jewish, (e) Muslim, (f) etc. commentators who always spout the Bush party line.

    Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it.

    by David J on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:54:36 AM PST

    •  or maybe... (none)
      this might explain all those confounding, ill-timed defections by prominent Dems in op-eds and TV appearances during election season.  One needn't sell out on everything to sell out on something.

      To raise a few names, Donna Brazile was mighty accommodating to Karl Rove in the time around the 2000 election, but given her admitted incompetence arguing the pro-choice position, she might just be stupid.  

      Susan Estrich has been quoted backing GOP positions at least twice.  The Nation reported the head of the AARP was a Republican lobbyist who steered that group to endorse Bush's Medicare program.  

      Al From and the DLC leadership promote Republican causes through their actions, if not their intentions.  We all know about Joe Lieberman's de facto dual loyalties.

      George Stephanopoulos' defection was rapid and financially rewarding.

      Obviously, I can't prove any of this; it's all supposition.  But I wouldn't be surprised to see the FOIA documents find Scaife money seeping into the pockets of a few Washington insiders nominally on our side of the aisle.

      The Bushes' longstanding ties to the intelligence community might explain other questionable votes or decisions from Democratic congressional leaders.  Like how they can always find one or two Dems to peel off and vote for one of Bush's crazy ideas, like the tax cuts, Medicare reform, war in Iraq, etc.  While Dems like Edward Kennedy might have trusted Bush at first to do the right thing, Washington-style, by this point no Dem with a brain will expect Bush to keep his word about anything.

      Carrot and stick; payoffs and blackmail.

    •  Or Linda Chavez....n/t/ (none)

      We don't inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - David Brower

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:11:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  suggested catchphrase: (4.00)
    let's call it the ``pay for praise scandal''

    why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

    by gracchus on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 09:55:52 AM PST

  •  Williams got a quarter million... (4.00)
    I wonder how much body armor that would buy. Add in a few more conservative pundits, and you've got a nice, juicy angle on this story.
  •  How would this play out? (none)

    It comes to light that Molly Ivins has received a minor stipend from the DNC or George Soros or Barbara Streisand, for that matter.

    Rush would say...
    Hannity would say...
    NYTimes would say...

    •  Those are NOT taxpayers' money (none)
      They are private organizations and citizens. They can do what they want with their money, buy as many pundits as they like.

      The government CANNOT do that.

      Doing so with federal funds is a CRIME. It is most definitely an IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE if Bush authorized this.

      •  yes, and that's my point (none)
        The RW would be howling and screaming for blood if a progressive commentator got a dime from a non-governmental source.   The vast conspiracy!  The abatement of morality!
      •  Private or not... (none)
        I can still hear these guys shrill screams about Molly being paid to have an opinion and nobody in their right mind should ever believe anything she says anymore, yada, yada, yada.  I believe the point here is not so much about who paid for the opinion, but the hypocrisy of the right-wing talking heads.  This would have been BIG news, a BIG scandal, etc had it been Molly, regardless of who had out their checkbook.

        Rarely is the question asked... is our children learning?

        by God loves goats on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:17:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (none)
        The FCA clearly states that the payer and the payee have a legal obligation to disclose to the broadcast network that the payee delivering a paid political commerical. Williams was paid by the DOE. Rod Paige is the DOE Sec.

        Rod Paige should be compelled, under penalty of prosecution, to testify under oath as to who paid Wiliams and if (as Williams suggests) this "payola" is SOP in the Bush Administration - if so, which Departments and which WH Iniatives?

        Willaims should be compelled to testify as to "who else" is paid for their punditry.

        Then take the names that Paige and Williams provide and start asking: Who authroized this practice Is payola approved at the cabinet level or higher? Did the President know that these crimes were being committed? Did the President authorize these payments?

        Even though the crime committed "originally" was a misdameanor (payola), the fact that the Presdeint may have 1) known about it and not informed the DOJ or 2) Authorized it himself, rises this scandal easily to the level of "high crimes and misdameanors" as the standard was set by Congress in 1998 - that being the charge of the President violating the public trust.

        However, this time the violation is either ignoring or covering up criminal activity of subordinates within the administration or authorizing the criminal activity himself.

        This isn't about lying about getting your pickle-smoked in the Oval Office. It's about "real" criminal activity involving taxpayer money.

    •  Paul Krugman took a beating over Enron (none)
      A number of high-profile journalists were given cushy "consulting" deals by Enron. But the person who got the most criticism over it was  Paul Krugman, who took I believe $25,000 before he joined the Times and before Enron's accounting practices became known.

      In politics, sometimes the jackasses are on your side.

      by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:28:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like, as if it would be better, (none)
        if instead of getting a little consulting gig then (later when off retainer) dissing them with truthful testimony, Krugman had got a little consulting gig and then blithely sung their praises?

        Amazing, isn't it, what nonsense registers on the scandal-o-meter, and what true scandals fail to register?

        Kerry/Edwards: For a reality-based America

        by Em on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:05:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Cast a large net (none)
    and don't just look at obvious people such as the Novakulas and Coulters of the world but also look at the editors , the producers of shows, owners of networks and papers. I also say they need to look at the local level too...local media networks and newpaper writers. Hit them all. Leave no stone unturned in Bush's Payola-gate!  Cast a huge net in hopes that it finally shocks and awes all those involved that this Bush*t isn't tolerated and the media is indeed a bought and paid for RightWing Conservative Media (RWCM).  
  •  Here Here (none)

    "I will never accept an analysis that says a leader who stands for equality and fairness and who has the courage of his convictions is doing the wrong thing."

    by CrazyDem on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:04:53 AM PST

  •  Same Old Strawman (none)
    The Bushitas are dragging out their usual suspect - Bill Clinton.    This is their defense - Bill did it first.
  •  Question (none)
    With Sinclair, Faux, Clear Channel, etc., why would they even need to do this?  Seems rather redundant to me.

    Democrats must confront the cultural populism of the wedge issues with genuine economic populism. Thomas Frank.

    by Paleo on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:06:47 AM PST

    •  They probably don't (none)
      That's my geuss.  They have a built-in profit center for their political slant, and they wouldn't risk it by taking anything as traceable as GOP payments.   It's the local, and, I hate to say it, minority and female conservative pundits that have the most to gain from being on the take.
  •  attention (none)
    Bill Moyers, come out of retirement! Please.
  •  The really incredible thing about this (none)
    was good old Scotty's response..."ask the Dept. of Education."  This administration takes the blame for nothing.  The contempt they show for the American people is stunning.
    •  They don't need us (none)
      And we serve no practical purpose for them, so they could care less about us.

      The only thing this administration has done for the American people has kept us comfortable enough not to revolt.

      They don't need us to win elections, they don't need us to pass legislation on their agenda and they don't need us to make money so they will do nothing to serve our interests.

      But there are still plenty of people who buy the party lines on abortion, the war on terror and the prevention of gay marriage and plenty of people who are comfy in their suburban houses and SUVs who won't make any noise.

      You know those old bumper stickers that say "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention?" Well, the thing is, it's not just that they're not paying attention, it's that they're not paying attention and they're proud of it.

      "Oh no, the dead have risen and they're voting Republican." -Lisa Simpson

      by Vestal Vespa on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:46:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This was "scooped" in 70's (4.00)
    Excerpted from the Disinfopedia entry on "Operation Mockingbird"

    "In an October 1977, article published by Rolling Stone magazine, Carl Bernstein reported that more than 400 American journalists worked for the CIA.  Bernstein went on to reveal that this cozy arrangement had covered the preceding 25 years.  Sources told Bernstein that the New York Times, America's most respected newspaper at the time, was one of the CIA's closest media collaborators.  Seeking to spread the blame, the New York Times published an article in December 1977, revealing that 'more than eight hundred news and public information organisations and individuals,' had participated in the CIA's covert subversion of the media.

    "As these stories hit the news, Senate investigators began to probe the CIA sponsored manipulation of the media - the 'Fourth Estate' that supposedly was dedicated to acting as a check and balance on the excesses of the executive.  This investigation was, however, curtailed at the insistence of Central Intelligence Agency Directors,            William Colby and George H.W. Bush - who would later be elected US President.  The information gathered by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church, was 'deliberately buried' Bernstein reported.

    "Slowly, the role of Mockingbird in muzzling and manipulating the press began to be revealed.  In 1974, two former CIA agents, Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, published a sensational book entitled 'The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence.'  The book caused uproar for the many revelations it contained."

    From "Myth of Liberal Media", posted at Democratic Underground  (includes citation links), Democracy Unbound (scroll down), and at http://web.archive.org/web/20011217025849/www.geocities.com/alanjpakula/triplecrown.html (access via the Wayback Machine):  "After this embarrassment, it was necessary for the Right to use its own private network to replace Mockingbird. As a result, there is now the Cato Institute, with Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch (Fox, NY Post, TV Guide) on the Board with ATT/TCI's Malone [10] . Another big contributor to Cato is Viacom, which recently acquired CBS. Consequently, CBS/Viacom is now headed by Sumner M. Redstone, who is yet another powerful right wing figure with a WWII intelligence background [11] and apparent ties to OSS/CIA figures [12] . Cato serves the purpose of infusing the Media with Right Wing Propaganda, along with such organizations as Accuracy in Media (AIM), the Independent Women's Forum, the Western Journalism Center and -- of course -- the Heritage Foundation (See Main Page for Details).

    "The difference between the days of Operation Mockingbird and the present situation is that, instead of actually placing network executives, publishers, editors, reporters and pundits on the CIA payroll, their contemporary counterparts are now members of the Right Wing Think Tanks*. In addition to Cato's Murdoch, some high profile examples are MSNBC's Laura Ingraham (a notorious 'Scaifette' from the Independent Women's Forum [13] ) and ABC's John Stossel [14] . CNN's Kate O'Beirne is a Heritage fellow (and previous VP) who is a regular columnist for the National Review. Also, old Bonesman/CIA hand William F. Buckley, Jr. is the Editor of the arch-conservative Review. The National Review's President and Chairman is none other than Thomas Rhodes, who was recently a Heritage Board member. Other right wing journals financed by these sugar-daddies (and mommies) include the American Spectator, Human Events and Murdoch's Weekly Standard."

    From Glen Yeadon's "From the streets of Little Beirut".

     "CIA censorship and media-propagandizing was supposed to have stopped in the mid-1970s after the Church Committee investigated the CIA's Project Mockingbird. At the time, every major media outlet was infected with Mockingbird. Coexisting with Project Mockingbird was a FBI operation named COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO was successful in destroying not only leftist groups but also more importantly the press of the left. Ramparts Magazine was a major target eliminated by COINTELPRO. In one short decade, the alternative press had been wiped out."

    I have a lot more to say on this - so I just decided to post it as a separate diary entry that should be up be 1:45 PM EST.

  •  Breaking News (4.00)
    New York Times
    http://tinyurl.com/6ly2b

    CBS Fires 4 on Team That Produced Faulty Report on Bush
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Published: January 10, 2005

    NEW YORK -- Four CBS News staffers were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation that said a "myopic zeal" led to a "60 Minutes Wednesday" story about President Bush's military service that relied on allegedly forged documents.

    The network fired Mary Mapes, producer of the report; Josh Howard, executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday" and his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West.

    Dan Rather, who narrated the report, announced in November that he was stepping down as anchorman of the "CBS Evening News," but insisted the timing had nothing to do with the investigation.

    Rather "asked the right questions initially, but then made the same errors of credulity and over-enthusiasm that beset many of his colleagues in regard to this segment," top CBS executive Leslie Moonves said.

    Given Rather's apology and announcement that he was stepping down, Moonves said further action against Rather was not warranted.

    CBS News President Andrew Heyward kept his job. The panel said Heyward had explicitly urged caution before the report aired. [...]

    No heads roll at the top for Abu Ghraib but they sure do roll for a couple of disputed documents whose content has been verified by historical eye witnesses.

    What an upside down world.

    •  This may seem harsh (none)
      But CBS did the right thing.  They have to protect the integrity of the news division.  This whole episode made CBS a laughinstock int he industry.

      I applaud any media outlet that would hold themselves up to this much scrutiny and take such decisive action.

      Paging Bill O'Reilly.  Your limo is waiting.

      •  It's harsh (none)
        The episode did not make CBS a laughingstock,
        "Little Green Footballs" a blogger who is a Republican operative, ridiculed CBS by raising doubts over the memos. Even CBS does not dispute them absolutely.

        In this report of the investigation it does not mention whether CBS tracked down the source of the memos or even made the attempt. The scrutinized the people who put on the show but not the content of the show or the source of the memos, as far as I understand it.

        This story is not over...

  •  Bingo! (4.00)
    Kos says:  "Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House's payola rolls."

    Exactly! Let's hope we hear that repeated over and over and over and over.

    I bet Pumpkinhead is the top recipient. I also bet that Novak was PAID to out Valerie Plame.

  •  The Reagan law (none)
    Never speak ill of another Republican or in this case wingnut, everyone on the right is doing this, so whats new from the unethical side of the aisle, not much if this story has any credence.
    It sounds like Mr Williams doesn't want to take responsibility for his actions, gee, I thought thats what he and others on the right preach all the time, maybe thats just my imagination doing tricks on me.
    Maybe Clinton made him do it, try that ARMSTRONG maybe that will fly, you chickenhawk you.
    PEACE!
  •  "Are you a member of the Bush Payroll?" (4.00)
    There are 57 members of the Bush Payroll in American media.

    Start the hearings baby.  I nominate Senator Byron Dorgan to chair and aided by Russ Feingold.

    DON'T BLAME ME; I VOTED FOR CLARK

    by DWCG on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:18:18 AM PST

  •  Novack. (none)
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned his name yet. Novack without a doubt. Pure shill.

    He doesn't need the money, but hell, they never do. For some reason it just makes people like that feel good. Like they're being useful. I'll bet he gets each day's talking points from them personally. (During the Plame affair I remember some journalist saying he ran in to Novack one morning on his way to the White House. That alone got me thinking about envelopes with money...)

    Probably keeps him in drug money or whatever it is he takes that makes his speech slurred.

    And then 2/27/33 happened, and that changed everything.

    by Julian on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:21:51 AM PST

  •  Sad (none)
    This is a story that requires aggressive investigative journalism.  But it requires the press to turn upon itself.  I expect this story to drop down The Memory Hole.  (Like the story about the White House entirely making up Kerik's nanny.)

    George Bailey was a Democrat. Mr. Potter was a Republican.

    by 537 votes on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:23:35 AM PST

  •  Is anyone calling Hannity to ask??? (none)
    My cell is broken, plus I call a lot so they will probably recognize my number!!!

    New York - One of the last bastions of the Enlightenment

    by Maren on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:31:43 AM PST

  •  God, is anyone really (4.00)
    surprised?

    How else can one explain the constant and incessant bald-faced lies and mis-statements of fact from these people in the face of so much evidence and REALITY that contradicts them?

    Man, this explains so much.

    I remember when I first came across the old website "media whores online."  

    It took me awhile to figure out that what was being said was that these pundits and reporters were being paid off to say what they said.  But at the time, I thought it was just from their corporate employers.  

    Now, it turns out, they have been getting paid off by even more openly partisan sources.

    Yeah, we have a free media in this country all right.  If you can afford to pay for it.

  •  Kinda OT - but not worth a full diary... (none)
    From today's New York Daily News - Rush & Molloy...

    There's a new device called a "Foxblocker" which you can order from Foxblocker.com (for $8.95) - which actually filters Fox off your TV. Plus, every time someone orders it - an email is sent to Fox telling them another consumer is tuning out their "fair and balanced" coverage.

    Is this a good thing? I watch Fox because I'm of the mind that it's better to know what our enemies are doing, but it does enrage me. Plus, sometimes their entertainment shows are too tempting - I hate to boycott "Arrested Development", y'know? But, when you guys are saying that Fox commentators may be on the WH payroll, do you think it's independent of the Fox corporation, or with their tacit approval? Should we boycott and investigate - or is it better to keep watching and investigate that way?

    What do you think?

  •  what's the problem here? (none)
    last i checked, Capitalism is the economic policy of choice of the Christ himself, and therefore Money, the catalist of all good actions, should be able to buy anything, including authoritative pundits.

    btw, anyone want my kidney?  i'll have my ebay listing up soon...

  •  Pop goes the reference (4.00)
    I remember a review of the old Wonder Woman TV series starring Linda Carter.  It said something like, "There are only two things that keep this show going, and both of them hold up Wonder Woman's red, white and blue suit."

    Well, there are two things that keep the neo-cons going, and both of them are fear and greed.

    The Real Gorilla - Political cartoons updated M-W-F

    by Matt Jordan on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 10:57:52 AM PST

  •  Need some leaks.. (none)
    from some disgruntled IRS or State Dept. of Rev. staffers... no details, just signposts...

    Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

    by mlangner on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:04:38 AM PST

  •  Buckraking (none)
    In his book "What Liberal Media?", Eric Alterman noted that starting in the 1980s, many pundits dropped any pretense of journalistic impartiality, and started engaging in "buckraking," accepting speaking fees to appear in front of corporate groups--many of which had a lobbying agenda before Congress--and even moonlighting for political parties. He quotes Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal: "You tell me what is the difference between somebody who works full time for the National Association of Realtors and somebody who takes $40,000 a year in speaking fees from Realtor groups. It's not clear to me there's a big distinction."

    In politics, sometimes the jackasses are on your side.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:14:58 AM PST

    •  Williams Fled on Scarborough's show (none)
      There is an rather comical posting on Media Matters about Williams fleeing from the Scarborough show after Joe blasted him for accepting that money.  
      Don't get me wrong, I am not suppporting Joe.  I think Joe was pissed because Willaims shot their golden goose.

      Rarely is the question asked... is our children learning?

      by God loves goats on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:25:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll give Scarborough credit on this one. (none)
        He denounced Williams' shenanigans by saying to Repugs, "How would you feel if it were the Clinton administration paying CBS News, or Michael Moore?"  His argument had a logic that most right wingers lack.  That's what made Williams flee.

        Scarborough has pissed me off beyond measure at times, especially when masquerading as a journalist.  And the whole intern-dying-mysteriously-in-his-campaign-office raises the same sort of "What if it were a Democrat" issue that he brings up here.  But on this issue, at least, he's right.

  •  Hey, do you think they'll - (none)
    ever suggest privatizing propaganda?  
  •  Payola (none)
    Does paying commentators to express an opinion fall under any of the same laws that apply to the music industry regarding payola? From my untrained perspective it seems to be the same thing, but I am no lawyer.

    Also since W. pushes no child lef behind in his political campaign isn't this on the border of using govt. funds for campaign commercials?

  •  his TV show (none)
    channel surfing yesterday, I came across his show on some Christian network.   Turns out this lowlife's show is on 3 different "Christian" networks, one owned by Sinclair.  

    From the NY Times:

    But then he also began writing his newspaper column, syndicated by Tribune Media Services, which dropped him yesterday. He said about 50 papers ran the column. He also began broadcasting a syndicated conservative talk radio show that eventually faded away. And more recently he began a syndicated conservative television show, "The Right Side," and another series for a fledgling African-American cable channel, TV One.

    Mr. Armstrong said his news show ran on cable channels including Dr. Jerry Falwell's Liberty Television, Sky Angel television, the Christian Television Network and a handful of local stations. Yesterday, Mr. Williams was counting the lessons learned. "I have realized, you know what? I am part of this media elite club, and I have to be more responsible."

    Christian my ass.  And "liberal media" my ass.  

  •  IRelevant diary from a couple of days ago... (none)
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/1/8/15466/44665

    And the text...

    Everyone who works for a major corporation knows that opinion-maker payola is a common practice.  Look at Enron or ADM.  How many major opinion-makers were given money to make speeches at corporate gatherings or offer opinions on corporate strategies?  And thus softened up from making critical judgements about the company when they engaged in illegal practices!

    Now that it is clear that the Bush administration has brought this practice into the government, not only with campaign money but with US TAXPAYER DOLLARS, the question becomes who else?  How do we find out who else is on the payola bandwagon?  If we follow the money, perhaps we can get a sense of how the Republican talking-points machine works.  Candidates:  Drudge?  David Brooks?  Howie Kurtz?  What did Karl Rove know about the policy and when did he know it?  See the excellent reporting by Josh Marshall at Talkingpoints.com.

  •  Paid to say this (none)
    I have it on private sources(1) that Armstrong Williams was paid to say this by the liberal elite. This includes G Soros' drug money and cash directly from the Democratic Party. The Dem's money comes straight from a payoff fund started by Bill Clinton!!

    (1): the little men living in fridge.

    Sri Lanka Tsunami Fund, Int'l Buddhist Center, 2600 Elmont St, Silver Spring, MD 20902

    by Nicholas Phillips on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 11:41:52 AM PST

  •  Bought and paid for : (none)
    Here's a bit of background that David Corn neglects to mention. ( previous US gov. programs to buy, coopt, influence and/or suppress the media and the journalistic profession.
  •  Washington Post Online Discussion (none)
    The WaPo just recently concluded an online discussion with Armstrong Williams.  He pretty much conceded errors in judgment and accepts that his reputation has been tarnished, but he seems to continue to maintain that what he did was essentially legitimate.

    One questioner from State College, PA, specifically asked, "How common do you think it is that commentators are put in a situation where they are offered money to promote particular agendas? And do you think others are 'getting away' with it, while you were just unlucky in getting caught?"

    Armstrong Williams' response: "Let me not bring anyone else into this discussion. The focus of this discussion today is about me and my error in judgment. But I will raise this: what are the standards? On the one hand, I should not take advertising dollars? Or should journalists not go out to give $10 to $15,000 for speeches before some special interest group? I'm just trying to figure out what the consistent standard is for everyone."

    So here, at least, he really ducked out on even implying that others have accepted payments as well.

    •  Still doesn't get it? (none)
      Or doesn't want to get it?

      I think Wms is stupid, but how stupid can you be? At this point, he must know that this was unethical and he's simply decided that he's safest by playing this really, really stupid.

    •  The Door Is Ajar (none)
      One questioner from State College, PA, specifically asked, "How common do you think it is that commentators are put in a situation where they are offered money to promote particular agendas? And do you think others are 'getting away' with it, while you were just unlucky in getting caught?"

      Armstrong Williams' response: "Let me not bring anyone else into this discussion ..."

      He could have categorically denied knowledge of other commentators. Further, his answer suggests there are others ("anyone else"). No names, but the implication does exist.

      vote early - vote often

      by wystler on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:57:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  hello sinclair (none)
    Sinclair vice president Mark Hyman who hosts "The Point". Oh, wait, you wanted less obvious pundits?
  •  This could be bigger than Watergate (none)
    Ah, the sweet smell of impeachment.  
    We need to keep this one going.
    •  Sorry (none)
      but Bush will not be impeached anytime soon.

      Even if he was caught molesting Boy Scouts in the Roosevelt Room, the Republicans majority in Congress would simply yell "liberal media" and continue with plundering our future.

      •  I can dream, can't I ? (none)
        Please don't take my dream away. I was feeling so good thinking about impeachment.  The hope for it is part of what keeps me going.
      •  remember (none)
        The Watergate burglary was in 72. It wasn't until late 73/early 7 that it even started to cause big problems. It took a while for things to get put together.

        And of course, Nixon made that big blunder when he fired a large chunk of the upper levels of the Justice Dept. That wouldn't happen now, but we've also got the FOIA and we didn't have that then.

        So it took about a year after things started heating up for him to be forced to resign.

        It takes time to build a case.

        •  Who are you going to (none)
          make the case to exactly?

          The last last time I checked the "Honorable" F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. was still the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

          These days, Democrats are as politcally irrelevant in Washington as the truth. It does not matter what evdience we assemble, as long as the Republicans control the Congress a Bush impeachment is a fantasy.

          I am not saying that we should not scream our heads off about stuff like the "Strongarm Williams" payolla scandal but our focus needs to be on party building and protecing our local civil societies.

          •  to US (none)
            You make the case to US. The people.

            Like it or not, they have to respond. It would be news, and like it or not, the media would have to pick it up.

            It might not be initially picked up by everybody, but if it's all over the net, all over the foreign press, sooner or later (probably sooner) it WILL be picked up.

            And face it -- it would be grand theater, and TV likes nothing better than grand theater.

            Ratings are king -- and if the ratings/interest is there, in the end it won't matter whose ox is getting gored.

  •  Hannity CAMPAIGNED with Cheney (none)
    Just prior to the election... he flew to 9 states with Dick.

    Hmmm.

  •  You can also safely assume (none)
    That you will here/read nary a peep about it from the White House, freepublicans, or the corporate controlled media.
  •  Seems to me that (none)
    There has to be one untainted journalist in this country.

    Okay, that's a stretch.  But it could happen, theoretically at least.

    I would think that guy (or gal, or LBGT) would be pissed to find out that everyone else got paid except him/her/they, and he (she, whatever) would figure out that the only way to cash in on the governmental propaganda scandal is to actually report it.

    Who am I trying to kid?

    Sorry.  

    It don't mean a feng if it ain't got that shui.

    by Doc Bogus on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:03:29 PM PST

    •  How about (none)
      Maureen Dowd? Bob Herbert? If they're getting payola, I can't imagine who is paying them. Amnesty International? They're not neutral but I doubt they're corrupt.

      Just keep reading them- they are what keep me (slightly) sane.

      "Oh no, the dead have risen and they're voting Republican." -Lisa Simpson

      by Vestal Vespa on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:45:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Som,ebody ask the hackettes: (none)
    Victoria Clarke and Dr. Sue Bailey.
  •  This debate is ridiculous (none)
    We all know (or should know) about the right-wing machine that feeds dollars to pundits that are loyal to their cause.  In this case, they used governement dollars, but in most cases they use private dollars and hire the pundits as consultants, or pay them speaking fees, or have them sit on boards.  What is the difference who pays?  Legally, it may make a difference, but in reality I bet there isn't a single right-wing pundit who hasn't taken money from the machine, and morally every one of them is as corrupt as Williams.  
    •  It's the legal part (none)
      that's important.

      You can't throw somebody in jail for violating ethical codes. You can if they break the law.

      •  Of course it is important (none)
        But the moral part is important, too.  For a long time now, the pundits have been passing themselves off as journalists, then denying that they were journalists when it came time to uphold journalistic ethics.  We have to start holding them to some kind of standard.  The right keeps pretending to be moral, but for them morals seem to stop at the door to the bedroom.  Well, I have professional "moral".  Why can't they?
        •  definitely (none)
          Professional ethics are important. But you can't prosecute someone for violating them.

          Should you call them out when they do? Of course. Sanctions of some kind, from their professional peers? That would be nice.

          But if they break the law, and you can prove it in court, they go to jail.

          Do that, and they might start paying more attention to ethics in the first place.

  •  My LTE (none)
    I was inspired to send this to my hometown paper on Saturday. It's short, but needs to be no more than 150 words. It remains to be seen whether they'll print it or not.

    So, the US Education Department believes it's a "permissible use of taxpayer funds" to pay a columnist to disseminate a message. (Bush Administration Paid Commentator to Tout Law, 1/8/2005). How is this not a $240,000 bribe?

    For an administration which supposedly won an election on "moral values", they continue to sink deeper into an ethical morass. It was only last May that they were cited for violating Federal law by distributing fake television news segments as propaganda in the run up to the Medicare debate.

    We are still waiting to learn who outed a covert CIA agent to a conservative columnist in September 2003.  And recently, a House ethics rule barring party leadership if indicted was repealed, then reinstated only after a torrent of bad publicity.

    Unless there is accountability for this most recent ethical lapse, look for taxpayer funded propaganda as commentary and news touting the administration's plans for Social Security.

  •  How to get traction (none)
    You know, the Republicans always seem to be able to take a thing like this and run with it.

    Should we, rather than talk to each other about this, push our representatives to act on it?  Even as a minority party, if enough Democrats started to work this issue, keeping it simple (but including that it's a waste of your tax dollars) and repetative, it might gain traction.  Perhaps enough Dems could be cajolled, shamed, or encouraged to push the topic.

  •  Maybe Bushco treats the media like kids (none)
    It does not need to pay everybody.  It is enough to pay just some people, and leave the others wondering why they did not get paid.  These others will then work extra hard to please the Administration, hoping for some payola to come their way.

    QUOD LICET ROVIS, NON LICET VOBIS

  •  Propaganda (none)
    I'm trying to explain to a coworker how this whole situation is not only wrong but possibly illegal. I'm having trouble framing it. Anyone want to help?
    •  Framing (none)
      You should have to go no further than to say there is no difference between that and state run TV in a country such as China. If they don't get it after that give up, that person is hopeless.
    •  This might work. (none)
      They used your money to secretly pay off a pundit to promote their agenda.
    •  LYING FOR MONEY (none)
      When someone is seen as a journalist (and I don't think most folks parse the difference between journalist and pundit) it is assumed that they are giving us their unvarnished, uninfluenced opinion. What he did was wrong on so many levels. To give our tax money to Williams, to promote a flawed policy, forces us to pay for Bush's propaganda. If NCLB is a good program then it should be able to stand on its own merits, no one should be paid to shill for it. When a journalist does not disclose that he has been reimbursed for his opinion, then he violates so many ethics up the wazoo.

      It used to be that journalists looked out for the folk, they were vigilant and aggressive about criticizing the powers that be, (didn't matter whether dem or rep, whoever had the hat) looking for misuses of power, abuses of power, taking away our rights, etc. It was seen as a function of the 4th estate to always be critically analyzing those in power to keep them on their toes, keep them honest etc. To have a situation where a journalist not only does not perform this function, but abuses power as well by not revealing his comments have been bought and paid for.

      When docs or nurses give presentations at conferences and discuss drugs, they have to disclose if they have a relationship with any drug company or if they have received research money etc from the company. This is so that those hearing the talk will take it with a grain of salt if Dr Joe says this drug is the best treatment for this condition. (Even so, there can be some abuses here). It's the same thing.

      He was getting paid to say something, and didn't tell us that. People would not have valued his opinion if they knew it was paid for. BTW, how many Pell grants would have been paid for by money? About 250? You could look at it that because the Dept of Education paid him that money, they were depriving 250 college students of their Pell grants for the year. It sounds as though he talked about this about 4 times on his show and had Page on, so he probably was paid about $40,000 an hour.

    •  what if your coworker's tax money has been used to (none)
      convince people to vote for Bush ... or Clinton?  What if Rush Limbaugh were secretly on the government payroll?

      It's hard to know where to start -- how would you frame why cheating in a card game is wrong, to someone who doesn't see it?

      As for illegality -- it's illegal because there's a law against it; your tax money can't be used for covert propaganda or to lobby for government proposals.  If your co-worker still doesn't get it, just mumble something about free enterprise and the marketplace of ideas, and walk away.

  •  File a FOIA concerning Bendor Associates (none)
    With all hyberbole aside, this public relations firm is the most powerful in the world; it single handedly brought us the Iraq war. It actually is the vast right wing conspiracy:

    http://www.benadorassociates.com/

    Their clients include:

    Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
    Lord Lamont of Lerwick
    Ismail Cem
    James Woolsey
    Richard Perle
    Victor Davis Hanson
    Amir Taheri
    David Pryce-Jones
    Kanan Makiya
    Saad Eddin Ibrahim
    Salameh Nematt
    Hassan Mneimneh
    A.M. Rosenthal
    Andrew C. McCarthy
    Efraim Karsh
    Charles Krauthammer
    Michael A. Ledeen
    Dennis Prager
    John O'Sullivan
    Ruth Wedgwood
    David Gelernter
    Tom Rose
    Paul Vallely
    Richard O. Spertzel
    Hillel Fradkin
    Michael Rubin
    Paul Marshall
    Khalid Durán
    Laurie Mylroie
    Rachel Ehrenfeld
    Arnaud de Borchgrave
    John Eibner
    Richard Pipes
    Meyrav Wurmser
    Mansoor Ijaz
    Fereydoun Hoveyda
    George Jonas
    Michel Gurfinkiel
    Walid Phares
    Tashbih Sayyed
    Charles Jacobs
    Stanley H. Kaplan
    Herbert I. London
    Raphael Israeli

  •  Just out from the AP (none)
    White House: Williams Case Was Isolated
    WASHINGTON - The White House said Monday that the case of the Education Department paying a conservative commentator to plug its policies was an isolated incident, not a practice widely used by the Bush administration.

    With the Education Department still defending its $240,000 contract with syndicated columnist and TV personality Armstrong Williams, White House spokesman Scott McClellan was cautious in choosing his comments.

    "Questions have been raised about that arrangement, it ought to be looked into, and there are ways to look into matters of that nature," McClellan said. The spokesman did not say precisely who should look into it, and stopped short of backing an inquiry by the department's inspector-general, as some lawmakers have sought. He noted that department lawyers have taken up the matter.

    McClellan said the news media "ought to be reporting in an objective, unbiased and fair manner."

    "The government certainly has a responsibility to help when it comes to providing accurate information and helping to adhere to that principle," he said.

    McClellan said he knew of no other contract in the administration like the one Williams had. He also hinted that Williams shared the blame.

    "There are also questions about whether or not this commentator should have been disclosing the information publicly," McClellan said.

    The contract required Williams' company to produce radio and TV spots featuring one-minute "reads" by Education Secretary Rod Paige and to allow Paige and other department officials to appear as studio guests with Williams. The commentator also was to use his influence with other black journalists to get them to discuss No Child Left Behind, a centerpiece of President Bush's domestic agenda, which aims to raise achievement among poor and minority children and penalizes many schools that don't make progress.

    Well, that clears eveything up. On to the next scandal.

    Sri Lanka Tsunami Fund, Int'l Buddhist Center, 2600 Elmont St, Silver Spring, MD 20902

    by Nicholas Phillips on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:42:10 PM PST

    •  CYA PR (none)
      Obviously they are trying to stop the search.

      I really wonder why nobody is calling for investigations, because clearly this practice is widespread.

      Well then again, this is suppose to be media's job then the FBI. But both of them are controled by the righwings.

    •  Read closely (none)
      He is to blame not for taking the money but for talking about it.  That is another theme of this admin-it's only wrong if someone gets caught.  The repubs are firm believers in the 11th Commandment, I guess.
      •  Yep. I loved that line from McC: (none)
        "There are also questions about whether or not this commentator should have been disclosing the information publicly."

        Or in the passive-aggressive tense: Bad stuff was done, but worse is that our guy told your guys about it.

        We don't inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - David Brower

        by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:20:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What's Going to Surprise Them... (none)
      is that they haven't covered their tracks well enough.  Contracts -- even those for stuff like this -- are written way down the the lower-level bowels of the bureaucracy.  The political appointees have no idea of all the things that go into that process -- they just crack the whip and it gets done.  But there are some pretty easy ways to dig this stuff up.

      It will take time and patience, though...

      I'm GregP and I approve this message.

      by GregP on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 01:32:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Denial by Bushco means guilt (none)
      Anytime they deny something, they are guilty of worse.
  •  Just Imagine the Scandal.. (none)
    if a liberal columnist had been revealed as taking money from the Clinton administration.
  •  Oh, this is rich. (4.00)
    "I'm not going to defend myself that way."

    WTF?!?! He just has!  Why put it out there if unless, of course, his usual vociferous amen corner is turning on him.

    Well, well, well--now THIS will be interesting!

    "But sir, we've already lost the dock." A Zion Lieutenant to Commander Lock, The Matrix Revolutions

    by AuntiePeachy on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 12:51:36 PM PST

  •  Corn (none)
    said that Armstrong used the expression subcontractor.  Start with the subcontractor.  That must be part of the contract with DOE.  Let's get a copy of the contract.  Where's the paperwork?

    What is essential is invisible.

    by bebimbob on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 01:03:37 PM PST

    •  "Follow the Money" (none)
      You start by inentifying the prime contractor -- the firm with direct privity of contract with the government.  Then you FOIA the documents related to approvals for subcontracts.

      As I mentioned above, I'm going to post a diary later this evening with details about how to go about doing this, as a dKos community distributed opposition research project.

      I'm GregP and I approve this message.

      by GregP on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 01:27:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The subconttract was with Ketchum (none)
      DOE contracted with Ketchum PR. Ketechum contracted with Benedict Armstrong, so there will be nothing from DOE directly to Williams, unfortunately....

      Nefarious subcontracts happen all the time in DC.....It's the way favorite constituencies/PR agencies, etc. are paid off.....

  •  Michelle Malkin (none)
    I would not be surprised, along with Ann Coulter of course.
  •  Frank Luntz (none)
    That stupid, ugly pollster that used to be on MSNBC. God, was he a schill for Shrub!
  •  What the hell does this mean? (none)
    "Questions have been raised about that arrangement, it ought to be looked into, and there are ways to look into matters of that nature," McClellan said.

    Questions have been raised by WHOM? The same people who paid him off? What kind of questions? Like "wow, do you think anyone will find out that we paid him off?"? That would be my bet.

    Grrrrrrrrr.

  •  I have two wishes (none)
    I wish i knew how to file a FOIA petition
    I wish once I had done that, that lots of wingnuts names would be revealed.

    Here's to me hoping others can do it and will do it.

    I am a Reform Democrat

    by Pounder on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:19:29 PM PST

  •  "fair and balanced" (none)
    The ultimate frustration is that no matter how many of these stories come out, there will still be a large subset of the American voting public that honestly believes in the myth of the Liberal Media Bias.

    As long as the myth is around, stuff like this will be seen as "leveling the playing ground."

    "Oh no, the dead have risen and they're voting Republican." -Lisa Simpson

    by Vestal Vespa on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 02:40:10 PM PST

  •  Steve & Cokie (none)
    I nominate Steve & Cokie Roberts, they long ago perfected the art of appearing as 'journalists' while continuing to take substantial sums from various group to produce and host events. Remember the "Cokie Watch" from James Warren of the Chicago Tribune.

    To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it

    by meade on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 03:30:38 PM PST

  •  feel better now? (none)
    I don't.

    White House: Williams Case Was Isolated

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - The White House said Monday that the case of the Education Department paying a conservative commentator to plug its policies was an isolated incident, not a practice widely used by the Bush administration.

    With the Education Department still defending its $240,000 contract with syndicated columnist and TV personality Armstrong Williams, White House spokesman Scott McClellan was cautious in choosing his comments.

    "Questions have been raised about that arrangement, it ought to be looked into, and there are ways to look into matters of that nature," McClellan said. The spokesman did not say precisely who should look into it, and stopped short of backing an inquiry by the department's inspector-general, as some lawmakers have sought. He noted that department lawyers have taken up the matter.

    The Government Accountability Office is already investigating whether the department illegally promoted the No Child Left Behind law with a video that looks like a news story but fails to make clear the reporter involved was paid by the government. The GAO is also reviewing why the department paid for rankings of how reporters are covering the law.

    link

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 03:44:31 PM PST

    •  oops, see it's been posted above (none)
      but i still don't feel better.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 04:01:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sold out by the White House (none)
      I also saw this story and thought, "If I was Williams, I would be steaming right now" because it makes him seem like he is the only one who ever did this. And according to the Nation story, he thought there were a lot more than he doing this already. Now he finds out that the WH says this is an isolated case.

      Talk to us Armstrong Williams. Tell us your secrets or else you go down in history as the only isolated case. Think of when they do a story on this on the History Channel a few years from now. Not that you were a good broadcaster, but that you took money to promote a political agenda.

  •  Changing the rules... (none)
    What Armstrong Williams and his $240,000 payola scandal means is much bigger than one unethical journalist.  There are undoubtably others.  But more to the point, what is the difference between a pundit who has their job at the Weekly Standard, a subsidized Murdoch rag, and Williams taking money directly to spew on TV?  Is there really an ethical question here, or are we just encountering a vastly superior political machine and wringing our hands that the other side isn't playing by the old rules?  

    As the CBS Rathergate story suggests, it is the power of the right-wing infrastructure that the next DNC Chair must combat up and down the ticket.  They have created what my boss Simon calls 'an information age Tammany Hall'.  We now need to figure out how to rewrite the rules in our favor, just as they did in theirs.  That's why I support Simon Rosenberg, who supported and incubated the Phoenix Project.  We need someone who 'gets' the perverse media and political environment and has a track record of thinking about and addressing it.

    •  You beat me to the punch (none)
      about pointing out how little difference there is between actually taking payola and being on the payroll of those organizations whose interests are protected/furthered by the right-wing infrastructure.

      One feels slimier, but really, aren't they the same thing?  One just doesn't have the whiff of inappropriateness to it because the government isn't writing the checks directly.

      You and I are still paying for all of it though.

      "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us." - former Texas Governor Miriam Ferguson, on barring foreign language teaching

      by JT88 on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 05:18:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tucker Carlson (none)
    Haven't seen anyone mention him yet, but that's the first name which popped into my head.
  •  Lisa Myers (none)
    I can still remember her saying on the night of the election (from where she was reporting with members of the Bush family) that Rove just stated that the exit poll numbers were wrong and off by 3-5% or so.  I screamed Noooo! They are screwing with the votes again.

    Also, does anyone think it is kind of funny that right after this story breaks about paying Williams that all of a sudden the report is in about the CBS execs and that they were canned.  It sort of takes the steam off of the story of the payola scam.  I just watched Chris Matthews talk about the CBS thing for 30 minutes.  He was talking about how the press has to change and not be influenced by their own political attitudes and not one mention of the payola thing.

    •  just wrote to (none)
      the Networks, asking why they spent so much airtime on "rathergate" while ignoring "payolagate" -- since the latter has the greater impact on journalism (not to mention the criminal aspect).  Their emails are: evening@cbsnews.com, nightly@nbc.com, and netaudr@abc.com.  I gave up on MSNBC long ago, especially when I saw how low their ratings are anyway!
  •  Two bloggers have taken action (none)
    Ok, at least two bloggers are taking action:

    • Jeff Jarvis over at Buzz Machine has filed a FOIA request with the Department of Education for any other fees paid for propagandizing

    • Oliver Willis over at Oliver Willis has sent emails to the following conservative commentators and received the following results:

    I encourage you to contact them as well and post here if you get a response from them.

    David Brooks: No response yet.
    Jonah Goldberg: No response yet.
    Sean Hannity: No response yet.
    Brit Hume: No response yet.
    Laura Ingraham: No response yet.
    Charles Krauthammer: No response yet.
    Rush Limbaugh: No response yet.
    Bill O'Reilly: No response yet.
    William Safire: No response yet.
    Joe Scarborough: No response yet.
    Jay Severin: No response yet.

    A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

    by tmo on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 05:02:40 PM PST

  •  Special Prosecutor (none)
    We need to start calling loudly for a special prosecutor to be appointed here. That's not to
    say we shouldn't keep up the heat, and file FOIA requests, and do everything else we can to keep the pressure up and the story alive.

    But its likely their were several violations of criminal statutes, and its likely that a serious
    criminal probe would uncover substantial evidence of wrong doing, rising to the level of an impeachable offense. If a special prosecutor was to give the House judiciary committee a report detailing impeachable offensive by President Bush, and they did not act on it; or if they had a show trial, and dismissed it; or if they voted articles of impeachment, but were voted down on the House floor; we can take that and hang it around the Republicans' necks for the next three election cycles at least.

    If articles of impeachment did pass, then
    the Bush administration would be dealt a political crippling blow, that even acquittal by
    the Senate would not heal.

    Google-Bomb this treasonous bastard person
    Copy link and text to help.

    by Goldfish on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 05:16:33 PM PST

  •  I dunno. (none)
    Probably about as many that were in Clinton's pocket as well.  In other words, it's not a party thing, it's just politics.
    •  I highly doubt that WJC was doing it too (none)
      because the VRWC was watching Clinton so closely hoping for something, anything, they could use against him.  With their money and their resources if he had been doing it, they would have found out about it.  They were watching him and as many members of the SCLM as they could.

      remember, devtrash, we are not talking about a president having a handful of favorite journalists he can always count on for good press (although GeeDub clearly has a great many more of those now than Big Dog had then).

      We are talking about funding coming from the Department of Education.  Public money.  A quarter of a million dollars.  Paying a commentator to lie about the efficacy of a presidential policy and the abilities of a clearly incompetent figurehead Secretary of Education.

      If Clinton had taken DoE money and given it to left wing journalists to promote Midnight Basketball or something the wingnuts would have had a cow.  You can bet they would have found a way to work it into the impeachment hearings.

      And rightly so, because it looks on the surface to be an impeachable offense.  I only hope we can prove that GeeDub was involved.

      This could be our Watergate.  And I bet someone in the blogosphere will turn out to be our Woodstein.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 07:19:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No Pundit Left Behind - The FOIA Project (none)

    I'm GregP and I approve this message.

    by GregP on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 06:31:47 PM PST

  •  Just sent this letter to Ingraham, Hannity, O'Reil (none)
    and O'Reilly -

    Mr. O'Reilly,

    Approximately how many government officials and departments have you received funds from to promote the Republican agenda?  Freedom of Information Act papers are being filed by various groups, so I would recommend coming clean (with a loofah???) if you have inappropriately and illegally received any funds.

    Best regards,

    Please notice that I just assumed that there was money paid - the question is: How much???

    Also note: The letters to the others did not, of course, mention the loofah.  

    New York - One of the last bastions of the Enlightenment

    by Maren on Mon Jan 10, 2005 at 07:18:02 PM PST

  •  Armstrong (none)
    Media Whores that I believe is out to pasture has a link to a pretty inclusive list of media whores although it is getting old the characters on the list are still around.  It is disturbing that there are so many journalists willing to sell-out our country for a little extra comfort.  It could be that these jounalists are all no talents who couldn't pull down a good living as a journalist unless they did some low-life thing like lie to their audiences, and worse faking the news.  The audience walks away thinking that they have been informed when they were professionally misinformed.  If it isn't illegal it should be.
  •  Armstrong Williams Redux? (none)
    On the heels of the Armstrong Williams "Payolagate" scandal come rumors that Bush administration may be planning additional outreach to the African-American community.

    While not confirmed, the DC grapevine has it that the Bush folks have in fact asked NWA and their lead man Ice Cube to perform their smash hit "Straight Out of Compton" at the inaugural.

    I heard that NWA was replacing Toby Keith, who was supposed to sing "Buy My CDs or Bin Laden Wins" and "Video Soldier, Real Life Cracker."

  •  clarifying (none)
    We need to be careful with the terms we use here, we need to have clear meanings for "Journalist" and "Reporter" and Editorial Functionary and Pundit and Columnist.  

    Logically the major media and the Professional Journalists ought to be on "our side" on this one -- afterall, "TRUST" in the reasonable truthfulness of their product is the basis of their business.  Take away trust and it will impact their bottom line plus any claim they have to any reporters privilege.  They have a lot to loose -- so let's try to force them to engage and clean up their industry.

    Step one is to get them to disclose any paid relationships any of their reporters, journalists and editors have beyond the basic relationship between the professional journalist and the employer.  Many of these relationships in no way compromise the professional -- for instance, if a reporter takes a story and develops it into a book, and then has financial relationships with a publisher and all -- disclosure alone should not be a problem.  Where it is a problem is when the information about the relationship is shielded.  It is the secrecy of the relationship that leads to corruption.

    Second step -- Time to discriminate between editorial opinion, published without an author's name on the editorial page -- and commentary, which frequently is syndicated material not under the immediate editorial control of a paper.  When the NYTimes contracts with Paul Krugman to produce two columns per week it in essence is buying some of the cache that goes along with a chair in Economics at Princeton.  We can assume that Princeton pays Krugman, and provides resources to further his scholarly work.  But if anyone else is paying him in a way that would influence his column -- I'd want to know about it in reading his books and columns.  Krugman takes care of this "disclosure and sourcing" fairly well in the acknowledgements and preface to his book -- but I think both print and electronic major media ought to regularly provide such disclosure.  We don't need to know the community groups you belong to -- but we certainly do need to know about who else pays you and influences your commentary.  We need to campaign to get the print and electronic media to fully disclose.  

    Above all we need to focus on a couple of clear demands.  One would be total transparency in all Public Relations budgets in Government.  The contracts and everything about them ought to be published in the Federal Register.  Goals need to be explicit -- and reasons for outsourcing clear.  (Why can't the Department of Education use its own in-house staff to explain its programs to the public?)  Contract performance needs to be evaluated.  Bidding on contracts needs to be open and competitive.  My guess is that in many departments outsourcing PR has become a huge boondoggle -- and focusing on making that case and cutting these budgets might be a great mission.  In the case of Armstrong Williams it does not appear to me that he generated much Black support for NCLB.  As I read it many Black Community groups are pretty pissed about this program.  

    I'd also like to call attention here to C-Span. Williams has been a very frequent guest on Washington Journal -- in one instance I think he had a whole hour on No Child Left Behind.  Perhaps we need to raise a little dickens with their disclosure policy.  Many of their guests are advocates employed by think tanks and public interest organizations -- we need to know who are the primary funders of these advocacy sponosrs.  

  •  i already assumed that (none)

    What is wrong with these fucking people??!

    by Lud on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 06:22:20 AM PST

  •  Assumption of guilt? (none)
    Until names are named, we can assume every conservative pundit is on the White House's payola roll

    Shouldn't it be that we can assume every conservative pundit (gosh, it's even possible that center and left pundits might be guilty, too...) is a suspect?

    In 360+ comments I didn't see anyone raise this point, so thought I should.  Assumption of guilt, no matter how likely..  we're not supposed to DO that!  Not in this country.  (Hence torture and indefinite detainment being a problem, for instance.)

    Great points are raised above... please, just give due process its due.

    •  Dollars for hate ? (none)
      "Shouldn't it be that we can assume every conservative pundit (gosh, it's even possible that center and left pundits might be guilty, too...) is a suspect?" - First of all, this is a website and not a court of law. We're not organizing any sort of mob action but - rather - we are venting after having received tentative confirmation of what many of us have suspected all along.

      I used to work with retarded adults, and I would say that their arguments were usually more coherent  - easier to follow despite linguistic difficulties -  than those garbled apologetics I read that come from the US right's punditocracy and journalistic class :

      : they are not retarded - as far as I can tell - by way of their ability to type, talk on TV, and - presumeably - to navigate modern life.

      So, the only general frame that enables me to make any sense of their apologetics and hate speech is that of Payola : they know better, generally, but have sold out to the highest bidder - they are being bribed.

      And, what rankles me more than the possibly pervasive nature of this payola scandal is the fact that some of those pundits and journalists may have been receiving bribes to broadcast the sort of vicious hate speech that has become so common on the US right.

      Dollars for hate.

  •  Rush's Take and a Democrat Caller (none)
  •  CategoryMedia<a href= (none)
  •  Breaking campaign laws? (none)
    Could Mr Williams's being paid by the Administration be a violation of campaign laws?  This was an election year...and he basically gave free advertising to the administartion during a campaign season.

    You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think. -- Milton Berle

    by ChgoBrad on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 05:10:07 PM PST

  •  Kos, are you on the Dems payola rolls? (none)
    Seems like a fair question. Perhaps you should reveal if you got money from any Dem candidate?
    •  He fessed up, but perhaps forgot... (none)
      http://www.dailykos.net/archives/002972.html

      Kos was (is?) a paid consultant to Dean.  Does that make him a criminal, prostituting himself and abandoning all principle (as posts above suggest)?  Just curious if someone could clear that up for me....

      •  Nope not criminal, (none)
        But it is good that he was transparent about it.
        •  Hardly transparent.... (none)
          Here's what Kos said:

          But for the record, I will not discuss my role within the Dean campaign, other than to say it's technical, not message or strategy.

          He also didn't discuss numbers:  $3,000 per month (each) for him and his partner, apparently.  So he disclosed a financial nexus, but nothing else, along with pablum about it not influencing his views.  This isn't the standard of objectivity that we hope for in the media, and expect in blogs (which we fervently hope to be driven by intellectual and emotional zeal, not corporate or campaign underwriting).  The point is that once the guy who's controlling the content is "on the take," whether disclosed or not, you have to question, seriously, what's going on.  I don't think that's a particularly controversial point, and is one that echoes throughout this thread.  But having said all that, the existence of financial ties likewise does not diminish the underlying value of the message, which will stand or fall of its own accord.

  •  Conservative? (none)
    Oh my.

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