Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Another detestable media sellout

If I say nice things about President Bush, can I get a big check?

First we learned about Armstrong Williams, the ostensibly independent radio host and columnist who touted the No Child Left Behind Act but didn't disclose the $240,000 in tax money that the Department of Education paid him to promote the measure. Today we found out that he wasn't alone on the Bush administration's media payroll.

Syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher received $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 to promote Bush's marriage initiative, The Washington Post reports today. Gallagher then wrote several columns that -- surprise! -- heaped praise on the plan while neglecting to mention her contract.

Gallagher said she would have told her readers about the deal, but -- wait, you've gotta hear this -- she forgot about it. That's right: Gallagher made more than $20,000 for her PR campaign, but the poor dear was just so busy filing columns about the exact same subject she was paid to promote that she forgot all about that filthy lucre in her bank account. Besides, it was just $20,000 of public money, which is really chump change compared to what that other guy did, so everyone should just back off, OK?

Hello, loyal readers. Mr. Reality is at the door, and he wants to know the last time you forgot that someone gave you $20,000.

You'd think that since Gallagher's credibility as an independent journalist is gone, her syndicator would drop her column. You'd be wrong. The Post's story quotes a Universal Press Syndicate spokeswoman who says that while her company "would have probably liked to have known" about the payment, "[i]t probably wouldn't have changed our mind to distribute [her columns]."

I'd be outraged, but that might hurt my chances of getting some of that sweet, sweet propaganda money.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) on Wednesday ordered his Cabinet secretaries not to hire columnists to promote their agendas after disclosure that a second writer was paid to tout an administration initiative.

The president said he expects his agency heads will "make sure that that practice doesn't go forward."

"All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet," Bush said at a news conference.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks for not using our money to brainwash us. We really appreciate it.

5:20 PM  

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