Thursday, January 13, 2005

Separation of press and state

Despite his perplexing love of President Calvin Coolidge and his almost-creepy obsession with baseball, columnist George Will usually writes pieces that, agree or disagree with them, are worth a minute or two of your time. His latest column, on the apparently growing problem of government propaganda, is no exception.

Will laments several examples of the Bush administration's recent taxpayer-funded media manipulation, including the $241,000 payment to commentator Armstrong Williams and the fake news packages on Medicare and drug use. He also calls out Republicans for violating their core principles by using tax money for propaganda and jacking up appropriations to the Department of Education less than a decade after calling for its abolition.

Will's suggestion that Washington desperately needs another Coolidge is a bit misguided -- the guy slept about 11 hours every day -- but he's right that the government needs to stay out of the inner workings of the media. As Will writes, "[G]overnment by the consent of the governed should not mean government by consent produced by government propaganda."



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