Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Others


Armstrong Williams says there are others:

I asked if Williams had yet been conducted by the inspector general at the Education Department, the agency that had awarded the contract that supplied him $241,000 for promoting the NCLB measure within the African-American community. Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the education committee, and other House Democrats had already called for an investigation. Why should the IG contact me? Williams replied, noting he had been merely a subcontractor. Any thorough investigation, I remarked, would include questioning the subcontractor. He scratched his head. "Funny," he said. "I thought this [contract] was a blessing at the time."

And then Williams violated a PR rule: he got off-point. "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.

Does Williams really know something about other rightwing pundits? Or was he only trying to minimize his own screw-up with a momentary embrace of a trumped-up everybody-does-it defense? I could not tell. But if the IG at the Department of Education or any other official questions Williams, I suggest he or she ask what Williams meant by this comment. And if Williams is really sorry for this act of "bad judgment" and for besmirching the profession of rightwing punditry, shouldn't he do what he can to guarantee that those who watch pundits on the cable news networks and read political columnists receive conservative views that are independent and untainted by payoffs from the Bush administration or other political outfits? LINK


White House spokespersona Scott McClellan says the Williams Affair is "an isolated incident" and a contract law issue:

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.

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.

On Monday, Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts asked the GAO to expand that investigation to include the payment to Williams.

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.


We all know that Williams isn't the only rightwing shill on the payroll.

We also know that Republicans jump on the Bad Judgment defense when Youthful Indiscretion and Early Stages Of Alzheimer's won't work for them.

We also know that Republicans, when shoved up against a back alley wall, will eat their own.


There's only one thing to say at this point:

Let the banquet commence!


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