Armstrong Williams And The Bush Administration, A Disgrace
|It is a scandal that has slowly been building -- the payment by the Bush Administration of $240,000 to conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to shill for it in relation to the No Child Left Behind program.
As Frank Rich of the New York Times and David Shaw of the Los Angeles Times pointed out in weekend commentaries, this is an outrage of the first order, and we may only be seeing the tip of the iceburg.
Because, if the Administration paid one journalist to do its bidding, to sell its policies, it is hard to believe this was something that occurred only once, and only with Mr. Williams.
No, the suggestion is that this may have happened many times, and what is called for is a broadranging investigation to find out just how widespread this evil is. It is, need I say, far more serious than the questions raised about CBS, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes.
It would be foolish not to recognize that the press has been used in the past by other administrations. There's no question but that news personnel have worked for intelligence agencies, not only American ones, but foreign ones and enemies of the United States.
But the payment to Armstrong Williams is a strong hint that this practice of corrupting journalism is spreading and that this administration might be particularly guilty.
This could be a cesspool, and while I don't normally support an independent prosecutor, one may well be needed here to get to the bottom of it.
Meanwhile, as for Armstrong Williams, he should never be accepted again in journalism. He constitutes a veritable perversion of the First Amendment. It is worse than Jayson Blair, because Blair made up things on his own, and wasn't paid by the Government of the United States to try and put one over on people.