Thursday, January 27, 2005

Payola, Shmayola

The big story of the day is clearly the emerging evidence that the administration is paying off commentators for favorable press. This is an issue that gets politicians and journalists fired up- some people are taking money on the down low! GASP! Hands will be wrung and ink will be spilled as the cognoscenti try to determine what should be done about this.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of people will shrug and wonder what the fuss is about.

Democrats would be well counseled not to push this too much- the wrong is too petty, the injury too remote to get all worked up about. Besides- people in glass houses should not throw stones. It was known as early as October, 2003 that Howard Dean had been paying bloggers to build up hype, and the Clinton Administration did much the same thing.
Also Wednesday, Democratic members of the House Government Reform Committee released a report on federal spending on public relations, reporting that Bush agencies spent more than $88 million on contracts with outside firms in 2004. That outpaces the $64 million spent on public relations firms in 2003, which was roughly equivalent to the amount Clinton administration agencies spent on such firms in 1999.
Is it wrong? Yeah- but not "invade a country for no good reason" wrong. The Democrats really need to stay on the ball and hit the President where he is vulnerable- the war, the Social Security fraud, and the ridiculous deficit. Hit those issues hard for the 2006 midterms (Jeebus Christ- am I already blogging next year's elections?), because voters will have forgotten Armstrong Williams by then. But they will remember that their neighbor's son lost a leg in Iraq; they will remember that the country is deeper and deeper in debt.

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1 comment:

Rob said...

I agree that it's a bit of a minor issue, but on one point I think there is a glaring difference in the "he did, she did" area.

The Bush Administration, a branch of the government, paid at last count three journalists to push Administration policies. Using government money...taxpayer money. And none of these folks disclosed their relationships to the executive branch.

Dean hired bloggers for technical web-work. He used campaign funds, not taxpayer money from the government till. And not only did both bloggers prominently disclose the nature of their work with Dean, one of them shut down his blog while employed by Dean as well as disclosed his dealings.

There is a world of difference, to me. The bloggers were no more "journalists" than you or I with our blogs, and they were up front in saying "hey, I'm favorably blogging Dean, but I work for him, too". Not so with the journalists. Legality...I don't know (I'm an engineer, not a lawyer), but it ethically stinks, and as to the source of the's just plain wrong.