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On Armstrong Williams

Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams accepts $240,000 from the Department of Education to shill for the No Child Left Behind act, and now he's surprised that people are shocked and outraged about details of the arrangement.

There's lots of links to coverage of the story via InstaPundit, The Moderate Voice.

For my money the most pro-active reaction to the Williams payola scandal seems to be coming from Buzzmachines's Jeff Jarvis who is filing a flurry of Freedom of Information Act requests. The information he gathers will be especially interesting since this New York Times article implies that practice of financing journalists of creating pseudo-news reports predates the Bush administration. Who else has been getting deals like Williams? Buzzmachine is going to find out.

In the last paragraph of the Times story Armstrong Williams has this to say, "I have realized, you know what? I am part of this media elite club, and I have to be more responsible"

Apparently given that Williams' syndicated column was dropped as will (most likely) his TV show and appearances, 'was' and 'should have been' seem like more accurate terms.

Jarvis also notes that Williams' story should be a cautionary tale for the blogosphere. Amen...


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference On Armstrong Williams:

» The Unabrewer linked with Some thoughts on the Williams/NCLB fiasco

» Carpe Bonum linked with Armstrong Williams: something constructive

» The Moderate Voice linked with White House Paid A Commentator To Argue Its Case

» Powerpundit linked with More On Armstrong Williams

» Ramblings' Journal linked with Williams-gate fallout: Armstrong apologizes

» Secure Liberty linked with Williams Paid Off

» Electronic Chickens linked with Blogola

Comments (14)

Dude...I don't know about y... (Below threshold)

Dude...I don't know about you...but I'm jealous I didn't hear the ka-ching of mad blog money.

Heck I'd talk up a stupid g... (Below threshold)

Heck I'd talk up a stupid government program for half that amount of money.

Seriously though, I bet there is more of this crap going on. The government spends trillions and has lost respect for thousands.

Poor Williams. He's fought ... (Below threshold)

Poor Williams. He's fought the good fight, but no one will remember that now.

The real scandal is about the Feds, not Williams. What were they thinking?! How much of this sort of cr*p is going on? As a citizen, I feel betrayed.

Why are the Feds getting sl... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Why are the Feds getting slammed for this? They paid someone to advertise a federal program. Same as they have done for decades. Why is that suddenly wrong?

Williams is the one who has to protect his image as a dispassionate commentator or be up front about his accepting this payment. I can understand him getting heat over this but unless the Feds flat out lied about it, then they haven't done anything terrible.

Notice the difference in ho... (Below threshold)

Notice the difference in how Armstrong Williams is treated for shilling for Bush and how Dan Rather was and is treated for shilling for the DNC? At least no one has shown that Williams lied or promulgated forged documents. Armstrong Williams is a great American. I once appeared on his show to discuss a police-related story and found him to be an honest and devote conservative. Too bad he made such a terrible mistake.

By the way, does anyone see a connection between the feeding frenzy on this story and the deafening silence about the fact CBS refuses to release the report on their internal investigation regarding Rathergate?

At least Williams is man en... (Below threshold)

At least Williams is man enough to admit he made a mistake and isn't blowing smoke up our asses with b.s. excuses.

What say you, Mr. Rather?

What Les Nessman and jim wr... (Below threshold)

What Les Nessman and jim wrote (^^).

Armstrong, shame on you. Y... (Below threshold)
Pat Adkins:

Armstrong, shame on you. You now join Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton, as paid hacks. It hasn't hurt Jesse/Sharpton, why you?
Oh, I forgot. You're conservative.

Hmmmm, it was before the el... (Below threshold)
Dave Kozerow:

Hmmmm, it was before the election, my memory is fading, but wasn't there a Boston Globe reporter who wrote a Kerry bio? Who paid him?

Wait a minute..isn't Willia... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Wait a minute..isn't Williams saying that he works for a P.R. firm? And that was a well known fact about him? And the Feds paid the firm, not Williams directly?

There's less and less to this story as time goes by.

Is this the same Armstrong ... (Below threshold)

Is this the same Armstrong from the newsmagazine who got fired from plagarizing and lying in his articles from the past?

If so, who would hire him now for any reason?

My memory just needs reminding Kevin..


I don't think the "they do ... (Below threshold)

I don't think the "they do it too" argument is on-point. I'd like to know who the pay-for-play people have been (or are). This tip-of-the-iceberg story should be delved into. MSM/Syndicated columnist conflicts-of-interest are just as bad as the Enron and Worldcom financial collapse(s). The size of the pool of assets the puppet masters - that pay for this influence with OPM - seek to control is much much larger.

I'd guess it goes back a number of administrations and should start from at least the Clinton (but best would be Reagan) years and be tracked forward. That would give it context from both the journalist and politcal perspectives.

Aside from FOIA, how can it be researched? What blog is going to dig? I want to read them.

Lest anyone misunderstands ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Lest anyone misunderstands me, I think Williams should pay a heavy price, professionally, for his non-disclosure. It's perfectly understandable if people don't want to read his stuff anymore.

I just don't understand why some are hitting the Feds so hard over this (except for partisans; I understand why Dems want to hit the Feds while Dubya is in office). Were the Feds ethically pure in advertising this way? No. But let's not make a federal case out of it (literally). Unless there is more to the story than has been reported.

I always get a laugh how th... (Below threshold)

I always get a laugh how the online echo chamber twists around these stories. Everyone keeps whining about how this story has become big news, while Rathergate as has received no attention.

No attention? What reality are you folks living in? Everyone online newsoutlet has carried this story and published stories on the recent report.

While, in my view, this Armstrong Williams story has received attention in blogs, but mainly as simply another whine point for people to complain about the big, bad MSM.

First of all, the "PR Firm" mentioned by Nessman above, that received the payment is OWNED by Armstrong Williams.

Second, OF COURSE the Feds should be slammed for this. This is not your run-of-the-mill political ad.. they have paid for. We're talking about someone who has held themselves out as an independent, objective journalist. This is different from a political ad on TV which, in most cases, is REQUIRED BY LAW to issue some disclaimer as to whom paid for or approves the message.

Armstrong Williams should be finished. And he is. And conservatives should be intellectually honest enough to admit - as Jonah Goldberg has - that, oh, say, had Clinton paid off some journalist to push his agenda, indignant outrage would seen and heard for months(and then linked to) through out the blogosphere.






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