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Payola: it's not just for radio anymore
January 27, 2005 7:29 PM   Subscribe

And then there were 3 --(salon, watch ad or use bugmenot) One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Meet Michael McManus. Who's next in PayolaGate? And in the Senate, they're going to be introducing a 'Stop Government Propaganda Act.' Even Jonah Goldberg (on the right) is actually calling for a real investigation .
posted by amberglow (48 comments total)

 
I bet, as usual, that nothing will come of this.
posted by interrobang at 7:56 PM on January 27, 2005


...and by that, I mean that this latest example of disgusting government corruption will not be covered in the right-wing media, like it always isn't.
posted by interrobang at 7:58 PM on January 27, 2005


Vegas doesn't pay much on those odds anymore, interrobang.
posted by mek at 8:01 PM on January 27, 2005


although i share your pessimism, interrobang, at some point america is going to wake from their stoney sleep and in unison let out a shriekingly loud

wtf

and then we will have our first woman president.
posted by tsarfan at 8:02 PM on January 27, 2005


i know i should be numb and jaded, but i really can't believe the last president was almost impeached, and this one is so immune from even questions of corruption.
posted by blendor at 8:04 PM on January 27, 2005


at some point america is going to wake from their stoney sleep and in unison let out a shriekingly loud

wtf


I suspect what you will actually get is a sigh and a meh...
posted by srboisvert at 8:06 PM on January 27, 2005


and then we will have our first woman president.
Make it Boxer and you've got a deal. : >

I'm wondering if all this will cause any real reform in journalism as well as government. God knows journalism is in very bad shape lately, at least in this country, and we know this administration never even heard of the word "ethics," let alone its meaning.
posted by amberglow at 8:07 PM on January 27, 2005


The Salon cookie.
posted by arse_hat at 8:07 PM on January 27, 2005


I've been screaming WTF for the last 30 years. I've about given up.

And on preview what blendor said.
posted by ScotchLynx at 8:07 PM on January 27, 2005


this latest example of disgusting government corruption will not be covered in the right-wing media,

It's being written about by the editor of the NRO and published in Town Hall--how much more right-wing can you get?
posted by dhoyt at 8:12 PM on January 27, 2005


My name is Bob Novak, and I approved this breach of national security.
posted by stonerose at 8:14 PM on January 27, 2005


dhoyt, they're afraid of being all tarred with the same brush (with good reason), or hiding things--i for one don't buy Goldberg's "instant ethics"
posted by amberglow at 8:15 PM on January 27, 2005


Karl Rove's To Do List

1. Reluctantly acknowledge scandal
2. Present scapegoat
3. Wave slightly as scandal recedes from public memory
4. ...
5. Inauguration!
6. Goto 1.
posted by stonerose at 8:21 PM on January 27, 2005


4. remove pesky 2-term limitation?
posted by amberglow at 8:25 PM on January 27, 2005


this latest example of disgusting government corruption will not be covered in the right-wing media,

The American Conservative hasn't been able to say anything good about this administration for several years now..

Albeit, Pat Buchanan Was never on Bush's side, even though he grudgingly admited that everyone should vote for him...
posted by Balisong at 8:25 PM on January 27, 2005


Let me just make sure I have the facts straight here. McManus, who has written a column called Ethics & Religion for the last twenty years, was recently paid by a government agency $10,000 to give a two day training course and speak at various other conferences. Umm... don't see anything wrong here.

I haven't read his columns, but no where does Salon mention that he changed his views because he was paid to. It sounds more like a government agency hired a spokesman they thought was appropriate to run a training course. What's wrong with that?

I have the impression that McManus would have written the same columns whether he had been paid by the HHS or not. I just don't see what the big deal here is. If anything, the most interesting revelation is that he isn't a scholar of marriage. But then again, that doesn't seem to have stopped Dr. Phil any.
posted by sbutler at 8:33 PM on January 27, 2005


Albeit, Pat Buchanan Was never on Bush's side, even though he grudgingly admited that everyone should vote for him...

As with the Log Cabin Republicans, decrying Bush's hatred of gay people on one hand, while pulling the voting lever with the other.

The larger issue to me is why people don't care anymore. I think people are used to Bush lying, cheating, and saying one thing and doing another, and People Just Don't Care.

The Nascar masses will subconsciously blame the media instead, because the media has blended so well with the for-fee punditocracy over the last few years that people have given up expecting real journalism.

We all know we're being spoon-fed bullshit anyway, so who cares about this genuinely minor trifle, when the rent's due and the kids need braces?

So what if some loudmouthed prick is getting a check from the government? Bush will destroy Social Security and child education whether the rest of us agree with it or not. The pundits are just there to make us hate the media, distracting us from Business As Usual.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:41 PM on January 27, 2005


I second Boxer.
posted by lacus at 8:43 PM on January 27, 2005


blendor makes an excellent point. Clinton was nearly impeached for getting his dick sucked and Bush has been sodomizing not only this entire nation but a whole host of others (and no, I'm not forgetting Poland!).

On Preview: sbutler, this might be part of the problem The problem springs from the failure of both Gallagher and McManus to disclose their government payments when writing about the Bush proposals.

Covert propaganda to propel Bush initiatives. Non-disclosure discredits the writer and taints whatever they wrote, regardless of whether they would have written or said the same thing. Disclosure is key.
posted by fenriq at 8:45 PM on January 27, 2005


McManus, who has written a column called Ethics & Religion for the last twenty years, was recently paid by a government agency $10,000 to give a two day training course and speak at various other conferences.

Yes: it's not at all an untenable position if it was dealt with properly. If his columns simply contained a parenthetical note that asserted his financial benefit from the programs and folks to which he lending his opinion and influence, that would probably be fine. But, as the link says, "McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed." That hidden relationship isn't appropriate.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:49 PM on January 27, 2005


Yes. While Gallagher may maintain that it was only her status as a "marriage expert" that got the administration's attention, she also has to know that if she started questioning the administration's policies on marriage and family, she wouldn't be getting any more nice little payoffs. So she was essentially being paid to keep her opinions what they were and not change anything regardless of evidence -- which is being a shill, no matter how you look at it.

Gallagher recently earned my absolute 100% disgust rating by saying that Florida's adoption laws, which allow child molesters to adopt but not gays, are fine because "children do best with a mother and father." Come on, you're supposed to be this tremendous "marriage expert" (not just a shrill voice) that's worth paying big bucks to -- can't you at least see past a ridiculous fallacy?
posted by u.n. owen at 8:51 PM on January 27, 2005


Also: as an opinion journalist, I am forced to consider becoming a conservative shill. I could use a car.
posted by u.n. owen at 8:54 PM on January 27, 2005


Hold out for an H2. Also, consider changing your user name to 'u.n. out of u.s. owen'.
posted by trondant at 9:08 PM on January 27, 2005


On Preview: sbutler, this might be part of the problem The problem springs from the failure of both Gallagher and McManus to disclose their government payments when writing about the Bush proposals. [leaving Gallagher out of this...]

Maybe because McManus wasn't paid to write about the proposal? He was paid, as a expert, to come give his views on counseling and marriage to a company that deals with counseling and marriage. It was a speaking engagement; nothing more, nothing less. And no, I don't expect every columnist I read to disclose every speaking engagement they've ever held. It's not relevant.

Suppose McManus had never spoken or written about the benefits of counseling to marriage before this event. And then suddenly afterwards he writes a couple articles coming off as a huge supporter. If you could prove that, then I'd be suspicious of the whole arrangement and retract my statements. But if he's been writing this stuff for 20 years, and Lewin Group hired him as an authoritative source, then I don't see any conflict of interest.

Non-disclosure discredits the writer and taints whatever they wrote, regardless of whether they would have written or said the same thing. Disclosure is key.

Modify that last statement to read "Disclosure of relevant information" and I'd agree. But I still wouldn't find a couple of speaking engagements to be relevant information. It seems like all the information the Lewin Group wanted was right in his articles, they just wanted him to present it in person.
posted by sbutler at 9:11 PM on January 27, 2005


at some point america is going to wake

what possible motivation do they have? no.
posted by blacklite at 9:17 PM on January 27, 2005


For what it is worth, I am a journalist at a newspaper owned by the largest newspaper chain in the U.S. I am also a public relations consultant on the side (to small entertainment companies). Since I don't write about entertainment, my editors have decided that no disclosures are necessary in my writing.

I don't know enough about these last two cases to comment on whether their side gigs required some sort of disclaimer. But for now I'm with sbutler. If it was relevant, it should have been disclosed.

(Much to the opposite, Mary Gallagher said today on the Mike Gallagher show that she should have disclosed it... but she also said that she was paid to write brochures, etc., not to change her mind or talk about any particular initiative more than the other. Her syndicator agrees with her that it's much different from the Armstrong Williams case...)
posted by bugmuncher at 9:37 PM on January 27, 2005


at some point america is going to wake

what possible motivation do they have?


uhhm, excuse my shouting, but I'll speak up because I want MY FUCKING MONEY BACK! It's our money people. Maybe you don't give a flying piss about the propoganda or the payola schemes, or maybe you think that the Bushies are above any law that can touch them ... well fuckallthat! You want to raise a stink? You want the press to pay attention? Forget the partisan sniping or the tisk-tisk head shaking on your blogs. DEMAND YOUR FUCKING MONEY BACK! As long as this remains an ethics issue, I guarentee that nobody will do jack-squat except argue. Make it a fiscal issue, a tax accountability issue, and your congressional todies will fall all over themselves to prove that they care about your dollars. Write them now, do it today. DEMAND YOUR GODDAMN MONEY BACK!
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:42 PM on January 27, 2005


...and by that, I mean that this latest example of disgusting government corruption will not be covered in the right-wing media, like it always isn't.

I guess you weren't listening to Mike Gallagher today.

I'll summarize:

Gallagher talked about Armstrong Williams... then Mary Gallagher... Mike wondered aloud whether he could ever be put in the same position as Armstrong Williams for accepting an ad from the government on his show... but mostly the discussion was with Mary Gallagher talking about how she had done some work on the side for the government that was wholly unrelated to what she decided to write about. Her syndicator agreed with that assessment, and didn't pull her column.

In any case I don't think Mike Gallagher could be painted as Armstrong Williams was, because if Mike Gallagher takes an ad, at least you know it's an ad when you're listening to it. (I don't know how he jumped to that conclusion. I also don't know why he lets certain people on his show, like the anti-video game activist that says video games cause PTSD in children...
posted by bugmuncher at 9:45 PM on January 27, 2005


Hiring the media is a bit questionable, but is it illegal? Seems like the "-gate" suffix should be reserved for actual crimes.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:35 PM on January 27, 2005


I think Wulfgar! is on to something. How about if everyone just refuses to continue to pay Federal taxes? Especially those of us in Blue States. We'll sign lists and be open about it. What the fuck are they going to do about it?
posted by Embryo at 11:07 PM on January 27, 2005


Not to pile on, but member of the White House press corps uses made up anti-Democratic quotes in softball question to Bush, then it turns out his columns are (quite literally) word for word copies of White House/RNC press releases. Word for flipping word.
posted by owillis at 11:17 PM on January 27, 2005


How about if everyone just refuses to continue to pay Federal taxes?

You're going to get your employer to stop withholding, how exactly?
posted by kindall at 11:19 PM on January 27, 2005


You're going to get your employer to stop withholding, how exactly?

It's easier for us self employed...
posted by Balisong at 11:30 PM on January 27, 2005


Well, Bush has always said that you can't trust the media. Guess we mistook the ironic wink for his usual squinting.
posted by dong_resin at 12:35 AM on January 28, 2005


I love how all of this Sh*T is hitting the fan after the election! GRRRRR!!!
posted by wonway at 12:52 AM on January 28, 2005


I hate to be a stickler for factual accuracy, but Clinton was impeached.
posted by absalom at 4:00 AM on January 28, 2005


Plenty of shit hit the fan before the election, too, wonway. But the only people who notice, recognize, consider the full magnitude of these things and what they may lead to are the people who already do not support him. His followers are most often blinded by their unquestioning commitment to his teachings. The country may not be going anywhere good, but damnit--they're going to heaven for it.

Of course, a few grand is small stuff compared to the rest of Bush's claims to fame.

No one died when Clinton lied.
posted by ThePrawn at 5:29 AM on January 28, 2005


from E&P: Cal Thomas said it's a standard provision in his syndicate contract that writers "are forbidden from receiving anything of monetary value in exchange for promoting a product or policy in your column." William Raspberry works under similar restraints. "The major news organizations mostly have rules to cover this sort of thing, and it really does save a lot of wear and tear on your ethics meter," he said.

While none of those interviewed admitted to knowing about other instances of columnists accepting government payoffs, most worried that more might be coming. "There is a question about how widespread this is," said Page. "It will be good that we clean house." Adds Thomas, "I don't think this is the end of it."

posted by amberglow at 5:54 AM on January 28, 2005


Unbelievable. Any student who pulled this stuff would be flunked out as a plagiarist. And then he has the gall to accuse the Democrats of lacking a grasp of reality?

Joe Conason has it right on this one [Salon link, reg. required, sorry]. "Although the rule they violated is perfectly plain, they don't seem to get it: No journalist, not even an opinion columnist, is permitted to take money from a politician, not even the president. There are no exceptions, not even for part-time pundits who maintain their own public relations shops or think tanks. Having a handy conduit to launder the money doesn't make dirty cash clean."

It doesn't matter whether they call it being a consultant, getting an honorarium, or what. Journalists are paid not only for their labor, but for their professionalism. Once they do propaganda, that is all gone. (The pay here is actually an afterthought, as a lot of these flacks would write the same crap for free, as Jeff Gannon apparently did.)

No wonder public opinion of journalists is as low as whaleshit.
posted by palancik at 6:07 AM on January 28, 2005


b1tr0t: the -gate suffix has long been used to describe scandals (Nipplegate, Monicagate), not necessarily full-blown illegal activities. FMI see List of scandals suffixed with gate on Wikipedia.
posted by heydanno at 7:22 AM on January 28, 2005


Republicans. Gotta love em.
posted by bardic at 8:08 AM on January 28, 2005


Nice addition above, Oliver. The more lights we shine on this behaviour, the less likely they'll be able to scurry back into the darkness.

sbutler, I'm not concerned about any speaking engagements, I'm concerned about McManus pushing an agenda in his national syndicated "news" column that he was paid to push. And not disclosing the financial arrangement beforehand.

My question is, what can be done? How can we hold this government directly and immediately accountable for these paid propogandists?

bardic, why? Because they're such lovable and essentially harmless scamps? I'd love the Republican party, but only after they've been held accountable for their deciet and treachary against our country, our people and the rest of the world.
posted by fenriq at 8:36 AM on January 28, 2005


You know what? Everyone's already nailed BushCo. to a cross already, so I'm going to do what every pedantic, drunk twerp with nothing to add would do at this point:

Beavis&ButtheadFilter!
Butt: McManus. Like, I bet he visits the Log Cabin Republicans (rule, they said log) to get his McManus Mi-chealed.
Beav: But like, you have to say that with a schwa though. Butt: Heheh.
Beav: Schwa! Schwang! Schwaniggity-schwoing!
Butt: Shut up, dumbass.
Beav: The schwoinging of McManuses.
Butt: It says Jonah Goldberg is calling for an investigation.
Beav: Heheh, yeah, like, an investigation of Micheal's Manus.
Butt: He wants to investigate the effect on Log culling policy the addition of another Manus to the two already present in the Logs' shere of influence.
Beav: Shut up, fartknocker, you sound like a faggot. I guess, maybe, like, that's a good thing though, 'cause, like, you're never gonna score.
Butt: Shut up, bunghole, I scored with your mom.
Beav: You scored with one of the dudes in the Log Cabin who looks like my mom.
Butt: Beavis, when you score, they're gonna call it Manusgate.
Beav: Yeah, 'cause like, when I do it, Manus is gonna be a hot chick with huge boobs.
Butt: You're a dumbass, Beavis.
Beav: Oh yeah.
Butt: Besides, fags are awesome. They score all the time.
Beav: And then there were 3, and they were in the service of the Bush. And then you showed up, and there were many Logs. Then there were 4, and there was much culling and schwoinging, and you partook of the Manus.
Butt: I partook of the Bush, assmunch! If you don't shut up I'm gonna kick your ass.
Beav: The Bush got scared and ran when it saw you.
Butt: That's it, Beavis.
Fighting.

I'm done now. Cornholio in 2008!
posted by saysthis at 10:30 AM on January 28, 2005






Damn liberal media.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:31 PM on January 28, 2005


more: The next time you read something in National Review, or any of the other party-lining pro-war pro-Republican outlets of opinion in which Armstrong and Gallagher appeared, including The Weekly Standard and editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, ask yourself if it doesn't sound like a Pentagon press release – and try to calculate, in dollars and cents, how much it contributes to the war effort. Because there is a strong possibility that your tax dollars are paying for it.

AND: Torie Clarke (former Pentagon disinformation officer) is now working for CNN--her history includes this little gem: Clarke worked extensively with journalists from around the world and ran a comprehensive private sector liaison program.
posted by amberglow at 7:43 AM on January 29, 2005


and he apologizes: As a columnist, I thought I was balanced in my coverage of the Administration. I wrote columns condemning for not enforcing obscenity laws and its lack of a global warming policy during the campaign. I did praise its Healthy Marriage Initiative. But I did not disclose that I had received funding to help advance it. That was wrong.

I ask your forgiveness.

posted by amberglow at 7:35 AM on February 3, 2005


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