Mudcat Café message #1390180 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1390180
Posted By: GUEST
27-Jan-05 - 11:40 AM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration

The Best Coverage Money Can Buy

Published: January 27, 2005

New York Times Editorial

President Bush says he has ordered his cabinet not to rent any more journalists to promote his policies, which was certainly the right thing to do. But he still seemed as much bemused as discomfited yesterday that administration officials have been caught making payoffs for positive "news coverage" from ostensibly independent journalists. At his news conference, Mr. Bush said that the White House had no knowledge of the arrangements with sellout members of the Fourth Estate and that he has reminded his cabinet secretaries that "our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."

Still, we were puzzled as to why Mr. Bush had not said that earlier; his administration was caught hiring a public relations specialist last year to pose as a news reporter and peddle propaganda spots. The president also did not say whether his new policy of an "independent relationship" between the White House and the press corps extended to staff members who deny airplane seats and other access to reporters as punishment for their coverage.

Mr. Bush was plainly irritated by having to field questions about administration officials who tapped taxpayers to finance spin-for-money deals. The most prominent sellout was Armstrong Williams, the conservative television commentator who took $240,000 to do administration bidding on behalf of the No Child Left Behind Act while making a show of tough-minded candor.

The latest is the syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher, who did not disclose a $21,500 government writing contract for her promotion of Bush policy on strengthening marriage. Last year, there was the propaganda video on behalf of the Medicare drug program offered to budget-pressed TV stations. Full disclosure at signoff might have said, "Reporting live and in the tank!"

Loss of credibility works both ways. The exposed spinners deservedly suffer shame. But the administration's believability comes into question when officials like Rod Paige, the outgoing education secretary, defend buying faked coverage.