NewsBlog 5000
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Opinion: The Big Payoff.

Friday, January 07, 2005

This week, I have set aside my usual column “Go Ask Alice” to speak about something I find important, both as a citizen and a journalist.
-Alice Humbees

The Department of Education paid a pundit to promote the No Child Left Behind Act.

A contract obtained by the Freedom of Information Act shows that the Department of Education paid a pundit to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. The Department wished to build support for the law among black families. Not only was he paid to regularly comment on the law during his show, but to also encourage other commentators to bring up the act during their broadcasts.

The Pundit, Armstrong Williams, is the host of a nationally syndicated television show. He also brought Education Secretary Rod Paige to TV and radio Spots to promote the law. Williams’s contract was part of a $1 million deal with the Ketchum public relations firm. Williams also convinced Steve Harvey to invite Paige onto his show twice.

As both a citizen and a journalist, I find this behavior utterly reprehensible.

On Thursday, Williams claimed that he understands how his critics could find accepting huge amounts of money unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

As both a citizen and a journalist, I find this behavior utterly reprehensible. The Department of Education paid $1 million dollars to alter public opinion of a law that President Bush used as a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. While Newsblog 5000 does not have the readership of some publications, I would have written any number of articles in support of that crappy law for only $10,000 or even $5,000. Hell, I’d probably do it for $.50 a word, but I did not see one red cent.

Alice Humbees, Opinions


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