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 Post subject: White House Paid Commentator $240,000 to Promote NCLB
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:19 pm 
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White House paid commentator $240,000 to promote No Child Left Behind
Friday, January 07 @ 10:31:09 EST
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY

Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

Williams on being paid to boost NCLB: "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money" that is "probably illegal." He said he will ask his Republican counterpart to join him in requesting an investigation.


The contract, detailed in documents obtained by USA TODAY through a Freedom of Information Act request, also shows that the Education Department, through the Ketchum public relations firm, arranged with Williams to use contacts with America's Black Forum, a group of black broadcast journalists, "to encourage the producers to periodically address" NCLB. He persuaded radio and TV personality Steve Harvey to invite Paige onto his show twice. Harvey's manager, Rushion McDonald, confirmed the appearances.

Williams said he does not recall disclosing the contract to audiences on the air but told colleagues about it when urging them to promote NCLB.

"I respect Mr. Williams' statement that this is something he believes in," said Bob Steele, a media ethics expert at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. "But I would suggest that his commitment to that belief is best exercised through his excellent professional work rather than through contractual obligations with outsiders who are, quite clearly, trying to influence content."

The contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda," or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "And it's propaganda."

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said he couldn't comment because the White House is not involved in departments' contracts.

Ketchum referred questions to the Education Department, whose spokesman, John Gibbons, said the contract followed standard government procedures. He said there are no plans to continue with "similar outreach."

Williams' contract was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum that produced "video news releases" designed to look like news reports. The Bush administration used similar releases last year to promote its Medicare prescription drug plan, prompting a scolding from the Government Accountability Office, which called them an illegal use of taxpayers' dollars.

Williams, 45, a former aide to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is one of the top black conservative voices in the nation. He hosts The Right Side on TV and radio, and writes op-ed pieces for newspapers, including USA TODAY, while running a public relations firm, Graham Williams Group.


Link:

Reprinted from USA TODAY:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/
2005-01-06-williams-whitehouse_x.htm

Catherine

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 Post subject: My Take On Armstong Williams / Look Out Stedman & Oprah
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 5:44 am 
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1991: Pubic Hairs on a Coke Cans & Racecard Playing:
I first learned of Armstrong Williams back in 1991 when during the Confirmation Hearings of Clarence Thomas, he was one of a number of "Men of Color"/Black/African-American men who came forward to vouch for him. At that time, the then "only game in town" media outlets (ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN & NBC) all had numerous Republican black men on to sing the praises of Judge Thomas and trash Anita Hill, even though she threatened to take a lie-detector test to prove she was telling the truth - which she did - AND PASSED! The media kept on "racecard playing" and kept reminding viewers that these black men coming to the defense of Judge Thomas were unlike most black men you see on the news or network tv as they are articulate and well educated. I, personally found this offensive. Maybe the "majority" population had not seen these kind of men but where I've lived and worked I see them all the time. Maybe the network talkingheads were admitting something about themselves. Think Tom Brokaw, Dingy Dan Rather or Sex Machine Peter Jennings have "black friends"? And I don't mean ONLY the "high-income" types; I mean people from all across the social economic spectrum? And, I don't men just "1" black friend? I doubt it! Maybe THEY are used to reporting on men like the ones who came forward in support of Judge Thomas.

Anyway, Armstrong worked with both Clarence & Anita at the EEOC back in the early 1980s. I remember seeing him on the then "neutral" C-SPAN to sing the praises of Judge Thomas. He recounted an incident where some coworkers at the EEOC brought in Penthouse Magazine to show off the pics of the defrocted Miss America, Vanessa Williams. He said Thomas was appauled by the "passing around" of such material and said this reflected badly on the department if this kinda thing is allowed. Armstrong said after that incident, as long as he worked there, nothing like that ever happened again. This is also where I learned that he has a public relations firm called "Armstrong / Graham", that's Graham as in "Stedman Graham" as in "Oprah Winfrey's Boyfriend"!

Fast-Forward To 2005:
We find out the Dept of Edu is paying a Republican Talkinghead $240,000 to taut "No Child Left Behind" in his colums and on his radio show for the Administration to try to make inroads into the politically dubbed "black community" to get some votes, the word gets out to the press about the $240Gs and Armstrong's column gets dropped by the Tribune (I think that was the media conglom). Now, I don't feel sorry for Armstrong because he should have known better. It was so funny to see him on all the morning gabfests (Sunday TODAY being one) to say 'I appologize" over and over again. You would think he assaulted a woman the way he kept appologizing. We all know what he's doing and why. Armstrong's "audience" is Republican and mostly a white audience. He knows what he has to do get back into the good graces of his listenership/readership. But just like Clarence Thomas was put up for nomination and then left to twist in the wind (by George HW) when sexual harrassment allegations hit the fan, Armstrong (Clarence's bud) is now also being left to do some twisting of his own (by the son, George W). Isn't it ironic how the Bush's embrace these black men to do their bidding and then when scandal erupts they leave them out to dry? I mean, look at the main players in the 9-11 Intelligence Scandal and Iraq War and how they run interference / answer for / make the case for all that has gone so wrong with this Administrations policies? I could not allow myself to be used this way no matter how close to the "seat of power" I wanted to be. But maybe I'm just not powerhungry or stupid of both.

Abraham, Martin & John (I Mean) Armstrong, Stedman & Oprah:
Now, did Armstong Williams receive this $240,000 or did "Armstrong / Graham" receive it? Is Stedman gonna be under investigation? Now, do you see what could be coming down the line? Do you think the media is gonna honestly ask tough questions to Stedman & Oprah about this - IF IT DOES INVOLVE STEDMAN? They won't! Oprah is a media cash cow for all the networks and tabloid news mags and shows. Yes, they may "talk about it" but there will not be tough on her. They don't want to bring her down like they did Martha Stewart. She has the #1 syndicated talkshow and if she goes down in flames A BOATLOAD OF PEOPLE & COMPANIES (Viacom / King World) WILL LOSE MONEY!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:17 pm 
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One more thing about Armstrong:

He's not the only media pundant "on the take" they just have not been "outed" for doing the same thing, yet. It was interesting to see the media talkingheads on FOXNewsSunday, MeetThePress, FaceTheNation & ThisWeekw/George SitOnTopOfThis/Stephanopolous say how even though Armstrong has "alleged" there are other media talkingheads out there who have taken money to espouse the Administration's policies, they don't know of any. George Will, Bill Krystal and the rest all sat there and claimed they have no knowledge. If you believe that then THERE REALLY ARE WMD IN IRAQ! Armstrong even said in his SundayTODAY interview last week that there are others out there doing the same but refused to give any names when asked. What's he hiding? Who is he protecting? I agree, he's not the only one.

Let's explore some possibilities: How objective do you REALLY think NBC News' Andrea Mitchell is when she is married to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan? Is she on the take? I don't know, but she is, um, get'n "banged" by the man who's being paid by the Government, her hubby, and Ms Mitchell is not going to report anything that makes the Administration look bad. At least Maria Shriver had the good sense to take a Leave of Absents from her duties at NBC News when Arnold became Gov of California (A State Government Head / Not Federal). Before she was killed in the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9-11, how objective do you think Susan Olsen was (wife of then Solicitor General Ted Olsen)? She was constantly on the Sunday Gabfest shows (FOXNews in particular) singing the praises of the Bush Administration. But she's dead now so I guess we can't speculate about her now but how objective do you think she was when she was alive? Speaking of George Will, how objective do ya think he is when his wife, Maurie Will (not the baseball player Maury Wills), worked for both Bush Presidents and in George W's re-election campaign? Once again, we have a spouse who's a talkinghead who touts the agenda of the other spouse's employer - the Federal Government and then writes colums/expouses favorable supportive comments about the Administration. Then there is Mary Matlin (need I recount the many shows she has appeared on touting the Republican partyline)? Is she being paid to say glowing things? I don't know for sure.

See, that's the sad part about Armstrong, he's been outed and now left to twist in the wind. He's now being set up to be the posterchild for media talkinghead bad behavior.

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If We Don't Ask, We Can't Learn" & "If We Don't Learn, We Can't Grow"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:59 pm 
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I agree...rather like those soldiers from the Abu Ghraib (sp?) prison scandal...while it doesn't excuse their behavior to say they were following orders, they are telling the truth and taking the fall for Halliburton contractors, Rumsfeld, and the Commander-in-Thief, GWB...

If there was sufficient outrage, there would be a full investigation (there may be one ongoing, but it won't be a good one....too many heads to roll), and perhaps Williams would rat out the rest of the scum that do what he did, but just haven't been caught out at it.

Catherine

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"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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