Payola-Gate Plot Thickens; Bush advises Against Continued Use of State-sponsored Propaganda
Bush said it was an improper use of government funds, and told a news conference: "I expect my Cabinet secretaries to make sure that this practice doesn't go forward. There needs to be independence."
"But all our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying, you know, commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet," Bush said.
You Think?? As Al Franken put it, "The president also announced that the cabinet secretaries are not to rob any more liquor stores". The fact that annoys me is that the press covers this statement like any other plain old news story. Why doesn't anybody point out the outright silliness of such a statement? Is this to be considered a victory for the Bush administration? Where is the public outrage and oh-so deserved public lambasting of the administration? Where are the cries for impeachment?
Meanwhile, yet another columnist has been implicated in the Payola scandal. In a story covered by Salon.com and the Center for American Progress, it is being reported that Michael McManus, the conservative author of the syndicated column "Ethics and Religion" received $10,000 to promote the same marriage initiative as Maggie Gallagher. Remember when Armstrong Williams stated that he was only the tip of the iceberg? If this story continues to grow, and more payola scandals continue to surface, the mainstream media cannot simply continue to ignore or gloss over this issue.
The other day, Bill O'Reilly invited Maggie Gallagher to come on his show to defend her position. Gallagher went on about how the this is a new standard of ethics that just simply didn't exist before. This is common sense, people. If you are paid to publicly promote a government administration's policies, and you then go on to write about said policies, you better well disclose said financial incentives. For one, this is a matter of journalistic integrity. Secondly, there are actually laws ruling against this behavior:
(From Daily Kos) "when anyone pays someone to include program matter in a broadcast, the fact of payment must be disclosed in advance...Failure to disclose such payments is commonly referred to as ``payola'' and is punishable by a fine of not more than $11,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year or both...the person making such payments, and the recipient, are subject to fine, imprisonment or both."