Friday, January 28, 2005

Third Conservative "Journalist" Found on Bush Administration Payroll

On-line magazine Salon revealed yesterday that a third conservative "journalist" was on the Bush Administration's payroll.

Syndicated columnist Michael McManus was paid $10,000 to promote President Bush's marriage initiative, the same program conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher was paid to promote. McManus' column appears in 50 newspapers nationwide, including the Washington Times, Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer.

Like Gallagher and fellow conservative columnist Armstrong Williams, who was paid to tout No Child Left Behind, McManus never disclosed the conflict of interest with his readers.

According to Salon, McManus and Gallagher were paid by Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Wade F. Horn. Horn, perhaps not coincidentally, is a former board member of Marriage Savers, the group McManus founded in 1996. Also, perhaps not coincidentally, Helath and Human Services paid Marriage Savers $40,000 to tout the same Bush initiative.

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Even some conservatives are getting tired of this story.

Tony Blankley, the Washington Times editorial page editor, said the administration's payoffs to various conservative "journalists" has cast "a cloud over conservatives." Jonah Goldberg, editor at large for National Review Online, said that "if other contracts exist, then the White House should disclose them." Debra Sanders, a conservative columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, said she is "appalled." James Pinkerton, a Newsday columnist (and JABBS reader) who worked for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said, "You shouldn't be on the government payroll. It's KGB-ish."

From now on, any time a conservative uses the term "liberal media bias" to describe those of us in the media, I propose that liberals counter with "paid propagandists" to describe the right-leaning journalists among us.

(And yes, I recognize the irony of saying the above on a blog touting itself as partisan.)

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But perhaps more important, President Bush has spoken out about the administration's practice of quietly awarding contracts, saying he expects his Cabinet secretaries to end the practice. (http://jabbs.blogspot.com/2005/01/another-conservative-journalist-found.html)

So why is the information coming forth like a leaky faucet, via this or that investigation? Given that Bush has already apologized on behalf of his Cabinet (although claiming he was personally unaware of the practice), why can't his administration come clean with a thorough list of all the payoffs?

Why do I get the feeling this story isn't going away anytime soon?

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