Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Friday, January 07, 2005
Bush Administration paid Armstrong Williams to promote NCLB.

This is not good.

From 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.

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."
Precisely what did you believe in, Armstrong?  NCLB or the money?

Actually the dumb ones are the Bush Administration.  Williams, as far as I can tell, is a good guy.  But paying him $240,000 won't make a difference in popular opinion in regards to that law.  Either people like it, or they don't.

According to USA Today, this was handled by the Education Department, headed by Rod Paige, through a public relations firm.  Williams was to use his appearances on television to talk about NCLB whenever possible.  On "America's Black Forum", of which Williams co-hosts, he was to persuade the producers to talk about NCLB periodically.  Williams was also able to get Steve Harvey to get Paige on his show to talk about NCLB twice.

Is this illegal?  It's possible.  It is normal for administrations to promote new laws and guidelines through bureaucrats making public appearances, using PSA's, and the like.  But to pay others outside of the administration to do so, and Williams to not inform anyone on air that you are contracted to talk about this?  That shady.  And I can already hear the catcalls from the black conservative bashers saying that Williams and others are nothing but puppets getting paid off by the Bush Administration.  The only problem this time is....well, they're right.

All I'm asking is.....where's my cut?  Show a brother the money.

UPDATE:  Heh.  Booker is on it.  And Michael "Da" King rips Williams a new one.

Posted at 12:25 pm by Expertise



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