I think a few things need to be recognized as this goes further, as this seems to be getting out of hand the more politicians start commenting on this.
I mean, Rep George Miller (D-Ca) had the nerve to call it Pravda for godsakes. Ted Kennedy, Frank Lautenberg, and Harry Reid wrote a joint letter to the president describing the incident as "bribing journalists". What's ironic about it is the fact that the law was made with the cooperation of Kennedy.
It should be noted that this was a Department of Education contract made by a PR firm they hired, not a White House one. Until USA Today filed the Freedom of Information Act in order to see what they had done, the White House probably didn't know what was going on. More than likely Education Secretary Rod Paige was the only one in the cabinet that knew about this, and was more than willing to be a participant in the whole ordeal.
Democrats are screaming bloody murder, and it's working. The White House is trying to distance themselves from both Paige and Williams. More than likely, Bush probably didn't know anything about it. And Williams will be the fall guy, as Tribune Media Services cancelled his syndicated column yesterday. New black network TV ONE has stopped airing his show pending their own investigation. Things don't look good for ole boy.
But Democrats aren't the only ones. Several conservatives are really ticked as well. As noted yesterday, both Michael King
and Booker Rising
(they call themselves moderates, but whatever)raised cain about it yesterday. LaShawn Barber hasn't chimed in on her blog yet, but she did leave a comment on King's blog stating her outrage. Michelle Malkin
called for Rod Paige's head. After hearing Williams's apology, Booker
this morning called for Williams to return the contract money he had been given.
While I definitely understand Tribune's take on the situation, in which they don't appreciate being a vessel for Williams to turn their column into a paid informercial, I think some of the other responses are a bit "extra".
There is no doubt that Williams sullied the reputation of minority conservatives, black or otherwise, by participating in this. Minority conservatives are constantly being stereotyped as being on the payroll of conservative backers or organizations, exploiting them in order to further their evil message. Thus, I think King is correct on his outrage. However, Williams is a grown ass man, who makes his own decisions of which most are unbeknownst to other black conservatives. What is done between Williams and Paige is between Williams and Paige, not on behalf of the whole black conservative movement. We need to remember that minority conservatives do not live on some commune, in which all decisions are made with the consent of the group and everyone is affected by a weak link.
I, for one, am not going to allow Williams's actions - nor any other conservative, for that matter - affect the things I do or the principles I believe in. I'm not a conservative because I like Bush, or Cheney, or because I think the Republicans and other conservatives are swell people. I believe in conservative principles - particularly those based on the doctrine of individual liberty as written in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers - and the profound belief that the best government is a smaller and a fiscally sound government. Those beliefs do not require an alleigance to anyone at any given time. So let Williams do what he wants to do.
I also don't like to see the gang approach, with everyone jumping on Paige and Williams all at once and blowing it up to a situation more serious than it really is. Should Paige be fired? Unless more information comes out in the next few days, no. I can think of a lot worse incidents involving cabinet members and they only got a slap on the arm. Should Williams give back the money? No. He was paid to do a job, and the job was done. Just because people didn't like what he was paid to do doesn't mean the government should renege on the contract. It was the Dept. of Ed's fault that they wasted that money, just like it was the Kerry campaign's fault when they wasted money on Al Sharpton
. In my opinion, the only thing Williams did wrong was in not disclosing that he was paid to speak about the issue.
One thing that should be done is to bar the PR firm Ketchum Inc. from working with any future government agencies or departments. This is the second time they have been behind questionable PR work
on behalf of the government.
Meanwhile, expect more black conservative bashing like this
. The bigots on the left will continue to rear their ugly heads.
: Before I have to officiate the warzone that is kids' recreation basketball, let me talk about Payola a bit.
There is a good post up by Instapundit
from last night, where he weaved the Williams incident with the controversy over the DaschlevThune blog during the election. With DaschlevThune and several other blogs covering the elections, they didn't disclose they were being compensated by campaigns of their respective candidates. In fact, Reynolds co-authored a book, The Appearance of Impropriety
, discussing ethics in government.
Once again, disclosure is the key. I have no problems with Payola as long as you have let it be known that you are being paid for whatever product you are hawking. In fact, we discussed this in detail within a radio class I was taking last year, and I support it even more there due to the immediate backlash from regular mediums. If people don't like what's being heard, they'll turn your station off. It's a little different with political commentators and the like, so disclosure should be mandatory.
Anyway, let me get ready. I may have more on this later this weekend.