Thursday, January 27, 2005

Anybody Else?

Now there are two conservative columnists who have been outted as being on the take to promote the Bush agenda, and the rest of the White House cheerleading squad is getting defensive.

In light of the second revelation this month that the Bush administration had hired a Republican-friendly pundit to help promote policy initiatives — payments that were kept hidden from readers and viewers — conservative commentators are calling on the White House to come clean and detail any other controversial agreements. The opinion makers say they don’t want a black cloud of suspicion hanging over their own columns and broadcasts.

“If other contracts exist, then the White House should disclose them,” says Jonah Goldberg, editor at large for National Review Online.

The distrust arose three weeks ago when USA Today revealed that Republican-leaning pundit Armstrong Williams pocketed $241,000 from the Department of Education in exchange for hyping a White House school initiative. On Wednesday, the Washington Post disclosed that Universal Press Syndicate columnist Maggie Gallagher had written approvingly in 2002 about Bush’s $300 million marriage initiative. Gallagher stated that the initiative “would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples [and] educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage.” But she failed to inform readers that she had a $21,000 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the proposal. Now, the question is: What other pundits were cashing checks? [Salon.com]

I’ve already taken the pledge, so unless you see the Bush twins wearing Bark Bark Woof Woof t-shirts, you know I’m not on the take. Well, yeah, I’d have to be a right-winger, too, and that’s not gonna happen.

But that’s not going to stop Maureen Dowd:

I still have many Christmas bills to pay. So I’d like to send a message to the administration: THIS SPACE AVAILABLE. I could write about the strong dollar and the shrinking deficit. Or defend Torture Boy, I mean, the esteemed and sage Alberto Gonzales. Or remind readers of the terrific job Condi Rice did coordinating national security before 9/11 – who could have interpreted a memo titled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” as a credible threat? – not to mention her indefatigable energy obscuring information undercutting the vice president’s dementia on Iraq.

As Groucho Marx once said, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

Updated to get the exact Groucho Marx quote.