Armstrong Williams, a black conservative, has made a lucrative career for himself touting the virtues of the right wing of the Republican Party on radio, TV and in the newspaper. But that career surely over now he has been sprung pocketing $240,000 in federal taxpayer money to convince black folks that the law is good for black children.
So you think that Rupert Murdoch and his Fox TV and Cable business are the devil personified. Nasty News Mogul and his ambitious minions telling the front people, the talking heads and barking dogs on Fox Network News what to say and how to say it.
Outfoxed presents this case, but is Fox the only transgressor? CBS and The New York Times have suffered embarrassment and worst from dopes, dubbos and incompetents.
Now a column from The New York Times which lays out the biggest scandal in the US journalism for a while, the Cash for Comment scandal that involves a conservative commentator who has been sprung taking $US240,000 to spruik the education policies of the Bush Administration.
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Naturally it is a scandal that has had not much play in the conservative media of the US.
They have run dead on the issue. Conservative commentators in Australia like Piers Akerman have also been silent.
As one commentator said they do for free what Armstrong Williams, a 46 year old black conservative commentator, took money to do, comment favourably on a Bush administration policy in his columns and commentary.
Not only that though, Williams also been sprung as part of a soft interview panel on CNN in the last edition of Crossfire, the chat program on CNN that pioneered the aggressive, in your face exchange of ideas that quite often descended into a parody of Australian talkback radio, but was studio-based.
CNN pioneered it, Fox News turned it into an art form. Yelling as commentary!
In taking this money Armstrong Williams, it can be argued, was merely doing what Gloria Jones and Tonsils Laws and a host of other overpaid talk show hosts on Australian radio have done over the years.
But this was a little different. He was also given exclusive access to the Vice President, Dick Cheney and he is also close to the people who control Sinclair Broadcasting, a major US media group that is extremely conservative and close to the Bush people.
In short he was bought. But looking at US reports on him, he was always on board the conservative ship
Sinclair Broadcasting ran an extremely pro-Government line on the Iraq war and commissioned an anti-John Kerry documentary last year in the run up to the Presidential poll.
That’s more than what Gloria has stooped to in his time of being close to the Howard Government and others in power in this country.
The US media and journalism industries have held themselves up as paragons, and none more so than CNN which has had a centrist/liberal (in US political terms) approach to issues.
But as the dead hand of the Time Warner management has smothered the initiative and original programming that existed under Ted Turner, CNN has become a pale imitation of itself. And now it runs second to Fox News, and that has a lot of people upset. People who think that Rupert Murdoch is the devil incarnate.
CNN is not a bastion of good journalism and this story from The New York Times shows why and why the Armstrong Williams scandal is symptomatic of a much deeper problem in the American media.
Meanwhile, a Chicago newspaper also has a good column on the topic – Williams didn’t give U.S. what it paid for
The problems exposed by the Williams case go much deeper than in anything revealed in Outfoxed. Those people into knee jerk reactions should understand that the biggest argument in the US media now is over ‘gutless’ journalism.
Fox News practices it, as does Murdoch’s other outlets, but so to do other media. The CBS attack on Bush’s National Guard record was gutless journalism in that it was so badly flawed.
As The New York Times column by Frank Rich points out, so too is the noted conservative US commentator, Robert Novak, whose failures to disclose certain information about his son’s relationship to that conservative group that attacked John Kerry’s Vietnam record, undermines his credibility.
Note that both Novak and Williams are conservative commentators.
For all his hot air and fame, Michael Moore did not manage to land these sorts of blows on the credibility of US conservative commentators. These problems were found and disclosed by members of the US media looking at itself.
Not by the outraged producer or director of Outfoxed or superstar, Michael Moore, but by ordinary American reporters doing their job.