1.08.2005

Armstrong Williams fiasco

Of course this is terrible -- but Bush hardly invented this kind of thing.

But public relations executives said that the government distribution of prepared news segments without on-air disclosures of their origin was a bipartisan practice that predated the Bush administration.

"The Clinton administration was probably even more active than the Bush administration" in distributing news segments promoting its policies, said Laurence Moskowitz, chairman and chief executive of Medialink, a major producer of promotional news segments. After the Government Accountability Office decision last spring, he said, his firm began advising government clients to disclose each tape's nature in its script.

Similar abuses include Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush appearing in self-promoting "consumer education" ads paid for by California taxpayers, Gray Davis putting his smiling face on letters accompanying tax refunds, and members of Congress using taxpayer funds to send out thinly veiled campaign material.

Now that the much hated Bush has done it, though, the media suddenly is interested, and I hope this will bring about an end to all of these practices.

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