Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Defense Of Journalism Act

This past month, we've found out that the Bush Administration used government money to pay reporters for favorable coverage of their policies.

Of course, The New York Times and the major networks did it for free.

But the nerve of these so-called "journalists" is their denial that taking money to promote the Bush agenda is wrong.

It's basic journalism 101- to assure fairness and objectivity, a reporter must not accept gifts from the people he or she is reporting on.

Yet, we hear this from syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher, who accepted $21,500 dollars to say that the Defense of Marriage Act was a good idea:

"Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?" Gallagher said yesterday. "I don't know. You tell me."

Ok. I'll tell you. Yes. You did. What journalism school did you go to? The Josef Gobbels Propoganda Institute?

She said she would have "been happy to tell anyone who called me" about the contract but that "frankly, it never occurred to me" to disclose it.

Who would call her to ask about a contract nobody knew about? That's like saying, "Yeah, I knew there were prisoner abuses in Iraq. I didn't tell anybody because nobody ever asked me before." Oh, wait... Donald Rumsfeld did say that.

The thing is, while every aspiring journalist knows this stuff is wrong, the fact remains that it's not, technically, illegal. If the government wants to pay reporters to write that 2 + 2 = 5, they are allowed to do so, even though it's with our taxpayer money.

Commentator Armstrong Williams got paid $240,000 to say No Child Left Behind was better than sex and chocolate combined. He rightly pointed out, "I haven't broken any laws."

So let me propose this to the members of Congress. Make a law making it illegal for a government official to pay a reporter, media organization, or any outside spokesperson, unless such a payment is disclosed to the public beforehand.

It seems reasonable to me.

Now I have to go. I have to cash this check given to me by Bush to promote the invasion of Iran.

Freedom is on the march baby!!!!!!!

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