Bush Using Your Tax Dollars For Propaganda

moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
for the third time.
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/01/...anus/print.html

QUOTE
Third columnist caught with hand in the Bush till
Michael McManus, conservative author of the syndicated column "Ethics & Religion," received $10,000 to promote a marriage initiative.

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By Eric Boehlert

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Jan. 27, 2005  |  And three makes a trend.

One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.

Responding to the latest revelation, Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at HHS, announced Thursday that HHS would institute a new policy that forbids the agency from hiring any outside expert or consultant who has any working affiliation with the media. "I needed to draw this bright line," Horn tells Salon. "The policy is being implemented and we're moving forward."

Horn's move came on the heels of Wednesday's report in the Washington Post that HHS had paid syndicated columnist and marriage advocate Maggie Gallagher $21,000 to write brochures and essays and to brief government employees on the president's marriage initiative. Gallagher later wrote in her column that she would have revealed the $21,000 payment to readers had she recalled receiving it.

The Gallagher revelation came just three weeks after USA Today reported that the Education Department, through a contract with the Ketchum public relations firm, paid $240,000 to Armstrong Williams, a conservative African-American print, radio and television pundit, to help promote Bush's No Child Left Behind program to minority audiences.

To date, the Bush administration has paid public relation firms $250 million to help push proposals, according to a report Thursday in USA Today. That's double what the Clinton administration spent on P.R. from 1997 to 2000. Shortly after Williams' contract came to light, the Democrats on the Committee on Government Reform wrote a letter to President Bush demanding that he "immediately provide to us all past and ongoing efforts to engage in covert propaganda, whether through contracts with commentators, the distribution of video news releases, or other means." As of Thursday, a staffer on the committee told Salon, there had been no response.

Horn says McManus, who could not be reached for comment, was paid approximately $10,000 for his work as a subcontractor to the Lewin Group, a health care consultancy hired by HHS to implement the Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, which encourages communities to combat divorce through education and counseling. McManus provided training during two-day conferences in Chattanooga, Tenn., and also made presentations at HHS-sponsored conferences. His syndicated column has appeared in such papers as the Washington Times, the Dallas Morning News and the Charlotte Observer.

Horn, who has known McManus for years, says he first learned about the payment on Thursday. In the wake of the Gallagher story, he asked his staff to review all outside contracts and determine if there were any other columnists being paid by HHS. They informed him about McManus. Horn says the review for similar contracts continues.

Horn insists that HHS was not paying Gallagher and McManus to write about Bush administration initiatives but for their expertise as marriage advocates. "We live in a complicated world and people wear many different hats," he says. "People who have expertise might also be writing columns. The line has become increasingly blurred between who's a member of the media and who is not. Thirty years ago if you were a columnist, then you were a full-time employee of a newspaper. Columnists today are different."

The problem springs from the failure of both Gallagher and McManus to disclose their government payments when writing about the Bush proposals. But one HHS critic says another dynamic has led to the controversy, and a blurring of ethical and journalistic lines: Horn and HHS are hiring advocates -- not scholars -- from the pro-marriage movement. "They're ideological sympathizers who propagandize," says Tim Casey, attorney for Legal Momentum, a women's rights organization. He describes McManus as being a member of the "extreme religious right."

Horn denies the charge: "It's not true that we have just been selectively working with conservatives." According to news accounts, the administration seeks to spend $1.5 billion promoting marriage through marriage-enrichment courses, counseling and public-awareness campaigns.

In 1996, McManus co-founded Marriage Savers, a conservative advocacy group, which, among other things, urges clergy not to conduct a marriage ceremony unless the couple has had lengthy counseling first. "The church should not be a 'wedding factory,' but a training ground for strong marriages to go the distance -- for life," McManus wrote.

In his April 3, 2004, column, McManus wrote, "The Healthy Marriage Initiative would provide funds to help those couples improve their skills of conflict resolution so they might actually marry -- and be equipped to build a healthy marriage. Those skills can be taught by mentor couples in churches for free. But for the non-religious, counselors would be paid."

A year earlier, McManus assured readers that funds provided for the Healthy Marriage Initiative "could be used to teach skills to improve communication and resolve conflict that would make the relationship happier and lead to a healthy marriage." He based that assessment on comments made by HHS's Horn, who, indirectly, served as McManus' boss -- although that relationship was never revealed to readers.

Comments

  • SpoogeSpooge Thunderbolt missile in your cheerios Join Date: 2002-01-25 Member: 67Members Posts: 1,531 Fully active user
    While it's not politically smart due to the clear conflict of interest, it doesn't devalue the merits of any of their initiatives. It does, however, completely ruin their journalistic integrity. Shame on them. But then, I cast shame on all the "journalists" who pretend to not receive "favoritism" from their political allies while caressing them daily in their respective media outlets.
  • LegatLegat Join Date: 2003-07-02 Member: 17868Members Posts: 817
    What do you expect? Political influence and financial involvement in certain media is part of political long term strategy since the phenomenon of the mass media has changed the face of our society forever..
  • SkySky Join Date: 2004-04-23 Member: 28131Members Posts: 3,669
    I'm with Legat here. With everything else to get upset about, something like this pretty much gets lost in the shuffle, especially considering Bush isn't even close to the first president to have pet journalists.
    user posted image
    QUOTE (Snidely)
    I guess their slogan should be "with a Trojan, sex will last as long as the Trojan War, with only a fraction of the eroticism".
  • EpidemicEpidemic Dark Force Gorge Join Date: 2003-06-29 Member: 17781Members Posts: 3,104
    QUOTE (Legat @ Jan 29 2005, 01:47 AM)
    What do you expect? Political influence and financial involvement in certain media is part of political long term strategy since the phenomenon of the mass media has changed the face of our society forever..

    Well, this time it was caught and should be dealt with.
    I saw a radscorpion the other day.
  • AegeriAegeri Join Date: 2003-02-13 Member: 13486Members Posts: 1,150
    QUOTE
    It does, however, completely ruin their journalistic integrity.


    Would you care to define what 'journalistic integrity' is however? For example, during the war in Iraq, I found it unusual that reporters embedded with the soldiers of the country they were from sometimes reffered to the unit as 'we'. Now of course, given that these soldiers were supporting them and preventing them from being killed (not denying this was an act of propaganda in itself incidently), I don't really think that journalistic integrity was at all compromised.

    Now, sure, these people wrote about something they evidently think is right and were backed by someone to do so. What about some of NZ (my country) newspapers that in left leaning areas of the country tend to ridicule the rights dislike of what effectively is affirmative action, while areas more down south agree with these kinds of policies. Where exactly, does a news source stating its particular opinion, beyond merely the facts of a situation, indicate a lack of journalistic integrity?
    QUOTE
    “I’ve not read it word for word myself,” confessed board member Kathy Martin in an ill-fated attempt to salvage the credibility of the witnesses.
  • SkySky Join Date: 2004-04-23 Member: 28131Members Posts: 3,669
    When money is involved. A journalist just trying to express his views theoretically wouldn't accept money in return for writing reports with a certain bias.
    user posted image
    QUOTE (Snidely)
    I guess their slogan should be "with a Trojan, sex will last as long as the Trojan War, with only a fraction of the eroticism".
  • SpoogeSpooge Thunderbolt missile in your cheerios Join Date: 2002-01-25 Member: 67Members Posts: 1,531 Fully active user
    QUOTE (Aegeri @ Jan 29 2005, 10:39 PM)
    QUOTE
    It does, however, completely ruin their journalistic integrity.


    Would you care to define what 'journalistic integrity' is however? For example, during the war in Iraq, I found it unusual that reporters embedded with the soldiers of the country they were from sometimes reffered to the unit as 'we'. Now of course, given that these soldiers were supporting them and preventing them from being killed (not denying this was an act of propaganda in itself incidently), I don't really think that journalistic integrity was at all compromised.

    The analogy you've described regarding embedded reporters doesn't really apply but I agree that their integrity is not compromised because they are experiencing the same environment and sharing the same movements. The only difference is, the reporter isn't carrying a weapon. They can say "we" all they want as far as I'm concerened.

    On the other hand, a columnist who writes for an established paper, typically in the opinion section, could appear to be devalued if they're paid by a group who stands to benefit from a complementary article. The merit of their words should be enough and let the ideals stand for the public to decide their worth.

    Of course, the situation in the OP article doesn't go that far either. These writers were paid years ago for help developing programs in which they had some expertise. The problem is they didn't walk out the next day and tell everyone who reads their papers. That creates a sense of deceit and in the hands of opposition journalists, who fall under the same hypocrite definition in my book, it turns into Helter Skelter.
  • AposApos Join Date: 2003-06-14 Member: 17369Members, Constellation Posts: 689
    QUOTE
    Of course, the situation in the OP article doesn't go that far either. These writers were paid years ago for help developing programs in which they had some expertise.


    Actually, Armstrong WAS paid to promote the No Child Left Behind act. The other two were paid ostensibly to help develop materials for similar programs, though in any such situation where you hire a columnist with a known press outlet to work for you, you are obviously buying more than merely their expertise. And both of them had an obligation to disclose the fact that they had been paid by the government to work on a policy that they then endorsed in their collumns.

    The same screwed up thing happened with GW's inaugeration speech. Some conservative journalists were going around the talk shows saying what a great speech it was and so forth... turns out that two of them helped write it! That's certainly a fairly large conflict of interest, and certainly makes Bush's "I didn't know anything about this hiring columnist stuff" nonsense look hollow and desperate.
  • groKKingmImIgroKKingmImI Join Date: 2005-01-09 Member: 34003Members Posts: 98
    Something must not want me to post in this thread, because the last two times I've done it, this window got closed by accident somehow...

    Journalistic integrity is only at stake if you had some to begin with. Pundits are not journalists. They are vile, foaming at the mouth mouthpieces for whatever party they belong to. They are fillers for the places in the paper that would go unheeded otherwise. They bring in viewers which would normally never be accessible outside of the 6 o'clock news. If you met any of them in high school, they'd probably be the kid in the corner who'd always walk with their chin up with their nasal rhetorics armed. I wouldn't place the blame on the bush administration for these bribes, they were probably the result of some overzealous press manager. Let's move onnn....
  • UltimaGeckoUltimaGecko hates endnotes Join Date: 2003-05-14 Member: 16320Members Posts: 2,467
    QUOTE (groKKingmImI @ Jan 30 2005, 12:59 PM)
    Something must not want me to post in this thread, because the last two times I've done it, this window got closed by accident somehow...

    Journalistic integrity is only at stake if you had some to begin with. Pundits are not journalists. They are vile, foaming at the mouth mouthpieces for whatever party they belong to. They are fillers for the places in the paper that would go unheeded otherwise. They bring in viewers which would normally never be accessible outside of the 6 o'clock news. If you met any of them in high school, they'd probably be the kid in the corner who'd always walk with their chin up with their nasal rhetorics armed. I wouldn't place the blame on the bush administration for these bribes, they were probably the result of some overzealous press manager. Let's move onnn....

    Yea, I've been sorely disappointed with the journalism going on around me. Stuff like CNN is especially bad with the 'debate shows'.


    [Something that may be relevant: Jon Stewart on Crossfire, second video (some weird site, though Same video in Quicktime on some other site ]


    It's also pretty bad in newspapers. Back in middle school, we learned about writing in this basic format with 'who', 'what','where','when' and 'how' in some pyrmaid, with quick facts leading to more detailed facts. I'm just not seeing it anymore. People just want to throw their opinionated articles on the front page and walk away with a check. And it's crap. It's not news anymore. So...there is no journalistic integrity.

    Maybe it's just society. Where it's all about ratings (and if someone on your staff is being paid to write biased articles that people will read - then so be it). Well that's crap too. I must be the only sane person in this state, because when I turn on the news (or get the nerve to turn on the news), I see...crap. "Michael Jackson was hanging his kid out the window," "Scott Pederson allegedly killed his wife." and al lthe crap that keeps rolling along. People pay more heed to the new ring Puff Daddy bought than the policeman that got T-boned by a drunk driver. The only thing they can legitimately cover is natural disasters, and it's still for ratings.


    ...and that's why I only take my news with comedy or firm journalism in it. What's most upsetting about this, is that money that could be used for something remotely useful was thrown away on some article that was unnecessary (who opens a newspaper and goes right to the opinion section? Better yet, who is swayed by the opinion section?).
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    "Rarely is the question asked 'is our children learning?'" - George W. Bush
    "My job is a decision making job, as a result I make a lot of decisions." - George W. Bush
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