I feel cheated. I've been operating so long under the delusion that we have a free press in this country, when actually it costs $241,000.
That's how much money - your money - went to conservative commentator Armstrong Williams in return for his support of the No Child Left Behind law. You can read all about it here.
And this is not the first time that the Bush administration has been caught with its hands in the media jar either. The Education Department has paid a public relations firm $700,000 to institute a ratings system aimed at journalists' coverage of the law. And we can't forget the May debacle over the HHS TV advertisement that some stations aired as actual news coverage.
Add this to the administration's general intolerance towards dissent and to the hyper-sanitized press conferences for which this president is famous, and you have trouble.
It's nothing new for politicians to try to manipulate the media, so I can't really get mad at the administration for much more than using our tax dollars in a slimy, underhanded way. I just thought the press would be better.
See, it's a journalist's duty - as I understand it - to report the news and to critically analyze government policy. So why are the media credulously swallowing whatever the administration feeds them (or whatever some interest group feeds them, like the Dan Rather/Texans for Truth debacle)? It makes me wonder what other stories I've been reading have been changed thanks to the influence of the almighty dollar (whether directly or indirectly)...
And David Broder has the audacity to bitch at the bloggers for being unprofessional. I guess he's using "professional" in the strictest sense - getting paid. By the government. In exchange for favorable coverage. You know, if I wanted to listen to Bush's bitch, I would find Bill Frist. I don't want it when I open the paper.
(Note: Broder, to my knowledge, tends to be fairly independent. It's his colleagues I'm beginning to doubt. Especially Krauthammer.)