The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 January 2005

Levey: Perspective on Paid Columnists Flap

Collin Levey has been a rare breath of fresh air in the Seattle media. It's hard to believe she's been tolerated this long by the Seattle Times. Maybe that "token conservative" label I know so well applies to her as well.

She provides much-needed perspective on the flap over paid pundits that's turned into a headache for the Bush Administration:

Here, however, the Gallagher/Williams cacophony has been more about painting the administration itself as untrustworthy. The story of payments to pundits quickly morphed into a larger discussion of whether the federal government should pay for public relations of any kind. Critics on Wednesday noted that the Bush administration had spent nearly double the amount of money on outside public relations last year than it had in the previous one.

This isn't exactly cloak-and-dagger stuff, so let's try to keep some focus. To be sure, in the Gallagher case, it was unseemly to discover a small-government proponent accepting checks written with taxpayer money — there is plenty of room to criticize her participation therein.

But being scandalized that a conservative columnist agreed publicly with a conservative administration is a little disingenuous.

Ultimately, however, of greater occasion for public concern is the deception or slant of news outlets that get their credibility from assumed objectivity. The revelations that CBS News had aired forged documents relating to George Bush's National Guard service was disastrous for the network and they knew it — heads rolled following the incident just as they had at The New York Times in the wake of Jayson Blair's fabrications.


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