(Story: USA Today, Photo:AP)
Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.
The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.
Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."
This is boneheaded for a number of reasons. First, with all of the conservative talk show hosts, bloggers and activists, why not try more outreach to get the word out about particular programs or legislation?
Second, why Armstrong Williams? He's never been a force on radio, never did well at all as a talk show host and small numbers of viewers see him on television.
Finally, the administration must have known that the press would discover this deal at some point, wouldn't they?
Hope the money was worth it for Williams as he is going to pay a heavy price for this sleazy arrangement.