Sunday, January 30, 2005

"PR" stands for "Paying Republicans" 

Back when we were all innocent, back in 2003, there was a site called "Media Whores Online," that performed much the same function that the nevertheless incomparable Daily Howler does today.

But the name did seem a little over the top. Didn't it? I mean, they weren't really whores, right? That was just a metaphor!

Well, come 2004, and all our innocence is lost. Yes, they really are whores. In fact, they're raking in so much servicing the VRWC by writing covert propoganda and disinformation, they forget how much money they're really making. Here's the all-too-typically sordid tale:

Maggie Gallagher apologized to readers for not disclosing a $21,500 contract with the Health and Human Services Department to help create materials promoting the agency's $300 million initiative to encourage marriage. She said it never occurred to her to tell readers about her work for the government. "I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers."
(via AP)

Pause a moment to savor that. Gallagher forget. You know, if Bush left $21,500 on the dresser for me, I'd remember it. Wouldn't you? Then again, my business isn't as, um, lucrative as Gallagher's ....

But citizens, take heart! Dear Leader is on the case, preserving the sanctity of your discourse:

"[Bush]All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet," Bush said at a news conference.

Which is a little masterpiece of obfuscatory qualification, isn't it? Here's what Inerrant Boy is not saying: "Columnists should never take money to produce covert propaganda." He's just saying cabinet secretaries should never pay them. So it's obviously OK for, oh, the RNC or any other organ of the VRWC to pay them. So, the Republican are going to shut down Maggie's house-that's-not-a-home, only to re-open it again a week or two later. Right?

But let's do a little math. How much is Bush spending to help his agenda stand
on its two hind legs on its own two feet?
The House Committee on Government Reform released a report on the use of taxpayer dollars for public relations campaigns. It found the administration spent a record $88 million on government-funded public relations contracts in 2004 — more than double the amount spent in 2000, according to the report prepared for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats.

Let's be generous and look at only the incremental increase over Clinton: say Bush has $50 million in "PR" money burning a hole in his pocket. And let's be even more generous and say he's spending most of it on the high-class Armstrong Williams ($250,000) rather than the low rent Maggie Williams
($21,500). So, do the math:

$50,000,000 / $250,000 = 200

So, Bush can budget for 200 Media Whores. That's a number that covers just about every winger talking head, isn't it? Of course, they can't all be part of the racket, right? That would be way too paranoid, wouldn't it...

Seems to me, then, that every single time a Democrat is being interviewed by a winger talking head, it would be a useful exercise to clarify the ground rules. Perhaps the Democrat could ask the talking head a simple question. Like this:

Before we go on, [Bill|Rush|Sean|Anne|Cokie ... N200, are you now, or have you ever been, a paid policy advocate?

Probably that would get the Dems kicked out of the LWRM pretty fast. So? Shake the dust from your shoes, guys. And let the dead bury their dead.

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