Monday, February 21, 2005

Six Bush media whores down. 194 to go. Who are they? 

Remember that Bush has a budget for 200 media whores "Pair Policy Advocates" like Guckert, and so far we only know about a few them ("PR stands for Paying Republicans," (back). Frank Rich summed up the state of play nicely yesterday:

By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration's "marriage" initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Mr. Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports ("In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting," went the script) pretending to "sort through the details" of the administration's Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such "reports," some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country and have now been deemed illegal "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.
(via WaPo)

Oh, well, what's a little illegality when there's a war on? The war against Those Who Deny Bush Fealty, of course, and the Constitution. Not that Whack thing, or the Gaslight thing. Those are just sideshows. But I digress...

And how about the money trail? Rich continues:

The money that paid for both the Ryan-Garcia news packages and the Armstrong Williams contract was siphoned through the same huge public relations firm, Ketchum Communications, which itself filtered the funds through subcontractors. A new report by Congressional Democrats finds that Ketchum has received $97 million of the administration's total $250 million P.R. kitty, of which the Williams and Ryan-Garcia scams would account for only a fraction. We have yet to learn precisely where the rest of it ended up.

And I'm sure the Republicans in Congress ("It's your money!") will be happy to tell the taxpayers that their dollars were going to fund a covert, domestic disinformation campaign.

You remember Ketchum, of course. The PR firm that wants to "own the blogosphere". Say, I wonder if those paragons of blogging integrity, PowerLine, got any bucks? How about Glenn?

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