Monday, January 09, 2006

Jack Abramoff and the Media

Not just buying politicians, but buying news commentators as well. This guy Abramoff was a full-service pimp.

It's a story that has grown familiar. Exactly a year ago, after disclosures that the Bush administration had slipped a columnist and broadcaster named Armstrong Williams $240,000 to plump for its education policies, I suggested in a column that the oped pages of a typical newspaper were an ethical brothel. It's where outside experts, analysts and wordsmiths strut their stuff, claiming to be driven by love and principle, rarely admitting publicly that they're getting paid under the sheets for their ardor.

In the Abramoff affair, a prominent figure has been Doug Bandow, a syndicated columnist with Copley News Service and a senior fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute. Bandow had been a favored scribe for causes dear to Abramoff's clients, and he admitted accepting money from the lobbyist -- up to $2,000 a pop -- for 12 to 24 columns published since the mid-1990s.

Bandow has been remorseful. Other members of Abramoff's brain trust have been less so. Peter Ferrara of the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation told BusinessWeek Online that he too took money from Abramoff for opinion pieces. ''I do that all the time,'' Ferrara said. ''I've done that in the past, and I'll do it in the future.'' While Bandow was fired by Copley and Cato, Ferrara's boss defended him and said critics were applying ``a naive purity standard.''

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