Senate Democrats

Lawmakers Demand President Bush STOP Paying Journalists to Promote Administration Policies

Reid, Lautenberg, Kennedy Also Ask President If his Administration Has Paid Other Journalists to Promote other Policies, including Social Security Privatization

WASHINGTON, DC – In light of alarming news that the Bush administration paid a popular conservative radio commentator and columnist almost a quarter of a million dollars to skew his reporting to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, United States Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) sent a letter to President Bush today demanding that he recover the money paid to Armstrong Williams, citing federal laws that prohibit such activity. In addition, the lawmakers also asked President Bush to disclose any payments to other journalists to push Administration policies, including President Bush’s decision to privatize Social Security.

In news reports today, it was revealed conservative pundit and commentator Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 to promote President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act on his syndicated radio program and in addition, to urge other pundits to routinely hype the law during their own appearances on other programs.

In their letter to President Bush, the Lawmakers cite federal laws that prohibit taxpayer funds from being spent by the Executive Branch for “Covert Propaganda”.

“In addition to the illegality of these actions taken by your Administration, we believe that the act of bribing journalists to bias their news in favor of government policies undermines the integrity of our democracy.  Actions like this were common in the Soviet Union, but until now, thought to be long extinguished in our country,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to President Bush sent today.

These revelations regarding Mr. Williams are the latest – and most disturbing – in a series of actions by your Administration to manipulate public opinion through covert propaganda.  On May 19, 2004, the GAO found that your Administration illegally spent taxpayer funds on covert propaganda by paying Ketchum Incorporated to produce fake news stories promoting the image of the new Medicare law. 

The links below are examples of syndicated columns published by the Tribune Media Company from Armstrong Williams in support of the No Child Left Behind Act.