Not Armstrong's Strong Suit

Armstrong WilliamsWho better to turn to for a discussion of journalism ethics than "payola pundit" Armstrong Williams? On February 22, MSNBC Live asked Williams to comment on the New York Times article about presidential candidate and Senator John McCain's ties to a telecom lobbyist. "What it does more than anything else," Williams replied, "it causes those of us in the media to lose credibility. People begin to question what we print, whether there's any truth to it, whether we do our research." He left out one important question: what we're paid to promote. Williams was a subcontractor on a 2004 agreement between the U.S. Education Department and the PR firm Ketchum. He promoted the controversial "No Child Left Behind" legislation on television and radio, without disclosing that he was being paid to do so. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission cited Williams and proposed fines against Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sonshine Family Television, for airing the Williams segments.