Fake News Gets Called on the Carpet

Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams"The Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party," ruled the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The GAO report, "the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities," found that the Department of Education contract with the Ketchum PR firm violated the ban on "covert propaganda." Objectionable activities include a video news release where PR flack Karen Ryan says the Bush tutoring program "gets an A-plus"; news monitoring to determine whether stories agree that "the Bush administration / the G.O.P. is committed to education"; and Armstrong Williams' newspaper columns and television spots praising the No Child Left Behind Act, without disclosing that he was paid by the Education Department. The GAO doesn't have enforcement powers, but reports to the White House and Congress.


The Education Department's Paid Apple Polishers

An "angry op-ed" in the Dallas Morning News claimed the city's school system was "limiting the future and opportunities for our children" by not enacting policies mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind law more quickly.


Why Armstrong Williams Wants Us To Forgive and Forget

There's an old PR trick that if bad news can't be suppressed, its release should be stalled until late on a Friday afternoon or just before a holiday break. It's a trick that served the U.S. Department of Education well when, late on Friday April 15, it released its Office of Inspector General's damning final report into the $240,000 Armstrong Williams contract to promote the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.

The strategy behind the late Friday afternoon news dump is simple: most media outlets will be squeezed for space to cover a late-breaking story, looming deadlines will ensure harried journalists don't have time to get much further than the executive summary, and by the time Monday rolls around, it will be seen as stale news by editors with the attention span of a gnat.

Reading the 20-page report, which was prompted by Greg Toppo's exposé on the Williams contract in USA Today, it's easy to see why the Education Department wanted to bury it. The report chronicles the deception, bungling and mismanagement behind the Williams contract.

Where the Buffalo Shills Roam

"The University of Colorado's governing Board of Regents has retained a $350-per-hour public relations consultant," to deal "with the fallout from a football recruiting scandal and the ongoing saga surrounding controversial professor Ward Churchill." The consultant is Christopher Simpson, a former Washington Times reporter and press secretary to Senator Strom Thurmond.


No PR Firm Left Behind

In the continuing saga of taxpayer money used to champion Bush administration policies, the Palm Beach Post reports, "A Florida State University center has used more than a half-million in education tax dollars to put a positive spin on President Bush's key school policies, including hiring a public relations firm to teach charter schools to be more media-savvy." As part of a 5


Loving the Alien

South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy is working with the new Corporate Love Council, "to eliminate the public's hostility toward corporations and bolster confidence in enterprises this year." Minister Lee Hee-beom explained, "Anti-corporate sentiment of Korean citizens has reached an alarming level." The Corporate Love Council "was launched by civic groups and business organizations." Its top initiatives are "economy education for youths and educators and the revision of economy tex



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