On September 6, Editor and Publisher reported that columnist Anson Williams wasn't the only one writing pro-administration education program rhetoric while receiving money from the Department of Education.
[A new report from the DOE's inspector general states that] The Dallas Morning News, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, the Mobile (Ala.) Register, and The Grand Island (Neb.) Independent were among the papers that published Op-Eds by authors who failed to disclose they were receiving DOE money. Separately, the office of Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) determined that additional opinion articles ran in papers such as The New York Sun.
We're not talking nickel-dime stuff here. According to USA Today...
Federal investigators probing the department's public relations contracts this week say the department has given nearly $4.7 million to groups...to promote administration education priorities since 2002, but that in 10 of 11 cases examined, the groups didn't disclose — in print, on radio or in other media, such as brochures or handbooks — that taxpayer funds were used.
That's condemning enough in itself, but here's the part that gets me:
John Higgins, the department's Inspector General, found no "covert propaganda" at work.
So we're back to Brave New World Dictionary definitions of the truth. If secretly promoting controversial administration priorities with tax dollars isn't "covert propaganda," what is?
Perhaps more important, though, is using tax dollars to promote administration agendas in the first place, even when it's done overtly. How can any opposition group compete with the deep pockets of the federal government?
This leads us to Karl Rove's strategy to divert blame for the Katrina disaster from the Bush administration to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco. No doubt those two have much to answer for. But if Karl can work that voodoo that he does so well, he'll have much of America believing Nagin and Blanco are directly responsible for the tragic bumbling of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and FEMA chief Michael Brown.
Congress has approved $62.3 billion to date for the Katrina relief effort, and that's just the beginning. How many of these tax dollars will go to Karl Rove's smear campaign?
My guess: as much as Uncle Karl wants.