Who needs NPR

Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams “to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts,” and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004. Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but “I wanted to do it because it’s something I believe in.”

The top Democrat on the House Education Committee, Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract “a very questionable use of taxpayers’ money” that is “probably illegal.” He said he will ask his Republican counterpart to join him in requesting an investigation.

Using taxpayer money to propagandize the populace in favor of federalizing education. What was that about the Bush administration being conservative? The party of Strong Government deserves every bit of the flack that it’s going to get over this.

Forget about NPR. The government can just pay the columnists it likes directly. This should put the final stake in the heart of the “watchdog media” myth.