How Quickly They Forget…

By January 24, 2005General

Not sure how many of you are following the recent flap over the Department of Education and Armstrong Williams, the conservative African-American commentator. The press has seized upon this as the scandal of the decade, in that Williams was allegedly paid to hype the “No Child Left Behind Act” on his radio show. A closer look reveals that the Department of Education contracted with the Graham Williams Group, a PR firm that Williams runs with Mr. Oprah Winfrey, Stedman Graham, to do advertising in minority areas providing information on No Child Left Behind. This contract was let according to all the General Service Administration (GSA) rules, but no matter, the press has met it all with a collective gasp and a cry of “off with their heads!”

So why is this on a blog dealing with manufacturing issues? Because it was not very long ago when the Clinton Administration’s Labor Department — OSHA, to be precise — paid over 20 witnesses $10,000 each to come testify in favor of its flimsy ergonomics regulation. In contrast to what the Department of Education just did, this was not run through any GSA filter, the money was just doled out to allies (“cronies” has such a pejorative connotation) of the Administration and the rule. We raised a stink at the time Download file
(Click here to download letter to OSHA), but the only reporter who found it a little, uh, aromatic was John McCaslin of the Washington Times, who ran a piece on it. Not one of his brethren in the Fourth Estate found this the slight bit unseemly or newsworthy when in fact it stunk out loud.

So now comes the same Fourth Estate — the ones not bothered at all by Soprano-style paid witnesses ( Click here to download “The Labor Department Sopranos”)— on their trusty white steeds, calling for heads to roll at the Education Department, calling for inquiries and inquisitions galore. Must be repressed outrage, bottled up from the Clinton years. They’re outraged that the US Government would pay people to support their point of view without either of them disclosing it. What’s so ironic is that this isn’t what the Department of Education did, but it is precisely what OSHA did, to a collective yawn from the press, save one.

How quickly they forget, indeed.