By Arthur Alpert
The Albuquerque Journal just published still another George Will column (9/11) in which he upends history, common sense and rationality to argue for the interests of the American oligarchy.
That may not be coincidence. Will’s argument may be a quid pro quo for what his benefactors paid him.
Recently, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) “overhauled its Code of Ethics to include new transparency provisions” in response to 60 Minutes’ Benghazi debacle, CNN’s failure to disclose Newt Gingrich’s political ties and “Washington Post columnist George Will’s failure to disclose his ties to conservative group Americans for Prosperity.”
That’s from Joe Strupp’s Media Matters blog dated Sept. 9. Strupp wrote:
“Kevin Smith, outgoing SPJ ethics chair, told Media Matters the revisions were done in part to address the growing problems with transparency, including news outlets failing to disclose clear conflicts of interest.”
Specifically, Smith said, Will attending a private VIP dinner hosted by the Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity after spending months using his columns to champion the candidates and ideas favored by the Koch brothers and refusing to disclose whether his participation was paid was one of the “most noted examples” of recent transparency failures.”
In a Media Matters blog post Sept. 2, Zachary Pleat and Ellie Sandmeyer cited a number of Koch-supported candidates Will praised in recent columns.
They noted Will also boosted Koch-funded organizations including the Institute for Justice and the Goldwater Institute.
And Will also offered praise for U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, who halted a criminal investigation into possible illegal coordination between the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and outside groups during a recall election. Walker has benefited from more than $10 million in spending by AFP.
In a Sept. 3 blog post, Strupp quoted Ken Auletta, media writer for “The New Yorker”, who recalled a piece he wrote in 1994 about journalists’ speaking fees in which Will declined to discuss his income from such events.
Auletta said the issue should be viewed the same as a politician who takes money from interested parties.
“One basic way to approach this logically is to say what if you are the editor of a newspaper?” Auletta said. “What if a politician, a member of the House of Representatives, went before the pharmaceutical industry and he or she is chair of or a member of the health care committee and went before the pharmaceutical industry and didn’t disclose he was paid $20,000 for that appearance and didn’t disclose that he was given campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, what would you do? You’d put it on Page One.”
Well, no, not every newspaper would, Ken.