Armstrong Williams Fallout

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I said before that Armstrong Williams made a mistake. I was sort of issuing a challenge to anyone who might argue that he really did something worse than make a mistake. As I've looked at other sites, including liberals, moderates, black anti-black racists, black conservatives, etc., I've found a fairly univocal response. See The Moderate Voice for an excellent roundup following a fairly standard version of what's being said by most people. Everyone seems to be ignoring the facts, taking Williams to have done something he didn't do, taking the Bush Administration to have done something they didn't do, and exaggerating or even outright inventing nonsense to make him out to have the bad motives black conservatives are often accused of having. As I've looked more into this and continued to read what people across the map are saying, I've become less convinced that what Williams did was was even that wrong to begin with. I said it was a mistake because he did. I insisted that it was less of a problem than people were saying, but I did think it was a mistake. Then I looked at the facts. Now I'm not sure sure there was anywhere near as much of a real problem as I had first thought.

Here's what Amstrong Williams did. He accepted money from Ketchum, an independent PR firm, to do two things. One was to run an advertisement they had created to promote No Child Left Behind. The other was to talk about his views on NCLB and encourage other black conservatives to do so, something he already would have done, though perhaps this encouraged him to do it more. I see no problem with the first. A PR firm can buy as many ads as they want, and he is not unethical to accept their money for it. The second is at most a gray area. He's a pundit with a view. They included with their ad money a request to talk more about it and ask others to do so. I don't see how that's corruption of the sort people keep pretending this is. It's just a request to get him to talk more about something he already feels very strongly about and to request that others who also feel strongly about it would talk about it too. If someone paid me money to talk more about abortion on my blog, I'd accept it. It's fairly common in the media, in fact. NPR does that sort of thing all the time. Their donors stipulate coverage of certain issues. The only worry here is whether he should have said someone was paying him money to talk more about that issue. He probably should have, but I don't see that as a major ethical problem. Being a little more honest would show more character, but this isn't corruption of the more serious kind that people are accusing him of.

Now I haven't said anything about the role of the government in this. That's because he didn't know about that until he saw the headlines. I don't think he can be blamed for not knowing that Ketchum had been hired by the Department of Education (which is not to be identified with the Bush Administration, as some headlines have mistakenly done, though it is a branch of the Bush Administration, mainly because saying it was the Bush Administration gives the implicature that the Bush Administration as a whole was behind it rather than some small group within one department, as is most likely). There's little more to say about that.

The one other factor that's worth looking into is whether there was wrongdoing from the governmental end of things. Most people who have attributed less wrongdoing to Williams have insisted that Bush is at fault here. Even ignoring what I just said about those misleading claims of Bush's involvement, I'm not so sure that the Education Department officials who initiated this were wrong to do so. This is a longstanding government tradition. When Reagan was president, the government hired PR firms to run ads in favor of their drug policies, which were certainly popular among many people but not without controversy. Bush's father and Clinton did the same sort of thing. Perhaps it goes significantly before Reagan even. I have no idea. I do know that it's a fairly normal practice. That the Department of Education would hire a PR firm to run ads promoting the No Child Left Behind program is pretty much in the same vein.

So across the board we've got people saying false things and assigning moral wrondoing that goes well beyond what actually happened. None of it is in accord with the facts. Saying that the White House or the Bush Administration paid him to argue its case is misleading in two ways. Most people reading that statement will assume it was a direct payment, and he knew the source, which is false. Most people would also assume that he wouldn't have already made the case for that program, which is false. That means that those saying that are making misleading statements. Calling it a bribe is equally misleading (and probably just false).

Now I shouldn't have to say this, but far worse than anyone I've complained about so far are those racists (whether white, black, or whatever) who have been using this as a means to promote their hateful agenda that black conservatives are sellouts and mere tools of the Republican leadership to spout off views they don't agree with. I won't link to this, but there's a link to an example here. They use racist stereotypes from the Civil War period when making these claims. They paint with a broad brush every black conservative when the charges they're issuing may not be true of any black conservative and certainly isn't true of most of them. They aren't even true of Armstrong Williams, whom they're now using to criticize all black conservatives.

La Shawn Barber and others have been complaining that Williams has now opened the door to this sort of thing by giving them something like what they say that actually has a basis in fact. I think I've said enough in this post to show that that's not true, and anyone who says what they're saying is engaging in one of the lowest forms of evil known to humanity, the deliberate false testimony against someone to defame their character. I place it so low on the list not because its consequences are the worst (compared to, say, the Holocaust or American slavery) but because the motivations are among the lowest possible. It's one thing just to be indifferent to someone and want to use them as a means to an end. It's quite another to desire that they have bad things happen to them for its own sake, and that's what this requires. I understand that something behind what La Shawn is saying is true. She's right that this incident has given these racists a new thing to talk about to promote their evil. She's wrong that he handed them something that legitimately allows them to do so. They are immoral in using it that way, and that immorality is far worse than anything Williams did even if the charges against him that I've been disputing are completely accurate.

See also Classical Values for a very different approach saying much the same thing. Full disclosure: Classical Values and Parableman link to each other.

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The Carnival of the Vanities #121 from Multiple Mentality | www.multiplementality.com on January 12, 2005 9:02 AM

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Jeremy Pierce of Parableman is defending Armstrong Williams:

Here's what Amstrong Williams did. He accepted money from Ketchum, an independent PR firm, to do two th...
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10 Comments

Jeremy,

My blog post was also one that Joe at The Moderate Voice quoted from, and as one of those evil Liberal Black Bloggers, my indictment of Williams (and Miss Barber) was just as harsh as Steve Gilliards'. I'd be interested to get your views on it:

thatcoloredfellasweblog.bloghorn.com/346 (The Burden Of Blackness) [edited to remove direct link] but, two points on this entry.

You cast Mr. Williams as a mere 'pundit', I suspect to rationalize his acceptance of the Bush administration's money. Mr. Williams is first and foremost a journalist, as his bio on Townhall.com details the many publications his column has appeared in, first. Plus, being (formally) syndicated by Tribune Media Services, makes him directly accountable to the standards of journalistic integrity.

Second, your explanations so far as to why exactly Blacks like me are 'racist' or 'anti-Black racist', are weak and unsubstantiated. You make charges of 'exaggerated or even invented nonsense', but supply no examples of such.

I ask for the very same evidence from Jonah Goldberg, in a recent exchange of emails. All of which, will be included in an upcoming blog post, Racism For Dummies.

I've never seen Williams in any role other than as an opionion guy. In apology, he states that he's an opinion columnist and a small business owner because he owns his TV show. So he's in the same position as Bill O'Reilly. If someone paid O'Reilly or Fox to run an ad on O'Reilly's show, and O'Reilly happened to agree with the content of the ad, somehow that makes it wrong for him to talk about his views during the times when that ad is not running (and he's on his own time and not that of the advertizer)? That's just insane. The Classical Values post I linked to does a good job dissecting that response.

If there's somewhere else where you can point me to that shows that he's indisputably a journalist and occupies some role where he's not an opinion guy, let me know. Town Hall didn't have a link to it on the page for him or their main page. I'm not sure why it's relevant anyway, because journalists double as opinion people all the time. Many anchors at all the major news outlets venture off into opinion territory, whether admitting it or not. Some do it officially, though, and I'm not sure why that's a problem. The trick is to keep those roles separate. If that's not a problem, then I'm not sure why there's an ethical issue (beyond the disclosure thing that I admitted is questionable) with merely accepting money to run an ad on your show and then also giving your opinion on what the ad talks about. You get paid to give their version. You do yours for free. I see nothing wrong with that in principle.

I'm delinking your post as a direct link. The URL is still there is someone wants to copy it and paste it. I don't find most of what you say there objectionable, but you do call La Shawn and others some terms that I don't feel comfortable having a direct link on my blog to.

Let me explain again what the issue is. This has nothing to do with being substantiated, which would be a difference of evidence and facts. This is a philosophical statement I'm making. It's morally wrong to use any language about someone that makes them a moral inferior or a moral subordinate. The N-word does that to a black person, whether the person using it is white, black, or some other race. It has this history of doing that, and it hasn't lost that edge. It's not like calling someone a liar, because they can just dispute that. They can show that what they said was true, or they didn't know it was false. Then they're not a liar. In this case, though, the very category involves moral subordination to whites, something not true of black people at all. It says to a black person, "You're not as good as me -- you're just one of those people". There have been times of physical subordination, and some would argue that there still are to a lesser degree. That doesn't make blacks the moral inferiors of whites. Using the N-word in any context indicates that kind of moral subordination, and that's why I think it's immoral to use it of anyone. I do want to distinguish between using it and mentioning it. You can talk about the word without using it against someone. I won't do that, mostly to avoid the appearance of evil, but I don't think it's morally wrong to mention it.

Then we come to the House Negro (or the worse variant you used). I argue that that's the same sort of thing. It's a term of derision. It's a term of diminishing someone's moral status as "not as good as the rest of us". It has a history of doing so during the time of slavery. It's not just making a claim that someone is doing something immoral. It takes a whole class of people and says that, because you're in that class, you must be immoral without regard for the particulars of the case. Even worse, it relies on a stereotype that a black person couldn't be in such a situation without having somehow being less of a person, less of an autonomous, free person than even an ordinary slave. This is the House Negro.

Finally, and I would think this is the most invisible but perhaps most harmful aspect, it puts a halt to black freedom and progress in this country. The first aspects of what I've discussed are about an attitude toward a person, one of moral subordination, not just finding someone's behavior immoral but basing their very identity in a concept that makes them less important morally. That was how the plantation slave viewed the House Negro, someone who was not really "one of us". Why did they view them this way? Well, they didn't have it as bad. Why didn't they have it as bad? Well, the white people who oversaw them didn't treat them as badly. They've had a chance to succeed more as individuals, to have their preferences recognized, to have their wishes respected, to be treated more like human beings. If that's not "one of us", then it's giving in to the stereotype that black people are perpetually slaves of the worst degree.

I think the same thing goes on with this sort of thing. If Colin Powell (or Condi Rice, or Clarence Thomas, or Armstrong Williams) isn't really black or isn't very black, it's because he succeeded in mainstream culture outside the separatist mentality that unconsciously operates among many black people. He's been able to achieve something that seems "not black" to too many people, so they push him off as someone who isn't really "one of them". It's not mere success, because O.J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, Chris Rock, and Al Sharpton are successful. It's that a certain realm of success is view as not black. I'm not entirely sure of the extent of that realm, but it includes being conservative without respect to any other factors, and it seems to me (at least for some people) to include certain lines of work or certain hobbies. A former student of mine (who is black) was told by her elementary school student (who was also black) that she wasn't black because she likes to ski and go hiking. Another former student of mine (who is black) was told by a black peer that she's doing white things when she engages in her chosen activities -- ice skating and swimming. As black people become more able to achieve and more able to have access to things they'd previously not been able to do, this is a natural result. Black people will ice skate and ski, learn Russian history for its own sake and serve in government positions. This is normal for a progressing group. Any resistance to it is resistance to progress and becoming more part of the mainstream (I say more part because black culture is already well-entrenched in the mainstream.) Since that's harmful to black people, and it's a structural element in how some elements within black culture respond to progress, I see it as institutional racism. It's a structural force in society that in most people operates unconsciously and not deliberately, and it's harmful to black people. That's what it takes for something to be institutional racism.

Now when it comes to conservatives, there's an additional factor. Many people seem to think that there's no way any self-respecting black would hold conservative positions because such views are so obviously harmful to blacks. Well, I've just explained how one view that is harmful to blacks can be held in a way that a self-respecting black can hold it, so being negative against a group doesn't require that those who hold the view see it that way. So the least you could do is recognize that black conservatives genuinely believe the things they say they believe. Enough people have said the sort of thing they're saying, and given arguments for it, that it should be surprising even to people who don't agree that all of it is a facade that no one really believes. I just don't know how you could think such a thing.

I have myself argued that more conservative social and economic views would be more beneficial not just to race relations in this country (how people of different racial groups get along) but to the overall economic and social status of black people. This is something I've become convinced of. I didn't always think this way. I didn't always have any views on it. As I read about it and thought about it, the arguments for some of the more conservative views seemed to stand out in my mind as better than the arguments against those views. For instance, I think that affirmative action has achieved some real good and is not wrong in principle. I think it could still achieve some good. However, I think it also leads to real harm, and I'm not talking mainly about harm to white people. I think it's harmful to the people it's supposed to help. I think we've reached a point where the good that's being done is less noticeable and not as strong as when affirmative action was first instituted, which means the harmfulness is stronger in comparison. For that reason, I oppose the lowering of standards to the point it is often done (200-300 points on the SAT, a whole grade point average). I think that's an immoral practice due to preventing people who haven't achieved as much from getting an education that could help them as much. If you put someone in an environement they're not prepared for, and they don't last there, how does that help them?

Now you many not agree with that. Many people don't. The least you could do, though, is admit that I have arrived at my views through reasoning and really do believe them. If you approach everyone who has a view that you think is harmful as if they don't really believe it, then you're insulting them and calling them liars. I think that's what those who call La Shawn a tool or a token are doing. If somehow agreeing with the Republican Party on some issues makes someone a tool, then so does agreeing with the Democratic Party on some issues.

There's no question that she's disagreed with the Republican Party numerous times, and I've actually disagreed with her for doing it, but it shows she is thinking independently. She's opposed Bush on immigration to the point of saying she had almost decided not to vote for him. If that's how she's a Republican tool, then I don't know what you mean by calling her a tool. She's apparently not a very effective one. She's also repeatedly criticized the Republican leadership, including both the Bush Administration and the leaders of the Congress, for spending way too much in violation of conservative principles. She seems to me to be a genuine conservative with what seem to me to be too extreme economic libertarian principles behind it. Since that puts her at odds with so many of the people running the Republican machine, it's just out of touch with the facts to call her their puppet, even aside from the other issues.

Jeremy,

Your parsing and splitting of hairs when it comes to labeling Williams a 'journalist', is a classic right wing debate tactic, and usually where I cease respecting your opinion. If the Tribune Media Service considered him a mere opinion maker and not subject to journalistic ethics, they never would've canned his ass!

Also, playing the 'hating Blacks for their Conservatism' card, is bogus. I am a Moderate/Centrist Democrat, who happens to admire many core Conservative principles: fiscal responsibility, personal freedoms/privacy, and smaller government. And, here's where I got no response from Jonah Goldberg, debating the same topic.

The outrage that triggers the use of such derogatory terms you find objectionable, stems from seeing Blacks align themselves with their oppressor. Seeing Williams shilling for the Republican Party that orchestrated voter suppression tactics against Black voters in Ohio and Florida. The same party that ran an avowed segregationist for Congress in Tennessee, defends the Confederate Flag, and who's Mississippi Governor appears on the website of a White Separatist group, shaking hands with it's leader.

I would never use such labels to describe someone I merely disagree with, but for respectfully disagreeing with Miss Barber (no foul language, no name calling), I was banned from her blog.

It is becoming clear, that I might not convince people like you of my argument, without resorting to declaring 'you'd have to be Black, to understand'. My father was born in the segregated South in 1914, and would never talk about growing up in such a dark period of hatred and institutionalized prejudice. He just made sure his children would not live such an existence. I owe him that much to see that it never happens again.

There really is a difference between someone who gets paid to offer an opinion and an analysis and someone who merely claims to report the news. There's no way the latter can be completely unbiased, but that doesn't invalidate the distinction. Calling the distinction a right-wing debate tactic similarly doesn't invalidate the distinction. The job description is entirely different. If you're going to cease to respect someone's opinion over their affirmation of a distinction you don't recognize, that says more about you than it does about me.

Replace 'conservative' with 'Republican' in my explanation and then hit reset. The argument goes against seeing all black Republicans as sellouts in all the ways it goes against seeing all black conservatives as sellouts.

I have seen no proof (or even halfway decent evidence) that the Republican Party orchestrated voter suppression anywhere. The facts speak for themselves. More black voters voted in 2004 than in 2000, including in the areas where people are claiming voter suppression. A good deal more black voters voted for Bush in 2004 than in 2000 in Ohio. The people who made the decisions about how many voting machines were in what areas were on a bi-partisan committee, and the setup at any location that votes highly Democrat was almost assuredly run by the Democrats the people of that district elected.

What happened with the segregationist who ran for Congress from Tennessee shows how anti-racist the Republican party is. They went all-out to get someone else elected through a write-in campaign when it became clear to them that this guy was running unopposed for the nomination but too late to get someone else on the ballot. The fact that this is the only occurrence of this sort of thing since the late 80s shows that the segregationist have simply left the Republican Party. Most of the ones who haven't died off are now in the Constitution Party.

I don't know of any Republican Party stance on the confederate flag other than the consequences of favoring free speech, which is not a race issue. Show me a statement in the party platform that specifically defends the confederate flag. Defending free speech when it involves a flag does not amount to defending what the flag stands for. There's a real debate over what the flag stands for anyway. What some people mean by it is a north-south thing and a libertarian spirit thing and not at all about slavery or segregation.

I have argued in the past that the Republican Party is a mixed bag but no more than the Democratic Party. There is racism in the Dems too, as high as the Senate Minority Leader's shameful and uninformed criticism of Justice Thomas as a puppet of Justice Scalia, which ignores the genuinely idiosyncratic tendencies of Thomas, his background in the 200 years of black conservatism this country has had, and his succinct but clearly-written legal opinions. The same sort of thing went on with Justices Marshall and Brennan, and the same kind of language appears for Justice Thomas. (I'm now working through a series on him, by the way. You might want to check it out if you really believe the liberal orthodoxy's myths about him.)

My wife is black, dude, and she doesn't understand. Being black doesn't help someone understand, apparently. She thinks you're a racist (I have tried to take the more moderate view that you are a perpetuator of institutional racism), and she thinks your language is an insult to every black person and not just conservatives. I had two black students in my class this semester, and when these issues came up one of them, probably lower middle class, kept saying things like "John McWhorter just doesn't understand. He doesn't know what it's like to be poor and black. Tupac promoted good things, not violence." The other one was a former drug dealer who grew up on the streets. He thought McWhorter was onto something and that this kind of language really is harmful to black people.

You weren't banned from her blog, by the way. I saw your comment on her blog complaining that you'd been banned. It was right after the comment she posted after deleting one of your comments. How did the comment I read appear there if she'd banned you? She deleted a comment. She didn't ban you. There's a big difference.

She moderates comments. She won't allow any through that she finds offensive. I delete comments myself if I find them thoroughly offensive, and I ban trolls. If only part of a message is truly offensive but the rest raises real points, I'll edit the offensive part out. Sometimes I even allow it. I have lower standards than she does. Now I don't know what was in your comment. I do know that foul language and name-calling are not the only offensive things that could justify deleting a post. Her blog is less a discussion forum than mine, though, because she doesn't want to take the time to engage with the same old arguments day in and day out. She has too many readers and commenters for that. Perhaps that was behind the deletion. I don't know. I wouldn't do that myself, but it's no reason to call her a liar or to say she banned you when she didn't.

I'm quite confident that La Shawn, Armstrong Williams, Clarence Thomas, and every other black Republican does not want the hatred and institutionalized prejudice that your father lived to come back again. The chance of its coming back in the lifetime of anyone alive today is extremely slim, though. After over 30 years since the biggest civil rights legislation, mainstream culture is such that the average person just assumes all the things that it took real argument to get people even to concede to back then. Interracial marriage is common now, and interracial relationships are even more common. I see this all the time among the generation of college students. It also seems to me that it's even a little more common among conservatives, among Republicans, and among evangelicals of this generation. Do you think all that cultural change is just going to reverse itself overnight?

And how does crying wolf that the Republican Party is keeping the black man down count as seeing that it never happens again? It just makes people not want to listen to you because they'll see you the way they see people who think Bush planned 9-11.

Here's what Amstrong Williams did. He accepted money from Ketchum, an independent PR firm, to do two things. One was to run an advertisement they had created to promote No Child Left Behind. The other was to talk about his views on NCLB and encourage other black conservatives to do so, something he already would have done, though perhaps this encouraged him to do it more. I see no problem with the first. A PR firm can buy as many ads as they want, and he is not unethical to accept their money for it. The second is at most a gray area. He's a pundit with a view. They included with their ad money a request to talk more about it and ask others to do so. I don't see how that's corruption of the sort people keep pretending this is.

Well, right there is enough to constitute a major violation of journalistic ethics -- so long as "to talk about his view on NCLB" included doing so on his show. TCF is right that Williams is subject to journalistic ethics. In fact, he is a journalist -- or was at least presenting himself as such. "Opinion guy" and "journalist" are not contraries; the former can be one type of the latter. But the real issue is the ethical, not the semantical one, and on the real issue, it's clear that opinion guys, every bit as much as reporters, have to disclose it when they take large sums of money for such purposes. The problem is he took money -- a lot of money -- to advance his pro-NCLB views on his show, without disclosing that he was doing so. (There wouldn't have been this problem if he had clearly announced that he was taking money to discuss the matter. But those who ran his show might then have had a problem with that, and listeners probably wouldn't have given as much credence to his opinions.) Everyone I've read, conservative or liberal, who seems to know anything about journalistic ethics seems to consider just that a major ethical lapse in itself, which is no surprise to me, since and it would seem to my untrained thinking to be just that. Why think otherwise? You may call it a "mistake", so long as you realize it's a pretty major one. You mention several times that he believed in NCLB, and probably would have discussed it anyway (though perhaps not quite as much). That really doesn't seem to matter -- any more than it would matter to the case of a professor who unethically accepted money to give a student an A that the student was very good & the professor thought so anyway, and so probably would have given her a good grade anyway (though perhaps not a straight A).

It's good that Williams admitted a mistake. But talk is cheap and it's absolutely clear to everyone the way to recify the mistake in this case: Give back the money. That he refuses to do.

My point isn't that he didn't do anything wrong. The lack of disclosure was clearly against the norms of the field (though I've tried to question whether this is as bad as those norms take it to bel, and I think the Classical Values post I linked to does a better job on that that I did). My point is that the lack of disclosure seems to be the only notable thing he did wrong with respect to this.

There are two groups of people I'm responding to:

1. Those who are claiming he did things that he did not do (or at least there's no clear reason to think he did them).
2. Those who are claiming that mere acceptance of the money would be enough to damn him.

I don't think he should return the money, because I don't think he shouldn't have accepted it, and it was payment for services that he did render. If there's anything he should return, it would the money those syndicating his show and other advertizers paid that they wouldn't have paid if they knew he was doing this. I'm not sure how that would work, but that seems to be the money that's now questionable, given your argument that he might not have received it if he'd done the accepted thing and reported this from the outset.

Well, it certainly is nice to see that I'm not the only blogger defending Armstrong Williams. It seems to me that the over-reaction was based largely on people who aren't in advertising and who aren't entrepreneurs misunderstanding what happens when an entrepreneur sells advertising. He isns't selling his soul, he's wholesaleing the attention of people who watch or listen to his program, ore read his column or visit his website.

Thanks for caring.

BTW, iF you want to read more, click on my name below. The URL is set to take you directly to the post on Armstrong Williams -- essentially a longer and more thoughtful version of the note above.

Thanks for bringing your post to my attention. One thing you said that I didn't notice:

Now, USA Today reports that Armstrong�s contract called for him to use contacts with
America's Black Forum, a group of black broadcast journalists, 'to encourage the producers
to periodically address' NCLB."

Note that language � �Address� the issue. Not advocate for or against. Again, editorial
independence is not at stake here. Armstrong had a previous position. He was being paid to
encourage others to talk about this issue, and they, in turn were free to either discuss the
issue or not, and to take whatever positions they felt appropriate.

This opinion is clearly coming from someone who has never been a member of the media and understood that there is a bright line that divides advertising from journalism, including opinion journalism. You are right in asserting that Williams's only transgression was not divulging the arrangement, but wrong in your assessment of the gravity of this mistake.

Your argument, fundamentally, is that the arrangement wasn't so bad because Williams was going to say what he was saying, supporting administration policies, no matter whether he was paid to do that or not. This is, of course, true. The only problem with it, however, is the following scenario: Let's say Williams discovers something about No Child Left Behind that he didn't see before and that he doesn't like. He now has a dilemma--does he say something negative about NCLB and risk losing thousands of dollars from Ketchum and access to high-ranking education officials for interviews and so on, or does he keep his mouth shut? Probably the latter. This is where the public's trust is violated, and this is, ultimately, the kind of scenario under which the appearance of a conflict of interest exists. It is a problem people like him are very familiar with, and what he did was a major no-no, as he admitted.

Williams would have been in the clear if he divulged his relationship with the federal government. But it is easy to see why he didn't. If he had told his listeners, readers and viewers that he was being paid six figures by the government to promote NCLB, his audience would lose at least some trust in the independence of his opinions.

Harvey, I think that's the first genuinely moral argument I've seen so far that has some force for me. I'm not sure it has the force for me that it does for you, but it's something. My point here was never really that he didn't violate the conventions of his field or that he didn't violate the law. I don't know the conventions of his field or the law. My point was about whether the action in itself is immoral, and therefore I was questioning whether the law or conventions of his field are good ones if they do indeed not allow this sort of thing. Your argument counts somewhat against that. There are ways to deal with this issue, though, at least in principle, but ideally such ways would have something worked into the contract about what should happen if he were to become unable to continue promoting it, and I doubt that happened here.

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