Sunday, January 16, 2005

Roger Roger's Readers Get Results

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 - The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it would investigate whether Armstrong Williams broke the law by failing to disclose a $240,000 payment in exchange for promoting the Bush administration's central education bill on his syndicated television show.

Michael K. Powell, the agency's chairman, ordered the investigation as F.C.C. commissioners reported thousands of complaints about Mr. Williams, and as two Democratic senators called for a broader investigation into accusations that the administration was using illegal propaganda to advance its agenda.

Uh, that's peachy keen, Mikey, but Armstrong didn't pull the 240K out of his ass. You should be investigating Rod Paige, the payor.

Jonathan Adelstein, one of the agency's Democratic commissioners, said the agency had received 12,000 complaints.

A dozen, twelve thousand, who's counting?

Agency officials said the offense could cost Mr. Williams and, potentially, the local broadcasters who ran his show up to $11,000 in fines. Under agency regulations, individual broadcasters are required to disclose any payments from outside entities in exchange for promoting items on-air; local stations are also expected to disclose those payments if they are aware of them.

What did Sinclair Broadcasting know, and when did it know it?

That 11K fine must be a joke, right? If the Administration can pay Williams 240K to violate the law, and he can skate with an 11K fine, he's got no incentive not to violate the law? It should be 11K per station.

On Thursday, Mr. Paige instructed the Education Department to conduct an internal inquiry to see whether it did anything improper by arranging a more than $1 million contract with the Ketchum public relations firm, which in turn reached an agreement with Mr. Williams.

The suspense is killing me.

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