Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Cleaver's Mistake & False Equivalencies

This is one of those instances where I want to make excuses for Cleaver. Just after the Bush Administration got caught paying three (so far) columnists to support Bush's positions, Emanuel Cleaver has admitted that he paid a reporter covering his campaign for consulting work. It is beyond dispute that the reporter should not have accepted the money, and the Cleaver campaign should not have offered it. The appearance of impropriety is glaring, and should have been avoided.

That said, it is a mistake to link the Cleaver mistake to the Bush Administration's misbehavior, and write them off as equivalent. The Bush administration paid the columnists specifically to promote their agenda. Cleaver hired the worng person to write some telephone bank scripts and to advise on African-American media.

If anybody believes that The Kansas City Call needed to be paid to strongly support Cleaver, that person must be unaware of the history of The Call, which has been supporting black involvement in the political process since 1919.

Cleaver and Eric Wesson foolishly created the appearance of an impropriety. The Bush Administration, by bribing columnists to support its positions, created an actual impropriety.


Blogger thatcoloredfella said...

The hypocrisy on the Right is approaching the biblical equivalent of a plague of locusts!

First, they claim Gannongate is a non-story, then fill up comment threads defending an alleged gay male escort and accusing the Left of 'gay-bashing'.

They're desperately manufacturing such outrage over Ward Churchill, Eason Jordan and Chris Rock to distract from the open sore that is the administration's incompetence.

Pathetic, but fun to watch.

2/16/2005 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cleaver paid a journalist. Bush paid a journalist. But this is different somehow.

Reminds of the the famous and probably apocryphal conversation between Winston Churchill and a woman at a dinner party. "We've already established what you are, now we're just haggling over the price."

2/18/2005 4:31 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous - Are you really that dense? Do you really not see a difference between hiring a journalist to write some scripts, and hiring a journalist to espouse your views?

Reminds me of the famous conversation between Churchill and Lady Astor: Lady Astor: "Mr. Churchill, you're drunk!"
Winston Churchill: "Yes, and you, Madam, are ugly. But tomorrow, I
shall be sober." In your case, I would substitute "foolish" for ugly.

2/19/2005 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I must be dense and foolish. It doesn't seem that Gannon needed persuasion to support Bush either.

The fact is, Gannongate is big news because this crosses the line. There is no defense. The same is true of what Cleaver did, its just a matter of degree. The fact that the persons taking the money were supportive of their politician's cause does not eliminate the stench.

Help me escape my foolish and dense state, o mighty wise one. Explain again why what Cleaver did is OK. Oh, yeah. You said that you think Cleaver made a mistake.

2/19/2005 10:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Foolish and dense one - this post was never even about Gannongate. I was referring to Bush's "Pay for Say" scandal, where he paid off Mike McManus, Maggie Gallagher and Armstrong Williams. True, TCF mentioned Gannongate in a riff on Republican hypocrisy, but none of the articles mentioned in my original post even mention Gannon.

And if you believe that Cleaver's mistake in hiring a reporter to write scripts is even remotely similar to Bush hiring a male prostitute and pornographer, concealing his identity and giving him access to national security secrets, then you're using a new form of logic.

2/20/2005 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I wrote about this in the Pitch last fall, I felt the same way I do now -- Cleaver's not the one who crossed a line. Reporters often go into PR work after they burn out, and some go into working for campaigns. There are plenty of candidates who would love to hire reporters to help them with their sloganeering. The ethical lapse here was committed by the reporter who, AFTER taking Cleaver's money, CONTINUED to write about him in favorable front page stories. But the really funny thing to me is how the Star now makes it look like they were on this story back when only the Pitch and Channel 5 were covering it. Why didn't the Star think it was a story then, and only spoke up about it last week after the Washington Post did a piece?

Tony O.
The Pitch

2/21/2005 9:00 AM  

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