Conservative Commentator Admits to Error

Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams said Friday he should have disclosed that he was paid by the Bush administration to plug the No Child Left Behind Act.

But the Marion native said he would not give back the $240,000 he was paid by the U.S. Department of Education.

USA Today reported the contract Friday, prompting a barrage of protests from Democrats, journalists and government watchdogs, who condemned Williams and the White House for co-opting the media.

“The ethical issue is a failure of disclosure,” USC journalism professor Ernest Wiggins said. “He should have been more forthcoming in telling his readers and viewers that he has been contracted to promote the White House.”

Williams conceded Friday that such criticism was “legitimate.”

“It’s a fine line. Even though I’m not a journalist — I’m a commentator — I feel I should be held to the media ethics standard. My judgment was not the best. I wouldn’t do it again, and I learned from it.”

The State: Armstrong Williams admits error

While not a crime, it is certainly an ethical grey area… make that a very dark grey area. Williams made a huge professional mistake when he did not disclose that he was being paid for his opinion, and now he’s paying the price.

Criticism Friday focused equally on the Bush administration, for hiring a firm to surreptitiously promote its views. Three Democratic U.S. senators demanded the Bush administration recover the money.

The State: Armstrong Williams admits error

It’s legal. If you have a problem with it, call your Congressman.