Time to change priorities: having a way with words
I don’t pretend to be a good writer, because I don’t think I am. I can tell stories sometimes when I am engaged in the subject. I enjoy writing about things I like, and I don’t like writing about things I don’t.
I was a PR hack at one point in my life and my job was to make people and organizations appear in a good light. During the first meeting with clients I told them: Making news is the product of timely deeds and accomplishments.
If you do something worthwhile, we can work with that. If not, don’t expect miracles.
The head of the agency operated with the philosophy: “If they haven’t done anything worthwhile, tell them to do something controversial.” His idea was that it didn’t have to be something bad, as much as it needed to be something different and out of character.
I have been writing about politics because I believe that Americans can make better choices if they think about it. Yet, you know what, I don’t like writing about it, because it is combative and offensive which I don’t like.
I don’t like religion because I gave it up. I don’t expect other people to do what I do. I don’t care what they do, except when they try to ram what they do down my throat and with that I will resist, tooth and nail.
Here is a story about Jack Abramoff paying columnists to make clients look good. That makes me sick.
I am going write about writing for awhile and stick with my painting as that is going well.
I just finished documenting how to select people for elected office, and most people don’t care about that, so I won’t either.
“EXCLUSIVE: Abramoff Regrets Paying Writers For "Placed" Columns
December 08, 2011 7:34 am ET by Joe Strupp
Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff expressed regret for paying columnists on multiple occasions to write articles favorable to his clients.
During a recent interview with Media Matters while promoting his new book, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist (WND Books 2011), Abramoff said in the past he would find columnists who agreed with his positions and pay them to "place" articles in newspapers.
"Normally what that means in a lobbying context is that you have a friendly writer who is somebody that the major papers are willing to publish and you get them to focus on your issue and write a piece about it," Abramoff said in a phone interview, later adding, "It just happened when it had to happen. When it did, we would find somebody who agreed with us, a writer, and we'd usually pay them to do it, but they would be in charge of getting it placed. And that probably still goes on. I can't imagine it doesn't go on."
Abramoff said he paid for columns on maybe a half-dozen occasions in several major newspapers. He also said the newspapers themselves were likely unaware of the financial arrangement.
He said the media "was a tool in lobbying, and that's the way lobbyists view the media. That you try as best you can to keep them out of your hair, use them where you can to spin your issue, and otherwise keep them at a distance."
Abramoff also stressed that the writers paid to push his agenda were always columnists or op-ed writers, never reporters:
"I'd find a writer who was sympathetic to the issue, I wouldn't approach a writer who disagreed with me or was neutral. I'd find somebody who was passionate about this and we'd try to get them focused on it, get them some money if they needed money or they wanted to be paid for it," Abramoff explained. "A lot of these writers write for pay, they write columns and get paid by their papers. ... So we would pay them, and their job would be to get the article placed. Rather simple. It didn't always work, by the way. They weren't always able to get them placed. But generally they could."
Asked if he ever tried to pay a news reporter to write something sympathetic, he said, "Nah. Most of the time we stayed away from reporters. Lobbyists don't like to hang out with reporters, at least lobbyists who are prudent."
Abramoff confirmed two specific monetary relationships involving writers Doug Bandow and Peter Ferrara, who were quoted in a 2005 BusinessWeek story as having been paid by Abramoff.
BusinessWeek reported at the time that Bandow, then a Copley syndicated columnist, said he had been paid to write between 12 and 24 columns favorable to Abramoff clients. Ferrara, a freelancer, said that in the past, he had received "general support" from Abramoff.
"They were paid on articles and issues that they agreed with," Abramoff told Media Matters, confirming the incidents for the first time.
The BusinessWeek article at the time stated:
A review of Bandow's columns and other written work shows that he wrote favorably about Abramoff's Indian tribal clients -- as well as another Abramoff client, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands -- as far back as 1997. One column, syndicated by the Copley News Service, saluted one Abramoff client tribe, the Mississippi Choctaws, for their entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, and commitment to free enterprise. "The Choctaws offer a model for other tribes," Bandow wrote.”