Another Commentator In Trouble
I wasn't happy to see Doug Bandow, of the Cato Institute, outed and resigning (under pressure, I assume) for receiving undisclosed payments from people who's clients he wrote favorable commentaries about. That's the latest one I've heard about, the last being Walter Williams(?) who was paid by the feds to write or comment favorably on certain fed policies, the specifics of which escape me.
That said, while I find it at least a bit disturbing that a writer I respect is found to be in the payroll of someone he comments favorably on, is there really a problem with getting paid for writing? Heck, I wish someone would pay me for all my hard hitting commentaries. Of course, then I'd probably have to worry about deadlines and all and it wouldn't be as fun. I could use the money, though.
But, seems to me, if someone writes something that they actually believe, what's wrong with getting paid for it? I know it certainly has the look of impropriety but, if he or she really believes in what they're writing should we really care about the money? It would be one thing if someone altered the facts to deliberately fool people but if the facts are as a writer believes them to be, what's the big deal?
I suppose it's natural for most folks, myself included, to want disclosure but might I suggest we should be debating the facts of the commentary in question as opposed to whether the writer was paid for the comments? I can't help but admire the other guy mentioned in that Business Week article, Peter Ferrara. He says he's been paid to write commentaries on people he wrote favorably about before and he'd do it again as long as he believes in what he's writing. You don't see much of that non PC candor around anymore.