Friday, December 16, 2005

PENS FOR HIRE TNR's The Plank spots a truly amazing story in Business Week: A piece describing Jack Abramoff's practice of paying writers to pen Op-Ed pieces favorable to his clients.

We've learned enough about Abramoff, by now, not to be surprised by that sort of behavior. What is shocking, though, are the quotes BusinessWeek gets from a pair of think tank conservatives:

Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation, says he, too, took money from Abramoff to write op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist's clients. "I do that all the time," Ferrara says. "I've done that in the past, and I'll do it in the future."

Ferrara...says he doesn't see a conflict of interest in taking undisclosed money to write op-ed pieces because his columns never violated his ideological principles.

"It's a matter of general support," Ferrara says. "These are my views, and if you want to support them, then that's good."


"If somebody pinned me down and said, 'Do you think this is wrong or unethical?' I'd say no," says Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation. Giovanetti says critics are applying a "naive purity standard" to the op-ed business. "I have a sense that there are a lot of people at think tanks who have similar arrangements."
Ferrara may continue to write paid pieces in the future. But I doubt he'll get anyone--outside of The Washington Times, maybe--to publish them.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.