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Bush Violated FCC Laws
by Larry S. Rolirad
January 11, 2005

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President Bush and others in his administration have violated FCC laws when they gave a million dollars to right-wing groups and individuals to promote the “No Child Left Behind” law.  The same FCC laws, which originated in the 1950s to combat the illegal practice called “payola”, should be applied to President Bush and everyone in his administration who participated in the crime.  “Payola” was a common practice in the ‘50s and ‘60s when music corporations paid disc jockeys large amounts of money to give airtime to songs they wanted to promote.  This practice was deemed by Congress to be illegal and they passed laws prohibiting “payola” through stronger FCC laws.  Since President Bush spent $240,000 of our hard earned taxpayer's money to pay to have a radio jockey, Armstrong Williams, promote Bush's law, then Bush should be indicted under the same laws in which music corporations and deejays were indicted fifty years ago.  It's called “payola” and its practice is illegal. 

You won't see any Republicans clamoring for Bush's head.  They are too busy lapping up every morsel of right-wing propaganda like ignorant vultures eating up hot, decaying roadkill.  Can anyone imagine what these right-wingers would have done if President Clinton had given a “liberal” microphone jock a whopping quarter of a million dollars to push one of his ideas?   Republicans would have been scurrying all over the airwaves like demented cockroaches denouncing President Clinton. But since it is Bush, a fellow Republican, they are mute on the subject.  The only word that best describes the entire lot of gullible and unthinking Republicans is “HYPOCRITES”.

As an independent that embraces the law of the land, I am sickened by the total lack of ethics and honesty in the entire Republican Party.  Republicans went ballistic when President Clinton received a paltry $200 haircut.  But they say nothing when Bush gives $240,000 to a right-wing radio jock Armstrong Williams to push a GOP law. 

Does anyone remember the great payola scandal that rocked the radio world fifty years ago?  Disc jockeys were paid to play specific songs to make them popular, just like Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 to parrot what Bush wants him to promote.  “Payola” is nothing more than bribery, and it is illegal.  Music corporations hired promoters to pay deejays to play songs of artists they were touting.  There is no difference between what Bush did and the illegal acts of those music corporations.  Both used money to popularize a song, an idea, or a law.

The legendary Alan Freed, the man who popularized the term “rock ‘n’ roll”, saw his career end after he admitted to accepting payola from music corporations to play specific songs.  Because of his illegal acts, Alan Freed was arrested and pled guilty to accepting payments. He was blacklisted from broadcasting and died broke and bitter in 1965.  President Bush and Armstrong Williams should be forced to experience similar fates.

As The Straight Dope notes, “Disc jockeys across America took thousands of dollars in payola in exchange for airtime. Airplay decisions were based not on whether a record was any good but on the large amounts of cash that came with it. Even if you accept the idea that it's OK for radio stations to sell spots on their play lists, keeping the public in the dark about the practice was deceptive. In 1960, as a result of congressional hearings, Congress amended the Federal Communications Act, specifically sections 317 and 507, to outlaw under-the-table payments and require broadcasters to disclose if airplay for a song has been purchased. The FCC takes this seriously; in 2000, it fined a Texas radio station $4,000 for accepting money for playing a Bryan Adams song without telling anyone (although you can understand why Bryan Adams's promoters would be driven to payola).”

It is doubtful that Armstrong Williams will “disclose” that he received money from the Bush Regime every time he mentions the “No Child Left Behind” law that Bush wants him to tout.  Williams said that he wanted to do it (promote the law) because “it's something I believe in.”  If Williams actually “believed in the law” then why did it take $240,000 for him to promote it?  Williams admitted that, “he does not recall disclosing the ($240,000) contract to audiences on the air.”  His admission to not disclose that he was financially rewarded for promoting Bush's law is reason enough to indict Armstrong Williams for violating FCC laws.  Failure to disclose that he was paid to promote the “No Child Left Behind” law is a direct violation of the Federal Communications Act.  What is worse is the $240,000 paid to Williams is only part of a one million dollar bonanza spread to several other conservative Republicans to promote the law.  Another “payola” recipient is the Republican-run Ketchum public relations firm.

What is the difference between the illegal payola of the fifties and sixties and the funneling of taxpayer's money to a right-wing radio jock Armstrong Williams to have him be an instrument of GOP propaganda?  There is no difference. Bush should be indicted under the FCC's Federal Communications Act, sections 317 and 507, and then tried and convicted.  It is clear that Bush and the GOP violated Federal Communications Act laws to promote their law. Bush's illegal act should be grounds for impeachment and removal from office.  But in order to file charges against Bush for his illegal act the chairman of the FCC, Michael Powell, a Bush appointee, would have to initiate charges.  That isn't likely since Michael Powell is just another GOP yes-man like his father, Secretary of State Colin Powell.  And even if Bush was formally charged for the crime he would certainly not be impeached since the House of Representatives is dominated by the Republican party.  And even if they were somehow forced to impeach President Bush the republican-dominated Senate would certainly spare Bush of any responsibility or accountability for his crime. 

Isn't there even one Republican who is capable of denouncing a fellow Republican?  Isn't there one Republican capable of denouncing Bush for his unethical and illegal practice?  Isn't there one Republican who sees through the wanton purchase of right-wing propaganda in the entire Republican Party?  Apparently not.  There is no difference between the “arrangement” between Bush and Armstrong, and music corporations and their paid deejays.  But as always, Republicans refuse to hold their own accountable and responsible.  Instead of thinking as Americans who speak out and act in the best interest of their country, and for all Americans, these Republican party lackeys choose to put their corrupt political party above that of their country, our government, and even the law.  While Clinton was president you couldn't find one Republican not frothing at the mouth over Clinton's lie under oath over a private and consensual act between two adults, a “white” lie that hurt no one.  Republicans whined and whined about the “rule of law.”  They went on ad nauseam about no one being above the law. They acted like rabid dogs while President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives.  No one should be above the law, but when Republicans are faced with another Republican who is unethical or breaks a law, they always resort to Reagan's Eleventh Commandment, which stated “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” 

When will Republicans stop being ignorant lapdogs to one of the most corrupt regimes in our country's history, the Bush Regime?  By condoning the criminal acts of President Bush and the GOP, by giving “payola” to one of their own right-wingers, Republicans can rightly be described as gutless, unethical hypocrites.

Larry S. Rolirad lives in Texas and has been working with third parties there to help break down the very restrictive ballot access laws that the Democrats and Republicans have passed to squash the opposition. He has written many articles, and has produced, written and edited numerous videos and films. He can be reached at:

Other Articles by Larry S. Rolirad

* A Parent's Deep Grief
* White Lies, Black Lies