More fallout from hidden payment punditry, and there may be much more to come. As Brad DeLong explains, there would be no problem if all financial payments and linkages were fully disclosed. The issue is hiding who is paying for the op-eds, not that payments are made, a distinction that seems lost on those attempting to defend right-wing think tank members engaged in these practices:
Bush Presses Editors on Security, by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post: ...Bought Off? The admission by two columnists that they accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be the tip of a large and rather dirty iceberg.
Copley News Service last week dropped Doug Bandow -- who also resigned as a Cato Institute scholar -- after he acknowledged taking as much as $2,000 a pop from Abramoff for up to two dozen columns favorable to the lobbyist's clients. ... Peter Ferrara of the Institute for Policy Innovation has acknowledged taking payments years ago from a half-dozen lobbyists, including Abramoff. Two of his papers, the Washington Times and Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, have now dropped him. But Ferrara is unapologetic, saying: "There is nothing unethical about taking money from someone and writing an article."
Readers might disagree on grounds that they have no way of knowing about such undisclosed payments, which seem to be an increasingly common tactic for companies trying to influence public debate... When he was a Washington lawyer several years ago, says law professor Glenn Reynolds, a telecommunications carrier offered him a fat paycheck -- up to $20,000, he believes -- to write an opinion piece favorable to its position. He declined. In the case of Bandow's columns, says Reynolds, who now writes the InstaPundit blog, "one argument is, it's probably something he thought anyway, but it doesn't pass the smell test to me. I wouldn't necessarily call it criminal, but it seems wrong. People want to craft a rule, but what you really need is a sense of shame."
Jonathan Adler, an associate law professor and National Review contributor, wrote that when he worked at a think tank, "I was offered cash payments to write op-eds on particular topics by PR firms, lobbyists or corporations several times. They offered $1,000 or more for an op-ed," offers that Adler rejected. Blogger Rand Simberg writes that "I've also declined offers of money to write specific pieces, even though I agreed with the sentiment."...