Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

More Op-Ed Paylola: This time it's biotech giant Monsanto, which paid Hudson Institute senior fellow Michael Fumento $60,000 in 1999 -- a payment that went undisclosed when Fumento wrote a column promising that new products from Monsanto that will " help us all by keeping prices down and allowing more crops to be grown on less land."

Scripps Howard News Service has severed its relationship with Fumento, just as Copley News Service dropped Douglas Bandow after it was revealed that he accepted money from Jack Abramoff for writing columns favorable to the disgraced lobbysist's clients.

Fumento says he's "just extremely pro-biotech," which is a perfectly good explanation of why he wrote the column, but not of why he failed to disclose his financial relationship with the company. For the record, I don't believe Fumento wrote the column because he received a payment from Monsanto; I believe he received the payment because he held the kind of views he expressed in the column. That's not direct corruption, but it does create an insidious environment in which columnists know they will be nicely rewarded for pro-business editorializing.

At the very least, the public has a right to know how much money is changing hands and thus to decide for themselves whether that taints the objectivity and credibility of the opinions they are reading.

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