Well, I'm back. Five years ago, I was a national correspondent for PoliticallyBlack.com.
As it turns out, I was blogging before blogging was cool. Indeed, Adam Clayton Powell III, then-vice president of technology of the late, lamented Freedom Forum, wrote, my "columns were almost unique in taking advantage of hyperlinking, embedded with links to historical primary sources."
On Inauguration Day 2001, I was in Tallahassee, Fla., covering a rally for a documentary that I wrote and produced. Although I was a first-time filmmaker, I was determined to tell the untold story of the 2000 election debacle. And I did. The documentary, "Counting on Democracy," aired on PBS stations nationwide.
This time, I don't plan to attend any counter-inaugural events -- or inaugural celebrations. Much to my surprise, I received an invitation to the Unity Gala. The invitation may have been sent by mistake, but I'd likely be shown more love than one of the event's hosts, Armstrong Williams.
Amstrong got caught with his hand in the till as a paid shill for the Department of Education.
Earlier this month, USA Today broke the story that in an effort to "build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same."
I know Armstrong. I appeared on his cheesy TV show The Right Side. And, no, I didn't receive any cheddar (read: compensation). Worse yet, he didn't even have a makeup artist available for me. I also appeared with Armstrong on America's Black Forum. Again, he got paid; I got a dub of the program.
ABF guests did not know we were being used as part of his PR hustle. It's little wonder the creators of ABF, who now publish BlackCommentator.com, wrote Armstrong "is the hardest working man in ho' business."
I know a lot of black journalists. It's laughable that anyone thought Armstrong could influence them. His credibility is such that if he walked into the offices of the National Association of Black Journalists soaking wet, they would check outside before believing it was raining.
Armstrong's mea culpa is unlikely to stop a congressional investigation. While Armstrong fancies himself a "principled voice for conservatives and Christian values in America's public debates," his ethical breach reinforces the stereotype that black conservatives are sellouts. Their guiding principle: show us the money.
Second, his flackery did not and, indeed could not, boost black support for the program. Armstrong's credibility was left behind in the wake of his embrace of Clarence Thomas and baby-daddy Strom Thurmond, and his settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former personal trainer and employee.
Since moving to Washington more than two decades ago, Armstrong has had a pretty good run as a "black conservative.But it looks like the jig is up. He should do the right thing and return the taxpayer's money.