Ben Smith wonders how paid speaking gigs change politics:
Buried in its profile of Ann Coulter, the Times reports that she makes 90% of her income on paid speeches, and recently charged $25,000 to speak at the Wake County Republican Women’s Club in Raleigh.
Those hefty figures are a glimpse at what is, in some ways, the real economy of politics. Most of the people you see talking on television or quoted in stories -- who aren't in elected office -- make substantial parts of their livings giving speeches to private groups. Paid speaking, cleaner than lobbying, easier than the practice of law, cleaner than hitting up pension funds, well, safer than graft, has become the primary source of income for a broad range of political figures, beginning with Bill Clinton, who reported $7.5 million from paid speech in 2009.
Twenty years ago, Jake Weisberg outed the journalists who were following the corporate money on the speaking circuit as "buck-rakers." Now the journalists are upped by performance artists like Coulter. Cable news is where they pimp themselves. The actual whoring takes place elsewhere. Follow up here.
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