The Bush administration is getting increasingly worried about the fallout from paying off conservative journalists to pump its policies. How do I know? At first, the White House wasn’t willing to pin blame on the Department of Education for the Armstrong Williams flap. On 1/10/04, this is the strongest thing White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was willing to say:

“[Q]uestions have been raised about that arrangement. It ought to be looked into…”

But at the press conference yesterday, President Bush threw the Department of Education under the bus:

Q: Mr. Williams made a mistake. Did the Department of Education make a mistake?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. They did.

For good measure, a not so thinly veiled shot at his good friend Rod Paige:

Q: What will happen to the people that made this decision?

THE PRESIDENT: We’ve got new leadership going to the Department of Education.