What is the right single word for an intellectual (often a journalist) who is not a member of a political party, but justifies the party's causes to the general public and secretly takes benefit from them in return?

  • 1
    Related: There's the word lobbyist, referring to those who "attempt to influence legislators on behalf of a particular interest." However, a lobbyist isn't generally a journalist, and not all of them take secret benefits, either.
    – J.R.
    Mar 3, 2013 at 0:04

4 Answers 4


A shill is a tout or promoter, with the connotation of figure who endorses a product or service— or candidate or party— on a supposedly independent basis, when in fact he or she is in the service of the person or organization benefiting from the endorsement.

  • +1. I think this is the only answer so far which captures the dishonest aspect requested by the OP. "secretly takes benefit". Mar 3, 2013 at 6:52

A related phrase is fellow traveller,“One who sympathizes with the aims or beliefs of an organization, without belonging to it; most often applied to a Communist sympathizer”. Technically, the phrase applies fairly well in the current context, except that people are unlikely to automatically suppose a fellow traveller is an intellectual or a journalist or secretly receives benefits.

Depending on context, also consider nouns collaborator and quisling, and phrase tame journalist.

  • 1
    So why note use sympathiser
    – The Frog
    Mar 2, 2013 at 23:50

partisan (noun) an adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, especially a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance. (Dictionary.com)


Two words not previously suggested are hack and hireling. According to R. L. Chapman and B.A. Kipfer, Dictionary of American Slang, Third Edition (1995):

hack 8 n (also ) by 1810 A professional, usu freelance, writer who works to order[.] This sense belongs to hack [definition 1, meaning "A taxicab"], reflecting the notion that such a writer was for hire like a horse, ...

Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) offers this definition:

hack n. [short for *hack*ney] 3 a : a person who works solely for mercenary reasons : hireling

As for hireling, the Eleventh Collegiate says this:

hireling n : a person who serves for hire esp. for purely mercenary motives

Other options that might suit the situation are apologist, mouthpiece, mercenary, and hired gun.

  • I like the word apologist. But the word shill serves my present purpose best.
    – f.nasim
    Mar 4, 2013 at 3:54

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