Maggie Gallagher confesses to a little past prostitution:
By my records, I was paid $21,500 from HHS in 2002.
Is it acceptable for someone who writes a newspaper column to do research and writing for the government?
Of course, the reason Howard Kurtz of the Post is interested is the now-notorious case of conservative columnist Armstrong Williams, who signed a very different sort of government contract: to promote Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act on his television show. Armstrong defended himself in two ways, first by saying, “I’m a pundit, not a journalist.” And second by saying that he supported the Bush act anyway, so why shouldn’t he take money?
It cost him his newspaper column. Very properly, I might add. I have no interest in taking either of these lines of defense. So what’s my answer to Howard?
My first instinct is to say, no, Howard, I had no special obligation to disclose this information. I’m a marriage expert. I get paid to write, edit, research and educate on marriage. If a scholar or expert gets paid to do some work for the government, should he or she disclose that if he writes a paper, essay or op-ed on the same or similar subject? If this is the ethical standard, it is an entirely new standard. I was not paid to promote marriage. I was paid to produce particular research and writing products (articles, brochures, presentations), which I produced. My lifelong experience in marriage research, public education and advocacy is the reason HHS hired me.
But the real truth is that it never occurred to me. On reflection, I think Howard is right. I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers.
Gallagher’s offense against propriety is not as bad as Armstrong’s, but you know, the left-wing media hos are smart enough to take their payments from the foundations. You’d think that the right wing variety, who supposedly oppose government involvement in the economy on a philosophical basis, would be wise enough to oppose it on a personal and practical level as well.
What do these people think they are, PBS?