ANOTHER COLUMNIST WAS PAID TO PROMOTE BUSH PROPOSAL
Tue Jan 25 2005 20:13:59 ET
In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush’s push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.
But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president’s proposal, reveals Howard Kurtz in Wednesday runs of the WASHINGTON POST.
"The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples" and "educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage," she wrote in National Review Online, for example, adding that this could "carry big payoffs down the road for taxpayers and children."
Gallagher explains to Kurtz: "Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it? I don’t know. You tell me." She said she would have "been happy to tell anyone who called me" about the contract but that "frankly, it never occurred to me" to disclose it.
National Review Editor Rich Lowry said of the HHS contract: "We would have preferred that she told us, and we would have disclosed it in her bio."
Forget for a moment the whole issue of disclosure, etc. Yes, I know that’s the meat of the story, but when I read this, one thing came to my mind. Why is it that when caught with a hand in the cookie jar, the first instinct is to say something like "No one asked me, so I didn’t say anything"? Explanations like this never cut it. In PR terms, this is a no no. It’s better to just shut up and not comment. Then, she makes matters worse by saying, "frankly, it never occurred to me" to disclose. This is like spoon feeding the critics.
Gallagher has made her bed.