As advocates for same-sex marriage tried to fight the Bush administration's push for the Marriage Protection Amendment, it seems that the Administration paid off a journalist to get its message out.
Syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher was a stealth defender of George W. Bush's $300 million plan to encourage marriage--especially for low-income straight couples--during 2002. However, what she forgot to tell her readers was that she received a $21,500 contract from the Department of Health and Human Services to preach her views, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Her work under the contract, which ran from January through October 2002, included drafting a magazine article for the HHS official overseeing the initiative, writing brochures for the program, and conducting a briefing for department officials, the newspaper reported.
"Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?" Gallagher told the Post Tuesday. "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.
Gallagher later filed a column, writing, "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."
The issue of syndicated columnists--who are assumed by most readers to follow journalistic ethics--came to the forefront earlier this month when conservative commentator Armstrong Willimans admitted to receiving $241,000 from the Education Department to promote the president's No Child Left Behind act.
Gallagher received an additional $20,000 from the Bush administration in 2002 and 2003 for writing a report titled "Can Government Strengthen Marriage?" for a private organization called the National
Fatherhood Initiative, according to the newspaper.