Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A fundamental conflict of loyalty

"I think it's possible to be an honest journalist and be loyal to a cause. It's not really possible to be an honest journalist and be loyal to a person, a politcal party or a faction. Why do I say that? I think it relates to my basic belief that there is some relationship between journalism and one's perception of the truth. One can believe that certain things, ideas, proposals, would be good for America and can openly state that. But to be loyal to a politiical party, a person or faction means that you do not see your primary goal as commitment to speaking the truth to people who are your audience. There's a fundamental conflict of loyalty there." - Maggie Gallagher, discussing journalistic independence at a Commitee of Concerned Journalists Forum (1997)

Here's what she's done since then, from SourceWatch

On January 26, 2005, the Washington Post reported that Maggie Gallagher, a prominent advocate for the amendment to ban gay marriage as well as funding for marriage based health and social programs, had accepted a $21,500 contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote President Bush's marriage promotion initiatives. The contract included ghostwriting articles for department officials, writing brochures and briefing department officials.

While she was receiving federal funds to promote the Bush marriage initiative, Gallagher wrote in praise of it on National Review Online and dismissed criticisms of the initiative in her syndicated column as "nonsense." She wrote, "Bush plans to use a tiny fraction of surplus welfare dollars to fund marriage education services for at-risk couples." She also wrote about the marriage initiative for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard, in addition to speaking about it during interviews, including one with the Washington Post.

Gallagher also receieved a $20,000 Justice Department grant for a writing a report titled "Can Government Strengthen Marriage?" that was published by the private, non-profit National Fatherhood Intiative. Wade Horn, the Health and Human Services Department's assistant secretary for children and families who defended Gallagher's contracts as "not unusual," founded the National Fatherhood Initiative before entering government.
I've been aware for some time that Gallagher was one of the journalists paid off by the administration to write favorable stories, but I hadn't noticed that Gallagher had previously denounced the very thing she has done as being antithetical to journalistic ethics. It's one thing to be a shill, but it's quite another thing to betray your own principles. The former is deserving of derision, the latter is tragic.

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