Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Another Shoe Drops on Conservative Columnists

On the heels of the Armstrong Williams scandal, and as Armstrong predicted, we have another conservative columnist who turns out to be on the government payroll. As the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports, Maggie Gallagher received at least $41,500 to write some pro-marriage reports and speeches for HHS (edit - and the Department of Justice).

Gallagher defends her actions in her column here, but she is missing the point. Her "oversight" in not in failing to disclosing her contract, the problem is that there is a contract at all.

As I previously said about Armstrong Williams, if you are a columnist or journalist and want to accept government money to promote something you believe in, great - join the government. If you believe in what the government is doing and want to provide your services free of charge, even better, as long as you disclose your service. But you can't take government money and not disclose, even if what you are doing doesn't "directly" affect you reporting. Once you have taken government money you have an inherent conflict of interest, which can only be cured through full disclosure.

One can only wonder how many other conservative writer might have benefited from the government's conservative reward program. (And isn't Fred Barnes angry that he gives all his copious praise for free?)

And by the way, isn't it interesting that there are all these conservative columnists who rail against the government don't seem to hesitate at all to take their, I mean our, money.