‘N.Y. Times’ Offers Correction on Maggie Gallagher Editorial

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By: Greg Mitchell

In a prominent move, The New York Times offered a correction on its editorial page today regarding a previous editorial concerning columnist Maggie Gallagher. She had sent the newspaper an e-mail, E&P has learned, charging “reckless disregard of the truth.”

This is the latest twist in the current controversy over payments from government agencies to newspaper columnists and whether some are being paid as advisers or with the expectation they may also promote certain policies in their published writing.

The Times correction reads: “An editorial last Thursday incompletely described the contract between the Health and Human Services Department and the conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher. The deparmtnet paid Ms. Gallagher $21,500 as a consultant on marriage policies, including for help in drafting an essay that was published under the name of an assistent secretary. Ms. Gallagher said the contract did not include promoting the administration’s policies in her column.”

Gallagher sent a letter to The New York Times over the weekend, E&P has learned, asking that it issue a retraction, charging the newspaper with “a particularly reckless disregard of the truth” and saying it was “false and extremely damaging to me.” Gallagher, at the same time, mistakenly sent a copy of that message to E&P.

She further asked that the Times publish a letter to the editor written by her, which it has not yet done. That letter, also sent to E&P, read:

“On January 27, 2005, in the editorial ‘The Best Coverage Money Can Buy’ the New York Times lumped me with Armstrong Williams, as journalists paid by the Bush administration for news coverage.

“To me, this is an extremely serious charge. It is also completely false. I was paid by Health and Human Services to do six specific pieces of work on marriage. As the New York Times acknowledged in its news coverage the same day, I?m a marriage expert, with a long history of research and education on marriage. It is not uncommon or unethical for the government to pay experts for their work.

“What I should have disclosed in my syndicated column is this: I?ve done a small amount of legitimate work for the government in my field of expertise.”

Gallagher has also asked The Washington Post for a retraction, but the newspaper has not obliged, according to Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt and reporter Howard Kurtz (see separate story on this site).

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