Columnist Geyer Defends Gallagher

By: Dave Astor Georgie Anne Geyer defended fellow Universal Press Syndicate writer Maggie Gallagher in her column today.

Geyer said Gallagher's case is "far more complex" than that of Armstrong Williams, who was dropped by Tribune Media Services for receiving $241,000 from the Department of Education to promote No Child Left Behind. Gallagher is still with Universal after receiving $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services for writing marriage-themed materials.

"Gallagher is not only a part-time journalist but also a trained sociologist and respected specialist on marriage and the family," Geyer wrote, adding that Gallagher received $21,500 from the HHS "not to plug its pro-marriage programs, but rather to supply the department, in the manner of a scholar or researcher, with data on the benefits of marriage. ... Essentially, she was called in as an expert."

Geyer -- who said she doesn't know Gallagher personally despite sharing a syndicate with her -- added: "Still, should she have made clear any government relationship at all? Absolutely. And, in fact, she has said that."

Later in her colum, Geyer wrote: "I think we have two issues here: the ideologicalization of commentary, a la the far right ... but also the privatization of the public relations of government agencies, which reflects this administration's intense secrecy and isolation from the mainstream press."

And Geyer concluded: "I came up completely through journalism and not through special-agenda politics, like so many columnists today. But many newspapers have played into the new ideologicalization and privatization. ... If columnists keep coming up from the ideological ends of the spectrum, and if editors continue to cosset them because they are provocative instead of insisting upon commentators with deep journalistic backgrounds, then we're going to keep having these problems. The real world is made up of complexities that transcend ideology, and those are almost always the realities of the middle."


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