Thursday, January 27, 2005

And Then There Were Three...

That is intended to be a reference to a detective story by Agatha Christie and also a reference to the third journalist that has been paid by the Bush administration for their "expertise":

One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.

It's the disclosing bit that is of concern here. McManus supposedly got his ten thousand dollars for work done in the government's pro-marriage programs, not for spouting the administration's propaganda in his column. His case is similar to that of Maggie Gallagher, though he scored even less money.

As I mentioned before, what is really worrisome about these two hires is that they are not impartial scientist employed for the improvement of the government's plans but partisan debaters on the issues. The Salon article says as much:

The problem springs from the failure of both Gallagher and McManus to disclose their government payments when writing about the Bush proposals. But one HHS critic says another dynamic has led to the controversy, and a blurring of ethical and journalistic lines: Horn and HHS are hiring advocates -- not scholars -- from the pro-marriage movement. "They're ideological sympathizers who propagandize," says Tim Casey, attorney for Legal Momentum, a women's rights organization. He describes McManus as being a member of the "extreme religious right."

Now, I wonder who will be number four?
Original link via Eschaton.