Mike McManus, who writes a weekly column syndicated in 30 to 40 newspapers, said he was paid about $4,000 to train marriage mentors in 2003 and 2004. McManus was subcontracted by the Lewin Group, which had a contract to support community-based programs "to form and sustain healthy marriages."While McManus "defended his dual role as a journalist and a government consultant," Wade Horn, assistant secretary for Children and Families at the department, issued a directive banning the practice of paying commentators to promote federal policies. It's about time.
Churches, synagogues, mosques and other private institutions should be the ones promoting the formation and sustaining of healthy relationships. Not the federal government.
The president has even weighed in. According to another article in USA TODAY, "President Bush on Wednesday ordered his Cabinet secretaries not to hire columnists to promote their agendas." The president had it right when he said,
All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet. . . . [there] needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press.Well said, Mr. President.
We know that this is this is not the first Administration to pay pundits. The USA TODAY article reports that part of $20,000-grant to same-sex marriage foe Maggie Gallagher "was approved while President Clinton was still in office." The Clinton Administration -- and perhaps also that of the first President Bush and their predecessors -- may also have paid pundits.
I'm glad HHS's Horn and the President have called for a halt to this practice. Today, gays are offended because the government has paid pundits to advocate traditional marriage. Just as conservatives would be offended by government support of TV programming which shows same-sex couples in a positive light.
I, for one, favor both promoting traditional marriage and showing same-sex couples in a positive light. I just don't think the federal government should be the institution funding these worthy endeavors.