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January 29, 2005
Geyer Beware

In an effort to defend respected marriage fan Maggie Gallagher, syndicated columnist Georgie Ann Geyer writes: "Gallagher is not only a part-time journalist but also a trained sociologist and respected specialist on marriage and the family."

If that's really true, then maybe Gallagher ought to have a talk with Broadway Books, publisher of her last book, which she co-wrote with Linda Waite, "The Case for Marriage."

On the back jacket of that book, Gallagher is described as a "journalist" while Waite is designated a "family sociologist."

Is there any evidence, anywhere, that suggests Gallagher is a trained sociologist? Is this even a claim she makes herself? According to her Yale alumni profile, Gallagher received a B.A. in Religious Studies. In her various biographical notes, I see no mention of a sociology degree of any kind...

So where, one wonders, did Geyer get this info? Keep up the researcher/scholar/expert spin, Maggie! It looks like it's working...

(Bonus laff: Here's an excerpt from Gallagher's bio at a speakers bureau called 21st Century Speakers Inc.: "Maggie Gallagher has emerged as a one of the most influential younger women's voices on marriage, family and social policy." Maggie Gallagher is 44; I guess those married women really do live longer!)

Posted by Greg Beato at 03:55 PM
January 28, 2005
Career Shift

In her initial explanation for why she didn't disclose her payments from HHS until now, and in her slightly refined explanation, well-paid marriage fan Maggie Gallagher makes the following case:

"I've been a marriage expert, researcher, and advocate for nearly 20 years. I've written two books on marriage, numerous articles in scholarly journals, as well as many newspaper columns and magazine articles. My research and expertise is why HHS hired me, and why I accepted the work assignment. I have written a syndicated column for almost 10 years, but my main work has been research and public education on marriage as a social institution. It is not uncommon for researchers, scholars, or experts to get paid by the government to do work relating to their field of expertise. Nor is it considered unethical or shady: if anything, government funded work is considered a mark of an expert's respectability. Until today, researchers and scholars have not generally been expected to disclose a government-funded research project in the past, when they later wrote about their field of expertise in the popular press or in scholarly journals. For these reasons, it simply never occurred to me there was a need to disclose this information."

OK, OK, Maggie, we get it. You're a researcher. You're a scholar. You're an expert. Indeed, you're anything but a journalist.


Yesterday, an anonymous reader sent me a PDF from an online Yale alumni directory. You need a username/password to view the entries, but another Yale alum was kind enough to look at the actual online directory and confirm that the PDF that was sent to me was in fact the profile that exists online for Gallagher. In light of Gallagher's above exhortations, it includes some interesting information.

For example, in the "Job Title" field, Gallagher's profile reads "Syndicated Columnist." In the "Career" field, Gallagher's profile reads "Writer/Journalist." Finally, there is a date-stamp that says this profile was last updated on January 22nd, 2005.

So as of the 22nd, Gallagher primarily considered herself a writer/journalist. Now, however, she's suddenly a researcher/scholar/expert.

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:57 AM
January 27, 2005
Married To It

Throughout her career as a professional marriage tout, Maggie Gallagher has consistently played the "elite" card in her efforts to discredit the values and policies of her ideological foes.

Here, for example, Gallagher writes about the dangers of gay matrimony at The National Review: "Even as American cultural norms are dramatically reshaped by elites, we seem to deny the power of norms to shape our own lives or the lives of people we know."

Here, in a syndicated column about the virtues of traditional marriage, she writes: "In a nation dedicated to the progressive drama -- each generation better off than the last -- elite voices counseled, for reasons of their own, that this one problem was intractable, stubborn, impossible to reverse. Best (they urged us) just to ignore the fact that half or more of our children grow up in fatherless homes, and get on with the business of making the world a better place for single moms."

And here, perhaps on a day when the demands of keeping her own home sufficiently motherful were claiming her attention, she reheats the previous entrée and spices it up with a dash of racial animosity: "Another way of reading the last 40 years is that once again, white, educated elites are using their power to enforce the moral norms and sexual tastes of affluent white people with graduate degrees."

In each instance, Gallagher characterizes spectral, scheming elites as an imperious, diabolical Them, and herself as Us.

So who exactly is this valiant protector who keeps the nation safe from all those privileged white divorce worshippers? Well, for one, she's a proud graduate of the school of hard knocks, otherwise known as Yale University. She lives on the easternmost fringe of the Midwest, in New York's Westchester County. She's the president of the Institute of Marriage and Public Policy, which appears to be an offshoot of the Manhattan Institute, a grassroots collective of populist pointyheads that subsists on tiny $400,000 contributions from jus'-folks donors like the John M. Olin Foundation. She's also an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for American Values, another Gotham cabal which reaps millions from elite-battling foundations to trumpet the virtues of cultural norms. Finally, despite Mrs. Gallagher's apparent dislike of white people, she appears, from all the available evidence, to be lusciously Caucasian.

So what keeps her from being exactly the sort of elite white cultural engineer she regularly derides? Actually, it's pretty obvious. She's conservative - and only liberals can be insular elites. And who knows - maybe she also really likes country music.

Thus, this regal queen of the punditocracy, who was incubated at the National Journalism Center in 1980, refined at The National Review in the mid-'80s, then gamely cast into the dog-eat-dog, free market jungle of conservative opinion subsidy, is an authentic voice of the masses, unimpeachably qualified to advise poor people that marriage is most definitely the cure for what ails them (unless they're homos). Welfare, food stamps, health care, child care, job training, education for single moms and their kids? Those things aren't really working, the affluent, well-nourished, extensively educated, and comfortably underwritten Gallagher maintains in a 2002 essay. Instead, the underclass needs marriage lessons.

I bring all this up, of course, because Mrs. Maggie Gallagher is making news this week. As Howard Kurtz revealed in the Washington Post, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) paid her $21,500 in 2002 for "drafting a magazine article for the HHS official overseeing the [Bush marriage] initiative, writing brochures for the program and conducting a briefing for department officials." In the same year and since then, Kurtz continued, Gallagher wrote columns praising the Bush marriage initiative without disclosing that she'd been paid by the federal government to help promote it. In addition, Kurtz pointed out, Gallagher also "defended Bush's proposal for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage" in "columns, television appearances, and interviews with such newspapers as The Washington Post."

On that note, there's one thing Kurtz didn't mention: In September 2003, Gallagher also testified before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on "The Case for Normal Marriage."

Being completely unacquainted with the manners and mores of U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hearings, I have no idea whether or not it's considered a breach of etiquette to present oneself as a highly credible "expert on marriage" without disclosing that you're also a stealth government marriage courtesan -- so I'll leave that one to the journalism professors to ponder…

What really captivated me was Gallagher's explanation for why she hadn't revealed her relationship with the Department of Health and Human Services until now. "On reflection, I think Howard is right," Gallagher explains. "I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it."

If she had remembered it!

Gallagher was paid $21,500 by the government in 2002. She wrote the columns in question in 2002. Does she really get so many five-figure checks each year from her various benefactors that she can almost immediately forget one for $21,500?

In return for the $21,500, Gallagher's primary task was to draft a 3000-word essay for one Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ultimately, the essay was published by Crisis magazine; in it, Gallagher, writing as Horn, exclaims: "Adults, too, benefit from healthy and stable marriages. They tend to live longer, healthier lives and are more affluent. Married mothers suffer from considerably lower rates of depression than their single counterparts. Like a good education, a good marriage is a real asset. Married men earn between 10 and 40 percent more than similar single men, and married couples accumulate substantially more wealth. By the time they’re ready to retire, married couples have, on average, assets worth two and a half times as much as their single counterparts. (The figure for married couples is $410,000, compared with $167,000 for those who never married and $154,000 for divorced individuals, according to Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher in their book, The Case for Marriage.)"

As John Lott can no doubt attest, it's a nice bit of postmodern reflexiveness to quote yourself in a piece you're ghost-writing. And also highly ethical, because as it turns out, the above passage is so close to this snatch of one of Gallagher's standard stump speeches that it probably does require some form of attribution: "What is less well known is that a similar body of literature exists on the relationship between marriage and adult well-being. Again, to sum up a very broad body of research, in every way that social scientists know how to measure, both men and women do better when they're married. They live longer, they're physically healthier, are happier, and have lower rates of mental and emotional distress -- less anxiety, less hostility, less depression. They make more money than otherwise similar people. This is particularly true of men who are not married. And at the same income level, married couples build more wealth than people with the same or similar income who are single or who only live together rather than getting married. To top it off, married people even have better sex more often than people who are single."

The mind reels, doesn't it? The federal government, which is to say, American taxpayers, gave Mrs. Gallagher $21,500 to recycle one of her speeches so that Wade Horn, who probably gets paid a lot more than that, could pretend to have written a 3000-word essay about the virtues of marriage. And all of this ultimately done in the name of saving taxpayers money!

(Interesting sidenote: In 2001, Gallagher gave an emphatic thumbs-up to another project that Wade Horn midwifed: "In an extraordinary paper, National Fatherhood Initiative president Wade Horn and Urban Institute scholar Isabel Sawhill note that 40 percent of our children still live apart from their fathers; as many as 60 percent will join fatherless households before they turn 18." Obviously, Horn is deeply committed to the notion of strong partnerships, but does he ever write anything on his own?)

Technically, of course, it wasn't just the Horn essay that Gallagher was paid $21,500 for - she also wrote some brochures. But according to Howard Kurtz' article, Wade Horn (or maybe his ghost-quoter) explained that "most of the brochures written by Gallagher -- such as 'The Top Ten Reasons Marriage Matters' - were not used as the [Bush marriage initiative] evolved."

Well, maybe not by the government. And maybe not by the National Review either. But here is a piece that Gallager wrote for the National Review, entitled "Marriage Matters," which breaks down the various reasons marriage matters into numbered blurbs that exhibit all the literary flair one typically associates with government brochures. So, who knows, maybe the HHS actually did get more for its 21 grand than the recycled speech...

Ah, well, perhaps if I were married instead of single, I wouldn't get so depressed over such shenanigans. And, frankly, you have to give credit where credit is due. It seems that marriage has done everything for Maggie Gallagher that she says it's capable of doing. She looks happy. She looks healthy. She's certainly seems to be making lots of money. And while I’m sitting here, unmarried and alone, getting poorer and sicker by the minute, Gallagher and the mysterious Mr. Gallagher are probably romping on fluffy piles of foundation cash, giggling and moaning and screaming in ecstasy as they drive each other toward the kind of sheet-soaking simultaneous orgasms which, as all the research has shown, wealthy married people enjoy far more often - and far more intensely! - than their doomed single counterparts.

Posted by Greg Beato at 08:46 AM