11 February 2005

The Jeff Gannon Controversy

A partisan hack, for a phony baloney news agency that published GOPUSA press releases as news, using a pseudonym, with no journalism background and training is granted White House credentials to shill for the Bush administration.

Media Matters asks some important questions about the Gannon relationship with the White House that have not been answered, including how did he manage to secure press credentials and how he got his hands on classified documents that revealed the identity of covert operatives.

An excellent summary of the Gannon/Guckert affair, with investigative details ferreted out not by the mainstream media, but by bloggers on the internet, can be found here.

Despite his lack of journalistic experience, Guckert used an assumed name and was granted access to the elite White House Press Corps.  His application for a press pass to the House and Senate galleries was rejected because Talon News shares ownership with GOPUSA.com and did not meet press pass standards.  Yet somehow he was still given a daily press pass to White House Briefings for almost two years.

In a press briefing on Feb. 10th, White House Press Secretary McClellan claimed that Guckert was granted White House access because he "showed that he was representing a news organization that published regularly." (emphasis added).

However, Talon News came into existence on March 29, 2003.  It was granted White House Press Corps access just four days (approx. 96 hours) later.  During that four-day time period, Talon News published a total of nine "stories."  

During briefings, Guckert's questions frequently revealed not only his conservative bias, but also a possible coordination with White House Press Secretary McClellan.  Guckert's questions were frequently leading, unabashedly partisan, and at times inflammatory.  Moreover, Guckert apparently had unprecedented access, and even claimed at one point to be "entertaining the Prime Minister of Great Britain."

Maybe the bigger question is how it was so easy for a Republican shill posing as a "journalist' under a false name could hide out for so long with "legitimate" White House press reporters.

And the right wing cries of how "liberal bloggers" dug into Mr. Gannon/Guckert's "personal life" are indeed laughable:

Bloggers who "uncovered" Mr. Guckert's true identity have been accused repeatedly of "digging into Gannon/Guckert's personal life." No one dug into his personal life. He made it available by posting it online... himself. This was all public record. Gannon/Guckert posted all of this on the World Wide Web. No "digging into his personal life" was required. He wasn't followed around and photographed. His phone wasn't tapped. No one went through his trash. Gannon/Guckert, himself, made all of this information public. Every last shred of it.

Granted, the "conclusions" reached by some -- that he operated a gay escort service -- have not been borne out by facts, but the photograph of him in his underwear and the website names registered to his address and his name are public record. No one "dug into his personal life," and buying into that line of reasoning means buying into the classic red herring, "Look-over-here!" line of defense. Which is to say, no defense at all.

The real isues remain: Gannon/Guckert's securing of a supposedly secret memo undercutting Wilson's claim that his wife had nothing to do with the Nigeria/yellowcake assignment; and a fake journalist with a fake name being cleared by White House security. Of course, much of the mainstream press seems to have bought into the misdirection play.


"how it was so easy for a Republican shill posing as a "journalist' under a false name could hide out for so long with "legitimate" White House press reporters."

I guess the better question would be is how it was so easy for a democrat shill (Dan Rather) posing as a "journalist" could hide out for so long posing with other "legitimate" White House press reporters.