Thursday, February 10, 2005

pc thirty-one said we caught a dirty one

Why does none of this surprise me? Am I really that cynical?

The Gannon revelations come on the heels of the discovery that Bush administration officials signed lucrative contracts for several conservative pundits who hyped White House initiatives and did not disclose the government's payments. The Talon News fiasco raises serious questions about who the White House is allowing into its daily press briefings: How can a reporter using a fake name and working for a fake news organization get press credentials from the White House, let alone curry enough favor with the notoriously disciplined Bush administration to get picked by the president in order to ask fake questions? The White House did not return Salon's calls seeking answers to those questions.

The situation "begs further investigation," says James Pinkerton, a media critic for Fox News who has worked for two Republican White Houses. "In the six years I worked for Reagan and Bush I, I remember the White House being strict about who got in. It's inconceivable to me that the White House, especially after 9/11, gives credentials to people without doing a background check."
And the association never would have backed a reporter using an alias. Says Pinkerton: "If [Gannon] was walking around the White House with a pass that had a different name on it than his real name, that's pretty remarkable." Smith, who covers the White House for Associated Press radio, says he "could have sworn" that he saw credentials around Gannon's neck with the name "Jeff Gannon" on them.
As a would-be reporter, Gannon often copied entire sections from White House press releases and pasted them into his stories, according to an analysis done by Media Matters. This despite the fact he once ridiculed legitimate journalists for "working off the talking points provided by the Democrats."
What likely forced Gannon to quit Talon News Tuesday were the revelations uncovered by bloggers such as World O' Crap, AmericaBlog, Mediacitizen, Daily Kos and Eschaton, along with their readers, about Gannon's past. For instance, bloggers uncovered evidence suggesting that the person and company that own the Web site also registered the gay-themed sites, and And according to this online research, that company, Bedrock Corp., is owned by a man named Jim Guckert, leading to speculation that Guckert and Gannon are one and the same. Bedrock is based in Wilmington, Del., where Gannon apparently is from.
It's likely Talon and Gannon would have remained obscure had the swaggering reporter not popped his now famous question to Bush. The details surrounding the Jan. 26 press room incident are telling, as they highlight the elasticity Gannon and other partisan advocates often use in their "reporting." Gannon asked Bush, "Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy." He continued, "[Minority Leader] Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

Reid never made any such comment about soup lines.
All of which begs the question, "Who are they issuing credentials to?" asks Hudson at the Niagara Falls Reporter. "Could a guy from [Comedy Central's] 'The Daily Show' get press credentials from this White House?"