Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Canon of Gannon: When Bloggers Attack

  • The mystery man himself

  • I have been following the bizarre and often sexually explicit saga of Jeff Gannon, the White House correspondant for Talon News pretty closely because I am a member of Daily Kos, I read Atrios' blog Eschaton regularly, I visited Americablog about this and have followed the story in the Right Wing Corporate Media.

    Briefly, here are the facts of the matter:
    At a recent White House press conference Jeff Gannon asked President Bush if he planned to work with Democrats who were "divorced from reality." The question was so biased that Media Matters for America started to ask: who the hell is this guy?

    It turns out that Jeff Gannon worked for Talon News which appears to be a front for GOPUSA. By front I mean they shared the same address, were ran by the same people, shared web space, all the Talon affiliate addresses turned out to be PO Boxes, etc. GOPUSA is a partisan organization dedicated to spreading the conservative message. Talon news did not exist until the end of March 2003, and Jeff Gannon was attending White House press conferences well before that, at least as early as February 2003.

    Now, you're not supposed to be able to go to White House press conferences unless you get a really thorough background check by the Secret Service. They also don't allow married women reporters to go by their maiden name, even if that is their professional name: they must use their married name. Even New York Time columnist Maureen Dowd had difficulty getting credentialled to attend White House press briefings.

    The problem was that Jeff Gannon was not Jeff Gannon's name. His real name is James D. Guckert. He has no background as a journalist. And it turned out that until mid March of 2003 he was also advertising himself as a male escort; i.e. he was a gay prostitute.

    Sadly, this is not science fiction. All the gory details and explicit photos are at: Americablog: A man called Jeff. There are links to explicit photographs from that site, so if you're a chick who wants to see what 8"+ cut looks like, go to that story and follow the links.

    The story gets even more convoluted. It turns out that Jeff/James was a favorite with conservative reporters because he always had the scoop about what was going on first. For example:
  • Jeff/James (hereafter J/J) claimed to have seen the Top Secret memo about CIA agent Valerie Plame. Last night J/J denied this on CNN's Anderson Cooper show, but he posted to conservative blogs claiming he did and he interviewed Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame's husband and claimed to have seen it.
  • He predicted the time the President would announce the "shock and awe" campaign in Iraq had begun hours before any other journalist knew about it.
  • He targeted Mary Mapes as the CBS producer who oversaw the Bush/TANG forged memos story before anyone else.
    All of the above pretty much comes from Editor & Publisher's story here.

    So, what does all this mean really? Is it a big deal? From what I have seen of the right-wing of the blogosphere, they generally do not think so. I think some of that attitude comes from the fact that it originates from the left wing. But I also think that some of that comes from the fact that they have not seen the story unfold as I have. Only the true partisans who put their conservative beliefs ahead of the nation's interest can really want to defend the White House on this one.

    I don't give a shit if he is gay. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I also don't think there is anything inherently wrong with prostitution. So, I really don't think that matters except insofar is it may relate to: how he got access to the White House and how he learned about the above. I believe there are national security implications in this incident and those need to be investigated.

    J/J is now appearing in the media claiming his privacy was violated by the bloggers. Sorry JJ. When I put up a blog that said I was a Pagan and an alcoholic, I lost my right to privacy on those issues. I publicized and published about those issues. When you advertise publically that you are available as a escort and a top for $200/hr or $1,200 a weekend you lose your right to claim privacy on that issue.

    J/J also asks if his past should prevent him from having a future. Obviously it should not, he should have the opportunity to change careers, alter his life, etc. But you don't get to keep your websites advertising yourself as available as an escort at the same time you are shilling for a right wing organization in the guise of being a White House correspondant. You can't claim a break from your past if you past is still your present.

    J/J claims that the bloggers have destroyed his life. No, the consequences of your poor choices and decisions have destroyed your life.

    J/J asserts that his privacy has been violated. Wrong answer. In 2003 and 2004 Jeff/James published stories that were untrue that then Senator Tom Daschle did not own a home in the state he represented. Two bloggers paid by Daschle's opponent used those stories to attack Daschle. Mary Mapes was a private person, not a media personality as a CBS producer until J/J violated her privacy to attack her as part of the So-Called Liberal Media. She lost her job. J/J was part of the outing of a clandestine CIA agent, Valerie Plame, hurting her professionally and privately. Sorry J/J. I have no sympathy.

    It is obvious that this man had a patron in the White House who got him past the Secret Service and set him up as a friendly face in the press room. It is equally clear that whoever J/J's contact is, they fed him exclusive stories and used him to get false attack stories into the mainstream press to attack Democratic candidates.

    We need to find out who that person is and they need to resign in disgrace. Not because of the sexual prostitution, but because of the prostitution of our national security in favor of partisan politics and sleazy media manipulation.

    I pray to the Goddess that it turns out to be Karl Rove.

    Good Background on the Gannon/Guckert story can be found at: DKosopedia: Jeff Gannon. The current site where active investigation is going on is: here. Feel free to join in, they are looking for volunteers.
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