Saturday, February 19, 2005
The Lies of Gannongate
An ADVOCATE EDITORIAL
Thus far, the only truth being told in the Gannongate scandal is that being offered up by the progressive internet media.
Current White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, can't seem to get their stories straight on precisely when, or how, or why, the White House became suspicious of the "non-journalist journalist" Jeff Gannon--and when, or how, or why Gannon got a coveted White House press pass.
First McClellan told the press Gannon was admitted to the White House as a "Talon News" reporter, and there was never any doubt as to his legitimacy in that role.
Then we were told that, in fact, he was admitted as a correspondent for a patently-partisan non-journalistic enterprise, GOPAUSA.com.
Next Ari Fleischer disclosed that the White had become suspicious of Gannon early on--and checked out his employer, Talon News, to determine whether it was a legitimate news operation. That "checking out" involved nothing more than a phone call between Fleischer and Republican activist Bobby Eberle, to hear Fleischer tell it.
Not so, said McClellan.
In fact, the check involved a thorough review of Gannon's employer--which, says McClellan, was not Talon News at the time, but GOPUSA.com.
McClellan said he didn't know Gannon; now we find out that Gannon sent McClellan a card when the White House Press Secretary got married--and was given a coveted invite to the White House's exclusive Christmas Party, an event which, according to several White House correspondents, signifies that the White House believes a journalist is in good standing with the Washington establishment. More recent revelations suggest that the "degrees of separation" between Jeff Gannon ("James Guckert") and Karl Rove ("Minister of Evil") is precisely "one": Morton C. Blackwell, Rove's mentor and Gannon's teacher at the conservative quack-factory The Leadership Institute.
We were told by McClellan, on Bush's behalf, that Bush called on Gannon/Guckert randomly at a rare presidential press conference on January 26th, 2005.
Nobody--not in the establishment press, not in the internet media--believes this. White House press conferences are without question, as a matter of course, scripted right down to who gets to ask the President a question (as well as, you know, who gets to be in the room--within ten feet of a sitting President--in the first place).
[On the video of the press conference, you can see the President briefly grimace with nervousness when he asks "journalist" Gannon/Guckert a question].
We were likewise told by McClellan, on Bush's behalf, that the President has never met and doesn't know Bobby Eberle, the founder of GOPUSA.com, the creator of "Talon News," and--nominally, at least--Gannon/Guckert's "editor." That denial raised some eyebrows, as well; Bush and Eberle have both been members of the Board of Directors of the Texas Lyceum Association (including, we believe, at the same time) and Eberle was a member of the Texas Delegation to the 2000 presidential convention, where Bush was, you know, "put over the top" for his nomination by, you know, the Texas Delegation.
Does anyone believe Eberle never even got a photo op with Bush for his years and years of service to the Texas Republican Party, the Party from which Bush himself was originally spawned?
Indeed, Eberle's involvement with the Texas Republican Party could best be described as "heavy" to "obsessive," as could be said of his wife, as could be said of his closest business associate, Bill Fairbrother, with whom he started GOPUSA.com. [Since the Gannongate scandal was uncovered, his wife's and Bill's biographies have since been suspiciously wiped from the GOPUSA.com website; but hey, what's a little political whitewash among friends and spouses?].
Of course, you wouldn't know about Eberle's deep investment in the Republican Party of Texas if you listened to, say, the Republican Party of Texas--which has denied knowing him.
Which, of course, is also a lie.
Speaking of denials, how often do you see a conservative advocacy outlet like "Accuracy in Media" (good Lord, the irony!) defending prostitution?
And how! -- it's gay prostitution, too!
According to AIM, Guckert's only "crime" was asking softball, partisan questions to a sitting President.
On the other hand, in the U.S. (even red states!) being a $200-an-hour whore is, in fact, sort of illegal.
Now comes Jeff Gannon (James Guckert), already a liar by virtue of the fact that we had to print not one, but two names for him in this sentence, lifting his brief, self-imposed exile from making a fool of himself on national television by returning to CNN for another gorge-inducing interview.
In which interview, he:
1. inexplicably explained changing his first and last name by saying that they were harder to "pronounce, remember, and spell" than his pseudonym, leading CNN's Anderson Cooper to wonder, along with the rest of America, how "James" is harder to pronounce or spell than "Jeff";
2. "categorically" denied that the White House knew anything of his sexual past (which position he retreated from within less than twelve hours, telling The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz the next day that "as far as [he] knew" the White House wasn't aware he was a gay prostitute (memo to...wait, how do you spell that name?...oh, that's right, "James": look up the difference between "categorical" and "conditional," friend, it's a handy thing for a journalist to know);
3. claimed, incredibly, that despite wanting very much to become a journalist--"I asked to attend the White House briefing because...I wanted to report on the activities there"--he could not remember the date of his first published article as a journalist (a fact Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank has publicly said he finds absolutely incredible, in the literal sense of that word: "straining or breaking credulity"; there's now some reason [see also here] to believe Guckert had been in the White House for three years before his forced "retirement," not the two he and the White House have been claiming);
4. refused to answer whether he had recently posted nude pictures of himself on the internet, while attempting to imply (as we already know is untrue, Jeff/James) that he hadn't done so for years;
5. couldn't or wouldn't explain how he got a White House press pass despite not being a reporter ("You'll have to ask the White House that");
6. lied baldly in saying that he got his incredibly high-profile job as a White House correspondent for GOPUSA.com because "[GOPUSA.com was] aware of...the writing I did," when, in fact, Gannon/Guckert had not done any journalistic reporting to that point, for anyone;
7. changed tack on whether he had received a confidential C.I.A. memorandum (he had implied that to CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he had, but categorically denied it a week later to CNN's Anderson Cooper--Jesus, doesn't he know these guys talk with one another?);
8. tacitly acknowledged that GOPUSA.com and Talon News (which are one and the same) are now refusing to talk about the whole affair, thus leaving certain questions about the whole affair continually unanswered (because he wouldn't answer them either, that is, as "I don't represent them any longer");
9. conceded that much of his White House "reporting" consisted of "relying on transcripts from the [White House] briefings [and]...on press releases," which bizarre, paint-by-numbers manner of "reportage" he considered an important attempt to "communicate to my readers exactly what the White House believes on any certain issue...an unvarnished, unfiltered version of what they believe";
10. asserted, hilariously, that "what's been done to me is far in excess of what has ever been done to any other journalist that I can remember," failing only to mention that, putting aside mere "journalists" for a moment, a recent President of the United States received much, much worse for much, much less (as prostitution, unlike adultery, is illegal); and
11. conceded that he lied when he said, one week ago, that his only involvement in a series of gay/pornographic/prostitution/pimping sites was as a website "designer"--(yes, designer!)--rather than the featured (and decidedly nude, and decidedly ready to trade sex for cash) main attraction.
But then again, Guckert--known in gay prostitution circles as "The Bulldog"--has always billed himself as "discrete" [sic].
And McClellan, Fleischer, and the Republican Party of Texas--prostitutes, undoubtedly, of a different sort altogether--are likewise "discrete," aren't they?
To the tune of so many lies, misdirections, and evasions we're forced to return, once more, to the fully-sourced investigative articles of The Nashua Advocate and the many other advocacy-based and news-oriented outlets which have covered this story so well and so thoroughly, such as Editor & Publisher and America Blog.
Without them, Americans might actually be fooled into thinking Gannon's "critique" of his critics was good enough, and not, as Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Leonard Pitts recently wrote, a situation in which "I'm still waiting for a good explanation of what Jeff Gannon was doing in the White House--and for you to be upset about it."
Well, we are upset, Leonard.
Because a hundred accurate words ought to outweigh, in the mainstream media, a thousand words of deception.
So if you want the truth about Gannongate, rather than the spin and the damage control Mr. Guckert's been offering up in front of every video camera which will have him (after several years spent, apparently, offering himself to every photographic camera which would have him), you can read the last week of coverage in The Advocate.
http://nashuaadvocate.blogspot.com/2005 ... ngate.html