Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Jeff Gannon: A Bad Week Gets Worse for Bush

First his own party tells him that they don't share his "priorities" on the budget, now there is a problem brewing for Bush. If you want the long story, go here.

What's the big deal? The Bush Administration provided White House media credentials to a guy (known as Jeff Gannon, although his real name appears to be James "JD" Guckert) who does not appear to have a journalism background, and whose "news organization" looks to be merely part of a conservative political organization called GOPUSA (and the founder is -- you'd better sit down -- a Texas Republican).

His role? To ask softball questions to the president and his spokesman in the midst of contentious news conferences. Oh, and he also and routinely reprinted long passages verbatim from official press releases as original news articles on his website. (PS -- CNB got that from the Boston Globe. No plagiarism!)

The kicker? Mr. Gannon/Guckert runs several websites . . .with a gay military theme. Here's his AOL pic. It's not relevant, but it's the part of the story that does two things: (1) gets it more attention, and (2) gives many conservative bloggers something to focus upon, rather than the troublesome truth.

Bottom line: A guy, evidently using an alias, not only has an audience with the U.S. President, but he actually gets to ask him a question. This is the same Administration that had Cheney hiding out for months at a time under the guise of protecting him -- do they now just allow anyone to stroll into the White House? Please note that his bio is off the Talon News website, as are his articles (though you can go to the cache on Google). Doesn't that seem mildly odd?

The White House says that Gannon has come in for the past two years on daily passes (he did not have a permanent pass), noting that daily passes may be issued to anyone who writes for an organization that publishes regularly and who is cleared to enter the building. This won't be an issue any longer, as Mr. Gannon/Guckert has retired.

What is funny is that at the very same press conference where he took a question from Gannon/Guckert, Pres. Bush joked to a different White House reporter that "Yeah, I should have done a background check on you." Right thought, Pres. Bush, but wrong guy.

We've learned in the last month that several conservative commentators were paid by the Bush Administration: Armstrong Williams -- the man who set this all off, and who ominously said "there are others", Maggie Gallagher (her best line: ""Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it? I don't know. You tell me."), and Michael McManus. No one is accusing Bush of paying Mr. Gannon/Guckert (at least not yet), but, at a minimum, this adds fuel to the fire concerning the Bush Administration's thinly-veiled propaganda.

Proof that blogging works on the left and not just the right (as with Danny "Courage" Rather), in just 24 hours, Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-NY) has sent a letter to Pres. Bush requesting an explanation for why Gannon/Guckert was repeatedly credentialed as a member of the White House press corps AND regularly called upon in White House press briefings by Press Secretary Scott McClellan, despite his false name and questionable journalistic credentials.

Wonder if Bush can use some of his political capital to make this one go away. . .