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We had a fake journalist on the white house???
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Old 23 Feb 2005, 03:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default We had a fake journalist on the white house???

The Scandal That Keeps on Giving


By Dan Froomkin / Washinton Post

The story of the phony White House reporter who called himself Jeff Gannon just gets curiouser and curiouser every day -- and shows no sign of abating.

Quite the contrary, in fact. After only occasionally burbling out of the realm of bloggers and media watchers over the past few weeks, the story exploded onto network television last night.

And after a few days in which the chatter was fixated on the salacious associations that bloggers uncovered between James D. Guckert (Gannon's real name) and gay escort Web sites, the focus is back on a serious public policy question: Why was a non-journalist asking slanted non-questions welcomed into the White House Briefing room?

Here's Brian Williams, introducing the story to about 10-million-plus people last night on the NBC Nightly News:

"It is the talk of Washington these days. It involves a man who was a regular in the White House press briefing room, he was free to ask President Bush and his press secretary on a regular basis. But it turns out he wasn't really a journalist and wasn't using his real name -- and there is more to his past that is making a lot of people wonder what he was doing in the White House in the first place."

The NBC report then quotes journalism ethics lecturer Kelly McBride asking: "Was he a plant? Was he a ringer? It's a great question, and that has yet to be answered."

And now it turns out that Guckert did initially raise eyebrows in the White House press office -- but that any qualms were quickly waved off, and Guckert then kept on getting waved in.

Joe Strupp writes in Editor & Publisher: "Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was so concerned about Talon News reporter James Guckert's potential ties to the Republican Party that he stopped calling on him at press briefings for about a week in 2003, Fleischer told E&P today.

" 'I found out that he worked for a GOP site, and I didn't think it was my place to call on him because he worked for something that was related to the party,' Fleischer said in a phone interview. 'He had the editor call me and made the case that they were not related to the Republican Party. He said they used the GOP name for marketing purposes only.'

"He said he resumed calling on Guckert, who used the alias Jeff Gannon, after Bobby Eberle, owner of both GOPUSA and Talon News, 'assured me that they were not part of the Republican Party.' Eberle is a Texas Republican activist and served as a delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention."

Strupp asked Fleischer if he thinks changes should be made in the credentialing process be made. Fleischer replied that "the White House Correspondents Association should either seek a change or leave it alone and recognize that there is room for a little weirdness on both sides."

Fleischer also said Guckert was "just as legitimate as some of the fringe organizations in the room."

Another new wrinkle: It appears Guckert was cleared into the briefing room even before his alleged news organization existed.

Eric Boehlert in Salon writes: "Thanks to the continued digging by online sleuths, there's now documented evidence that Guckert attended White House briefings as early as February 2003. Guckert, using his alias 'Jeff Gannon,' once boasted online about asking then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer a question at the Feb. 28, 2003, briefing. The date is significant because in order to receive a White House press pass, Guckert would have needed to prove that he worked for a news organization that, in the words of White House press secretary Scott McClellan, 'published regularly,' in itself an extraordinarily low threshold. Critics have charged that while Talon News may publish regularly, it boasts a nearly all-volunteer news team that includes not a single person with actual journalism experience. (The team does, though, have quite a bit of experience working on Republican campaigns.) In other words, the outfit is not legitimate or independent, two criteria often used in Washington to receive press credentials.

"But what's significant about the February 2003 date is that Talon did not even exist then."

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC writes in his blog: "Today, the key, slim, rationale for his admittance to the briefing room -- that the 'vanity website' for which he 'reported,' Talon News, was created four days before 'Jeff Gannon' got his first White House pass -- collapsed. . . .

"It was a bad enough that somebody let in a guy with no media experience, an alias, and a background as an on-line escort -- but why did they let him in if he wasn't even pretending to represent a news organization of any kind?"

The New York Times weighed in with its second new story on the topic this morning. Anne E. Kornblut writes: "Over the last few years, Mr. Guckert's frequent presence and slanted questions at White House briefings elicited smirks and raised eyebrows from other reporters. The White House press pool tends to attract a wider variety of personalities than those covering other major government agencies because the work is more high profile, with regularly scheduled briefings that are often televised. . . .

" 'This is an irritant that we deal with, people who try to hijack the briefing for ideological reasons,' said Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder, president of the White House Correspondents' Association. 'A few people are in there just to get across their points of view. But it's the kind of thing we put up with, because nobody can quite figure out how to deal with it.' . . .

"One of the most widely debated questions has been Mr. Guckert's access to the White House, which is usually limited to well-established news organizations and off limits to paid political workers. In an environment where the lines between advocacy journalism and partisan activity are blurred, Mr. Guckert appears to have gained access as a fringe participant who never sought entry through the usual channels but instead returned repeatedly for temporary passes."

Scott Shepard writes for Cox News Service: "With the mystery of 'Jeff Gannon' deepening, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., on Thursday renewed her call for the White House to explain its relationship with a conservative ex-reporter linked to an online gay escort service.

"Slaughter said the relationship between the White House press office and 'Gannon,' whose real name is James Dale Guckert, was 'anything but typical.' The White House should 'stop the stonewalling and come clean,' she added, following up on her initial request a week ago."

In the Houston Chronicle, Rachel Graves interviews Guckert's former boss, Bobby Eberle.

"Eberle is the owner, president and CEO of two Web sites, the openly partisan GOPUSA and what he says is a nonpartisan news organization, Talon News. . . .

"Eberle would not discuss Gannon, but he portrayed himself as a do-gooder who got involved in journalism and politics to spread information and the conservative message."

And finally, it's worth noting that the White House press corps appears to consider this less of a story than a lot of other people do. Case in point: President Bush took almost 20 questions at yesterday's press conference, and not one of them was about Guckert.


This is serious and right down scary!!

First there were a bunch of sellout journalists who were selling their columns to the highest republican bidder and now THIS!?

I doubt the Bush administration has something to do with this but if they did for fucks sakes they sunk to a new low. There are a lot of questions that SHOULD be answered and I think american deserves those answers like. WTF was he doing there in the first place.

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Old 23 Feb 2005, 03:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i remember hearing this on the Daily show. Pretty freaky stuff IMO.
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Old 23 Feb 2005, 05:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What's funny is we have croked journalists like that all over the place. In The White House, in sports, on our local news and on the internet.
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