Friday, February 11, 2005

And we have a winner...

Forget Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher and Mike McManus. We have an undisputed winner in the sweepstakes for Best White House Media Propagandist, and his name is Jeff Gannon. Except, of course, when it isn't.

An explanation is in order, so indulge me. Gannon, who worked for the avowedly right-wing website Talon News before he resigned under pressure this week, rose to notoriety a couple of weeks ago after he lobbed a loaded softball question at President Bush during a White House press conference.

Gannon alleged that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., "seem to have divorced themselves from reality." As "proof," he referred to a joke that radio host Rush Limbaugh made about Reid and treated it as a legitimate piece of news. Oh, and did I mention that Gannon also wrote stories that copied whole paragraphs of GOP fact sheets verbatim?

What we have before us is poor, biased journalism at its finest. But don't worry, it gets better: "Gannon" isn't actually Gannon. He's Jim Guckert, a guy whose journalism training consists of two days at a right-wing reporting seminar.

You should also know a couple of other things about Guckert. First, he wrote numerous gay-bashing stories that were posted on Talon News and GOPUSA.com, both owned by the same Republican oil magnate from Texas. (Both sites have deleted Guckert's stories since Guckert's resignation.) Second, he registered the following domain names a few years ago for an unnamed client: hotmilitarystud.com, militaryescort.com, and militaryescortm4m.com.

Despite his questionable credentials, he obtained documents naming Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. Plame's outing came after her husband, former Gabon Ambassador Joseph Wilson, contradicted the Bush administration's pre-war claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger. Patrick Fitzgerald, a special investigator heading a criminal probe into the matter, is threatening to send a couple of reporters to jail for not revealing their sources. Oddly, though, it appears that neither Guckert nor Robert Novak, the columnist who revealed Plame's identity in the first place, has been subjected to that kind of scrutiny.

So how does a newbie reporter working under a pseudonym score admission to White House press conferences and get hold of documents with big-time national-security implications? It's a good question, one that neither White House press secretary Scott McClellan nor anyone else in the Bush administration has answered so far. U.S. Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., are calling on Fitzgerald to investigate.

Regardless of how all of this turns out, I've learned a very valuable lesson in the last few weeks: Fake news is where it's at these days.

2 Comments:

Blogger Susan of LocalTint said...

"An explanation is in order.." I'd say so, if you're taking Mike McManus out of the competition--but I get your gist.

Fake News is so now. (BTW: Was I the only one devastated that this week's Daily Shows were all re-runs?)

11:37 PM  
Blogger Rurality said...

Yeah, Jon Stewart gets more vacation time than anybody I know!

10:11 AM  

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