Saturday, February 19, 2005

"Jeff Gannon" PR offensive begins 

From the Editor and Publisher transcript.

No time to look at this deeply right now; read it for yourselves. Just a few extracts to put on the record:

COOPER: There are those who have said that the reason perhaps you are using a different name is that there is stuff from your past that you did not want people to know about or find out about.

GANNON: How I'll address that is that I have made mistakes in my past. And these are all of a very personal and private nature that have been -- that have been all brought to the surface by people who disagreed with the question I asked at the presidential press conference several weeks ago. And is -- the effect of this has been that we seem to have established a new standard for journalists in this country, where if someone disagrees with you, then your personal life, your private life, and anything you have ever done in the past is going to be brought up for public inspection.

Am I alone in reading this as a blackmail threat, by "Gannon," against other members of the press?

Move along people, move along! If there's a story here, there shouldn't be!

Talk about defining deviancy down! Suppose "Gannon"'s private life included, um, man-on-dog sex. How would Senator-but-not-for-long Santorum react to that?

Anyhow, the issue isn't that "Gannon" is gay.

The issue is not that Gannon is a gay escort (although that's illegal in most states, and certainly opens the door to massive blackmail potential).

The issue is not whether "Gannon" is getting a free pass—hmmm, nice alliteration with freeper, but let that go—because he's a Republican, though surely if he were a Democrat, and this was the Clinton White House, this would be headline material for the next year.

The issue is not even the usual Republican hypocrisy, sanctimony, and doublethink. Apparently, it's now entirely OK to be gay; that's part of "private life." OK, then why can't Gannon get married?

The issue is who made the decision to give "Gannon" the daily passes, day after day after day, when (a) using one name on a driver's license, and another name on the pass, had to be a red flag, (b) Congress wouldn't give him a pass, since he couldn't prove he was a journlist, yet (c) the White House is famously organized? Could it have been the newly annointed Czar of All Policy Unka Karl Himself?

I mean, ordinary citizens can't get into Bush rallies, because the Partei keeps a blacklist!

And we are expected to believe that "Gannon" got into the White House press room, and asked Bush questions, and nobody knew who (and what) he was?! I don't think so.


COOPER: Let me give you a chance just to respond to what you want to respond to. You had previously stated that you had registered a number of pornographic Web sites for a private client. That's what you had said publicly. You said the sites were never activated. A man now has talked to The Washington Post, who said that you had essentially paid him to create some Web sites for an escort service, and you are yourself offering yourself as an escort.

GANNON: Well, like I said, there's a lot of things being said about me out there. A lot of things that have nothing to do with the reporting I have done for the last two years.

"Said," forsooth. Americablog has the invoices and the screendumps. Too bad that didn't form the substance of Cooper's next question.


COOPER: This liberal group, Media Matters, which I'm sure you know well about. They have been very critical about you, really looked into this probably closer than just about anybody. They say that essentially, you are not a real reporter. And it's not even a question of being an advocate, that you have directly lifted large segments of your reports directly from White House press releases.

GANNON: All my stories were usually titled "White House Says," "President Bush Wants," and I relied on transcripts from the briefings, I relied on press releases that were sent to the press for the purpose of accurately portraying what the White House believed or wanted.

COOPER: But using the term "reporting" implies some sort of vetting, some sort of research, some sort of -- I mean, that's called faxing or Xeroxing, if you are just lifting transcripts and putting them into an article.

GANNON: If I am communicating to my readers exactly what the White House believes on any certain issue, that's reporting to them an unvarnished, unfiltered version of what they believe.

Beyond words. "Gannon" seems to think that a press release is the same thing as a news story. Of course, he's in good company. That's what the wingers actually think. It's even what Judith "Kneepads" Miller thinks (back)


GANNON: Well, I don't see it that way. But what was -- what's been done to me is far in excess of what has ever been done to any other journalist that I could remember. My life has been turned inside out and upside down. And, again, it makes us all wonder that if someone disagrees with you, that is now your personal life fair game? And I'm hoping that fair-minded people will stand up and say that what's been done to me is wrong, and that -- that people's personal lives have no impact on their ability to be a journalist, you know. Why should my past prevent me from having a future?

It doesn't. Think of David Brock; after being "blinded by the right," he started Media Matters. So, Brock made himself a future out of his past.

"Gannon" can do exactly the same thing. He can take a serious look at his actions, come clean about his dirty tricks past, and his paymasters. Instead, he goes on a PR offensive.

C'mon, Jeff. Confession is good for the soul!

NOTE It would be very interesting to know if blackmail—it wouldn't have to be very explicit—had anything to do with the mystery of Gannon's continued access. Personnaly, I'd think that a closeted married man would be the most vulnerable...

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