Jeff Gannon

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This article is part of the SourceWatch coverage of Jeff Gannon (James Dale Guckert)
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"Jeff Gannon" is the pseudonym used by James Dale Guckert, unmasked in February 2005 by John Aravosis's AMERICAblog.org Blogspot and Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group based in Washington, DC, to be a fake White House "correspondent" working for the pseudo news organization Talon News, which is closely tied to GOPUSA, a right-wing site owned by a Texas-based Republican activist.

Gannon had access to the White House and was admitted to the White House press briefing room on day press passes for almost two years. He was recognized for editorializing before asking "softball" questions of the White House press staff and, even on occasion, of President George W. Bush, to break up lines of aggressive questioning by legitimate reporters, thereby assisting the staff in controlling press conferences.

Summary

Investigation has followed at a feverish pace by blogspots Media Matters for America, Daily Kos, The Raw Story, Crooks and Liars, Media Citizen, Editor & Publisher, and other bloggers, as well as interviews with Gannon on CNN and MSNBC and through other media outlets, which discovered that, among other things, "Jeff Gannon"

  • has no media experience other than a two-day training course at The Leadership Institute's Broadcast School of Journalism
  • was denied media credentials April 7, 2004, by the "Standing Committee of Correspondents, the press body that oversees the distribution of credentials on Capitol Hill"
  • was not working for a recognized media outlet
  • had access to the White House press briefing room before Talon News was operational
  • operates an online male escort service [1]
  • had a career as a $200-an-hour escort [2]. A particularly indiscreet aspect was that he used the same pseudonym for both his "escort" work and his "journalist" work!
  • posed nude in photos discovered on numerous gay web sites, including MaleCorps.com, WorkingBoys.net and MeetLocalMen.com [3][4]
  • owns several male gay porn websites, including military-themed escort domain names [5]
  • had access to the Valerie Plame CIA memo
  • raises questions about posing a security risk as he somehow bypassed both Secret Service and FBI screening to access the White House press room
  • raises questions as to how he gained access to the White House press room when legitimate journalists cannot
  • is suspected of being a "plant" for Republican operative Karl Rove
  • is suspected of assisting the GOP to "attack" Democratic Senator Tom Daschle
  • knew about shock and awe attack on Iraq four hours before it happened [6]
  • bragged to Free Republic that he fed information to Sean Hannity on September 10, 2004, "about Mary Mapes which would discredit Dan Rather's sources on the National Guard story" [7]

For those to need to catch up, perhaps, see World O'Crap's version of "'Jeff Gannon / James Guckert' for Dummies," with links to other versions (February 23, 2005).

Current status

In June 2008, Editor & Publisher reported that Gannon / Guckert is an active member of the National Press Club. "Since 2006, Gannon ... has been a member in good standing and currently serves on two press club committees, according to the esteemed journalistic organization. He also blogs on the Press Club Web site, as well as on his own online page." [1]

"Press Club rules require that a new member be sponsored by at least two current members in good standing. Gannon said Rick Dunham, then with BusinessWeek and now a Houston Chronicle reporter, was one of his sponsors. He said he could not remember the other." Dunham said that he sponsored Gannon / Guckert because he wanted the Press Club "to expand our membership into blogging and multimedia." [1]

According to a May 2007 Washington Post column, Gannon / Guckert is now the spokesman for the International Bible Reading Association. "Let us pray for the power to understand how Gannon made his way from HotMilitaryStud.com to the International Bible Reading Association," Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote drily. [8]

Gannon blog

  • Gannonblog is back .. again! Accessed March 3, 2005.
  • Hoffmania! announced February 25, 2005, that "Guckert Halts Weblog Operation," "Citing 'nasty criticism of my new blog' and 'the resultent [sic] harm done to my freinds [sic] and family,' Jim 'Jeff Gannon' Guckert has ceased operating his new weblog after just a day of operation and has vowed to return to the web at a later date.
"The shutdown follows a pattern of behavior where the former White House reporter and still male prostitute withdraws from a web presence after just one day of bearing the brunt of opposition critics.
"This time, the decision came after repeated harsh words were bandied around the liberal blogosphere regarding the quality of Guckert's new venture."
"Yes, we know this is him because it's the same Web address he was using while working at Talon News, and he answers emails addressed to him at this address. We have other proof as well, this is him. He pulled his site after he resigned. He's now relaunched it, with a vengeance apparently. I can't imagine Karl Rove is very happy right now."
"I'm baaaaaaack! If you thought I was going to slink away - then you don't know much about me. Someone still has to battle the Left and now that I've emerged from the crucible, I'm stronger than before.
"Despite all the pleas from the Left to go over to the 'dark side' and expose the 'corrupt Bush administration' simply isn't going to happen. My faith and my ideology are rock solid.
"Still, the last few weeks have been difficult for my family and my associates. To them I offer my apology and gratitude for their support.
"In regard to the allegations about my personal life, I have been advised by my attorneys not to comment on any of the details pending the outcome of any possible legal action I might pursue. Therefore, I won't be discussing any of that stuff here."

Criticism

"One of the best, BEST, stories ever about GannonGuckertGate and what it means, and why it matters, comes from one of the most - MOST - conservative pro-Bush news sources on the Internet. This guy spells out exactly why this is a story. Exactly why this is so outrageous. And note, his column doesn't even criticize us, the liberal bloggers. It is pure and simple an article about how outrageous Gannon's and Talon's AND THE WHITE HOUSE'S actions were in this entire affair."
"Who knows why this symbiotic relationship succeeded for as long as it did? Perhaps Gannon-Guckert knew something about people in the Bush administration. Or, perhaps some inside the Bush administration knew the truth about Gannon-Guckert. We may never know the full truth.
"But the whole sordid affair illustrates just why a truly free and independent press is so vital to watchdogging government."

Connections

Rove-Gannon

Dotty, Lynch, "Rove-Gannon Connection?," CBS News, February 18, 2005:

"So when Jeff Gannon, White House 'reporter' for Talon 'News,' was unmasked last week, the leap to a possible Rove connection was unavoidable. Gannon says that he met Rove only once, at a White House Christmas party, and Gannon is kind of small potatoes for Rove at this point in his career.
"But Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the 'boy genius.' Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon."
"This week Democrats, who have serious case of Rove envy, went a little nuts and started sending around information and graphic pictures of Gannon and his porn Web sites. But it is the more routine part of Gannon's life that deserves serious scrutiny. Planting or even just sanctioning a political operative in the WH press room is a dangerous precedent and Karl Rove's hope to become a respected policymaker will be hampered if the dirty tricks from his political past are more apparent than his desire to spread liberty around the globe."

Liddy-Gannon

At the September 16-18, 2004, "GOPUSA Issues & Answers Conference" held in Washington, DC, the Friday, September 17th 3:30-4:15 Policy Session IV - Politics and the Media was moderated by G. Gordon Liddy, "Radio Talk Show Host and Former Presidential Advisor," and the panel consisted of (as stated):

  • Jeff Gannon, White House Correspondent, Talon News
  • Paul Rodriguez, Managing Editor, Insight Magazine
  • Peter Roff, National Political Analyst, UPI

Credentials

  • In his February 11, 2005, Media Citizen Blogspot article "Gannon's White House Maneuver," Tim Karr provided a link to Talon News' application on behalf of Guckert/Gannon to the "Standing Committee of Correspondents, the press body that oversees the distribution of credentials on Capitol Hill." According to the Committee's April 7, 2004, minutes, the application was unanimously denied. However:
1. The application clearly states that the "application [was] from James Guckert, who writes under the name Jeff Gannon, of Talon News."
2. The application provides a clue that, at the time of the application, Guckert/Gannon was not a full-time paid employee of Talon News:
As "... a stipend was arranged that would provide more than half of Mr. Guckerts income in an effort to comply with the gallery's requirement that correspondents be paid, full time employees of the organization for which they are applying."
3. The application states that "information [had] been requested about Mr. Guckert's role as executive director of the Free Speech Foundation in order to determine whether it would conflict with gallery rules regarding paid promotion, publicity, and advertising."
  • On the evening of February 17, 2005, the Daily Kos blogspot issued a request for distribution of the following press release, asking that "As Propagannon is being picked up by the national media, it is critical that we keep them focused on the important aspect of this: How did Guckert get access, and did he have anything to do with the Plame leak?"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Brian Kelly at nybri2@yahoo.com
Member, DailyKos.com
WHITE HOUSE SCRAMBLES TO EXPLAIN
FAKE REPORTER IN ITS PRESS CORPS
Feb.17, 2005 - Internet researchers have uncovered new evidence that contradicts the Bush Administration's claims about James Guckert, a Republican activist allegedly involved in criminal activities and linked to an incident involving a major breach of national security. Guckert, operating as "Jeff Gannon," was granted daily access to White House press briefings for more than two years as a "reporter" for Talon News.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan stated that Guckert was granted access in part because he was affiliated with a news organization that "publishes regularly." But yesterday, bloggers discovered video footage suggesting this standard was not applied to Guckert. Video footage of a Feb. 28, 2003 White House press briefing shows Guckert, apparently unaffiliated with any news organization, asking former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer a question. It is unclear why Guckert was granted any pass at this time, since the Internet-based Talon News did not register its domain name until March 29, 2003.
Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times, reported today she was denied press credentials at the start of the Bush administration in 2001. Yet Guckert, whose only journalistic training was derived from a $50 weekend seminar, was repeatedly granted access.
Despite calls from Congress for the White House to disclose its standards for entrance to the briefing room, the Bush administration has yet to reveal its credentialing standards or details surrounding the scandal, including: specific dates when Guckert was admitted to the briefing room, how many passes he was issued, as well as how he cleared a Secret Service background check while owing the state of Delaware over $20,000 in back taxes (penalties and interest) and possibly engaging in prostitution, as revealed by Americablog.org.
Guckert has also been implicated in a leak of federal classified information that revealed the identity of CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame. Revealing the identity of an undercover agent is a federal crime.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has insisted that President Bush will do anything he can to assist the Plame investigation. But the White House has not answered questions about the role of Guckert in the Plame investigation or his inexplicable access to White House Press Corps briefings.

Background

According to Free Republic, "Since June 23, 2003, ... Jeff Gannon is the Washington Bureau Chief and White House Correspondent for Talon News. www.talonnews.com ... He also hosts 'Jeff Gannon's Washington' on Rightalk."

Suzanne Goldenberg reported February 11, 2005, about Jeff Gannon, the"Fake reporter unmasked at White House," who at press briefings had a propensity to ask softball questions or questions that the White House desired to address.

The White House faced fresh accusations of a clandestine propaganda campaign yesterday after it emerged it granted regular access to a rightwing blogger with a habit of asking President Bush easy questions.

Gannon, who represented a rightwing site owned by a Texas-based Republican activist, had been a regular at White House briefings since 2003 but aroused reporters' suspicions after posing ideologically loaded questions.

Gannon, the fake White House correspondent, quit his job at the Talon News site on Wednesday after liberal bloggers found he had been operating under a pseudonym, and that he was linked to several gay pornographic web domain addresses under his real idenity, James Guckert.

And his use to the White House becomes clear:

"You could see there was a pattern in which the White House press secretary, Scott McLellan, would be getting a more aggressive and less friendly question, and then would seem to call on Jeff Gannon to change the subject. And when he did he got a softball question in return," Mr Brock said.
"The fake reporter's downfall came last week when he attracted suspicion with a particularly loaded question to the president on how he would enlist Democratic support for his U.S. Social Security reforms.
"After falsely attributing quotes to Democratic leaders, Gannon asked: 'How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?'"

On January 30, 2005, Susan G. posted "Plame Leaked by Fake News Source? Overview: Part IV" on the Daily Kos: "White House-credentialed fake news reporter 'Jeff Gannon' from fake news agency 'Talon News' was cited by the Washington Post as having the only access to an internal CIA memo that named Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA agent. Gannon, in a question posed to Wilson in an October 2003 interview, referred to the memo (to which no other news outlet had access, according to the Post). Gannon subsequently has been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury looking into the Plame outing."

Additionally, she writes: "Gannon has as many as seven websites (www.jeffgannon.com, www.theconservativeguy.com), all of which have the following registration information:

Bedrock Corp
4001 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807 US
Daniels, J. bedrockcorp@aol.com
4001 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807 US
202-547-8825

"The phone number returns to a Bill Turnley, 616 E. Capitol St. NE, Washington DC 20003 (one commenter found it also returned to a Sean Turner, who also writes for GOPUSA, which is another tie-in between GOPUSA and Talon News/Gannon). Turnley appears to be a professor in the business program at Kansas State University, and the property is registered with its owner as the Janice N. Hedges Trust. Hedges appears to be an author of several pieces regarding labor and management. ... [At the time, Susan G. wondered] if there could possibly be a tie-in with the Leadership Institute here since so many members of its board are involved in anti-labor/pro-management activities.

"The Bedrock Corp address seems to return to a Mailboxes Etc. dropbox in a mall."

Media Matters for America reports the only journalistic training Guckert has received, as posted on his bio since removed from Talon News, was a two-day training course at The Leadership Institute's Broadcast School of Journalism. The institute was founded by former Reagan White House staffer Morton C. Blackwell and funded by wealthy right-wing doners

Contact

  • URL: www.jeffgannon.com/

SourceWatch resources

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Joe Strupp, "Former WH Reporter Jeff Gannon Now a National Press Club Activist," Editor & Publisher, June 18, 2008.

Photos

Radio & audio

  • "'Jeff Gannon’s' Greatest Hits," The American Street, February 17, 2005.
  • David Folkenflik, "Conservative Reporter Resigns Amid Controversy," National Public Radio, February 9, 2005: "Gannon spoke with NPR's David Folkenflik the day before he resigned. He says he is open about his conservative point of view, but that he is just as valid a journalist as other reporters in the White House press corps." Audio link to interview with Gannon on page.

Parody & humor

On-going files