Frank Gannon

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Born in Jamaica, New York (1943) and educated at Georgetown University (BS 1964) Frank Gannon extended his education at Oxford University and at the London School of Economics. During this time he says that he provided research for Randolph Churchill's multivolume biography of his father, Winston.

Gannon returned to America to work in advertising with J Walter Thompson (New York) and then applied for, and won a White House Intern Fellowship. [1] He served mainly under Donald Rumsfeld in the Nixon White House during the period 1971-1974 as both a general factotum and as an occasional speechwriter. During this period he hooked up with Diane Sawyer, (then an ex- Louisville Kentucky TV Weathergirl working as Administrator of the Press Office) and they set up house together. The relationship continued past the time when Richard Nixon resigned, and both Sawyer and Gannon accompanied Richard Nixon to San Clemente aboard Air Force One on August 9th 1974.

Gannon and Sawyer became close friends of Nixon during his period in exile, staying with him when he was hospitalised with severe phlebitis and spending many hours at his bedside. They jointly organised the researching and writing of the President’s memoirs, 'RN', which was published in 1978.

After completion of the autobiography, Sawyer shifted back to Washington to work for CBS on the morning show and Gannon worked for some time as an aide to Senator John Heinz (R-PA). He then embraced the New Right faction of the Republicans, and became a conservative fund-raiser at Viguerie & Associates. Viguerie was the king of direct-mail fund raisers, and a founder of the neo-libertarian/neo-con group that were in the process of taking over the Republican party.

In his 1980 book, "The New Right: We're Ready to Lead" Richard Viguerie had written:

"It's not that the media presents the news in a partisan way, it's that they present the positive side of liberal causes, liberal issues, liberal personalities and, for the most part, ignore conservative causes, conservative issues, and conservative personalities, or present them in an unfavorable manner. However, there is one method of mass commercial communication that the liberals do not control - direct mail .... You can think of direct mail as our TV, radio, daily newspaper and weekly newsmagazine."

Of course it helped enormously that Viguerie's company also published the Conservative Digest with its extensive mailing lists. And by using these new networks, the New Right faction promoted populist themes like protectionism, immigration control, national voter initiatives, popular reconfirmation of Judges, and political control of the Federal Reserve -- all with an anti-centralist/Federal slant. Behind the scenes, Gannon was also working for the Republican National Committee through Senator Bob Dole.

In 1982 Gannon began to work for the David Letterman Show, and also set up his own business producing video news releases (VNRs). The idea of using CNRs, videotaped memoirs and record press-releases was an attempt to do with the new electronics and the local radio and TV stations, what Viguerie had done with print and direct mail.

His first major video client was Nixon himself. The ex-President wished to counter the negativity exposed in his interviews with the UK journalist David Frost and to put on record his own interpretation of events using a sympathetic interviewer.

Gannon conducted many hours of videotaped history recordings with Nixon, some of which proved to be far too frank to be generally released. They met for 10 recording sessions and recorded 38 hours of tape over an eight month period in 1982-83. Cannon's tape, with Nixon's supervision, was eventually cut down to 90 minutes and it finally aired on CBS in April 1984. (Note: The recent Frost/Nixon feature film briefly features both Gannon and Sawyer in one scene).

Tobacco lobbyist

In 1985 Gannon's video business failed and he was contracted as the editor of the Saturday Review magazine by Philip Morris. The company lead the industry in a secret take over of the magazine and was trying to revive it under the leadership of a Republican lobbyist, Paul G Dietrich. This didn't work out, however, and in 1985 the magazine was sold to porn magazine publisher Bob Cipollone.

Gannon and the production team then served out their contracts at Philip Morris producing a glossy give-away magazine called The Philip Morris Magazine [2] which carried a few general stories mixed up with the pro-tobacco propaganda. He was also an attendee at Philip Morris' June 1987 Operation Downunder Conference, held to determine a new corporate strategy for dealing with declining profits due to the environmental tobacco smoke issue.

He also continued to act as segment producer for the David Letterman Live program.

President Reagan reward his loyalty to Richard Nixon by making him a member of the National Conference on Library and Information Services. [However it is doubtful that he is the same Frank Gannon that Reagan tried to install at the head of the Inter-American Foundation. Noted in the IAF section]

Gannon now runs the Nixon fan club's webs sites, The New Nixon, at and the Richard Nixon Foundation blog at

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