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WH Reporter, Jeff Gannon: male prostitute
The Raw Story
HARD JOURNALISM
Real questions about Gannon
February, 2004

Over the past few weeks, quite the scandal has blown up around a "reporter' known for asking particularly Republican-friendly questions in the White House Press Room. The reporter, who went by the name of Jeff Gannon, is actually named James Guckert, and worked for an organization called Talon News. (For ease of identification, I will refer to him as "Gannon.') After Gannon was linked with several gay websites, he resigned from the notoriously anti-gay Talon, and many of his stories have been pulled from the site. The mess triggered issues that range across the political spectrum, from salacious details of his involvement with the gay escort business to questions of the White House's relationship with the press.

Over the past few weeks, quite the scandal has blown up around a "reporter' known for asking particularly Republican-friendly questions in the White House Press Room. The reporter, who went by the name of Jeff Gannon, is actually named James Guckert, and worked for an organization called Talon News. (For ease of identification, I will refer to him as "Gannon.') After Gannon was linked with several gay websites, he resigned from the notoriously anti-gay Talon, and many of his stories have been pulled from the site. The mess triggered issues that range across the political spectrum, from salacious details of his involvement with the gay escort business to questions of the White House's relationship to the press.

The first, and by far the most sensational, is the revelation that not only was Gannon connected with several websites for gay male escorts through his business (in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gannon insisted that he had merely been contracted as a software consultant for sites that never even made it online), but that Gannon was listed on several websites—MaleCorps.com, WorkingBoys.net, and MeetLocalMen.com—as a male escort himself, complete with prices and pictures. John Aravosis, of AmericaBlog.org, not only tracked down Gannon's profiles on such sites, but located (and linked to) dozens of photos of Gannon in various stages of undress from the profiles.

The question of whether a reporter's sex life, even as a prostitute, is really relevant to the main issues with the entire affair is a relatively easy one—clearly, the sexual life (or career) of a reporter isn't the business of the White House. But in this entertaining new twist on sexual scandal, after having endured years and millions of our taxpayer dollars down the drain of a special prosecutor's sexual witch-hunt those of us on the left side of the aisle cannot help but experience a frisson of schadenfreude.

A clearly more relevant concern with Gannon's status is how exactly a fake reporter with a false identity was able to obtain access to the White House Press Room. Virtually all reporters who regularly cover the President and administration obtain a "hard pass' to the White House. This essentially works like an employee pass in a particularly security-conscious office—they swipe their pass as they enter, and the Secret Service searches whatever bags they bring in. To achieve this status and convenience, the reporter must undergo a stringent security check: he or she must show that she works for a legitimate news organization, lives in the Washington metropolitan area, requires regular access to the White House to fulfill their reporting duties, and is accredited by the Standing Committee of Correspondents to cover Capitol Hill. After all of these requirements have been satisfied, the Secret Service performs a background check on the reporter, and only after the background check is completed does the reporter receive his or her hard pass to the White House.

The alternative to entering with a hard pass is using a day pass, which involves a much lower level of proof that the reporter works for a news organization and a very abbreviated security check (the applicant must only provide his or her name, social security number, and date of birth). Note that the requirement is only that one works for "a news organization,' not "a legitimate news organization'—the significance is illustrated nicely by Gannon's own circumstances. He did apply for a credential from the Standing Committee of Correspondents, the first step towards obtaining a hard pass, but after the organization noticed that the Talon was owned by Bobby Eberle, one of the owners of GOPUSA (an organization that is pretty much just what it sounds like, and which Gannon also wrote for), the committee asked for more information on the Talon to show that it was an independent news organization and not essentially a Republican press office. The Talon and Gannon never responded to the committee, so in absence of any such evidence, the committee denied Gannon's accreditation.

And so Gannon's daily visits to the White House utilized a day pass every time. There used to be a more official system of regular day passes, known as the "card index,' that was traditionally used by reporters covering a specific issue or reporters on a relatively short-term assignment to the White House. After September 11, however, the Secret Service decided that giving regular access to the White House with such an abbreviated security check was not safe, and discontinued the practice.

This is where the third and most serious issue connected with the Gannon mess comes into play. Why was Gannon, a person using a false identity and lacking the most rudimentary press credentials permitted to easily and regularly gain access to the White House Press Room? The Bush administration has demonstrated a profoundly disturbing commitment to blurring the lines between propaganda and objective news. This commitment goes completely beyond the White House's routine friendliness to reporters from Fox News or the Pax network—the administration has filmed press clips with actors and sent them out to news stations as legitimate reportage and paid commentators to argue for White House policy proposals without revealing that they were compensated to do so. Now, like con men using a ringer, the President's staff has enabled, if not endorsed, fake reporters taking up residence in the White House press pool to toss softball questions designed to make a press conference look like the O'Reilly Factor.

Consider some of Gannon's past questions, as recounted (and replayed) on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show:

May 10: "In your denunciations of the Abu Ghraib photos, you've used words like 'sickening,' 'disgusting' and 'reprehensible.' Will you have any adjectives left to adequately describe the pictures from Saddam's rape rooms and torture chambers? And will Americans ever see those images?'

July 15: "Doesn't Joe Wilson owe the President and America an apology for his deception and his own intelligence failure? "(Wilson asserted, and still does, that his wife Valerie Plame, exposed as a CIA operative by Bob Novak, was not responsible for his assignment to Niger to investigate the claims that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake enriched uranium from the country. It has been conclusively proven that Wilson's assessment that the rumors were unfounded was correct.)

And my personal favorite, from back in February: "Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?'

One expects to hear scripted drivel like that on a late night "informercial,' which is designed to delude insomniacs into purchasing useless products. One also expects that dictators like the monsters who head countries in the "axis of evil' will manipulate the media to create an illusion of news coverage that is in reality a tissue of lies. One doesn't expect the leader of the free world, the man who has promised to shine the light of freedom into all the dark recesses of tyranny (Uzbekistan, anyone?), to hire shills masquerading as reporters. Gannon couldn't get a regular press pass because he couldn't conceal that he worked for an explicitly Republican organization, yet he received special attention from the administration allowing him to treat the Secret Service's security check like his own personal coat check. Press Secretary Scott McClellan has acknowledged that Gannon was cleared for his perpetual day pass under his real name, and that McClellan himself knew that his real name was Guckert.

Filling the press pool seats with party operatives is not how the Fourth Estate is supposed to do its job, and ensuring that not even the Press Secretary has to answer anyone but ringers from his own party's extremist wing simply demonstrates one more time that this White House seems to have a congenital fear of ever having to interact with someone who doesn't carry a Republican membership card.

Commentary:
His porn website has been archived by bloggers (our new media) and he's clearly a male whore. He charged $200 a night or $1200 a weekend. At least sex in this WH was limited to only the illegal kinds.