By Tim McGivern
The short, happy life of Jeff Gannon. Two weeks ago, "Thin Line" noted the shameful appearance of Jeff Gannon, Washington bureau chief for an outfit called Talon News, at President Bush's Jan. 26 press conference. While real reporters waited in vain, Gannon gained instant credibility when the president selected him.
The question was so absurd and the reporter so obscure that, since then, Internet bloggers, chronicled at www.dailykos.com, went to work and made some startling discoveries. For starters, Gannon's real name is James Dale "J.D." Guckert, and he was denied credentials by the congressional press office because he couldn't convince the review committee he was a legitimate journalist. This should have barred him from the White House, but instead he was given credentials and allowed in on a regular, daily basis, and called upon frequently by White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Although Talon News "is your source for unbiased news coverage and no-spin reporting," according to its website, "Gannon" it turns out reprinted GOP and White House press releases as news stories. Bloggers also discovered Talon's news room, which is owned by a pro-Bush outfit from Texas, is little more than a handful of volunteer Republican activists.
As of last week, following this admirable investigative work by bloggers while the neutered mainstream press sat silent, "Gannon" resigned from Talon and his bio and archived stories were removed from the website. The bloggers (see the Alibi's blog at www.alibi.com for links to these sites) discovered "Gannon" had no journalistic training or background other than a two-day, $50 seminar run by Morton Blackwell—a longtime Republican activist who co-founded the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority—at a place called Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism.
They also discovered a company owned by James D. Guckert that registered the website www.jeffgannon.com also owned Web domain names such as hotmilitarystud.com and militaryescorts.com. Once this was revealed, it didn't take long for the blogosphere to uncover an AOL page, where Guckert's pictured in his underwear and dog tags with a link to his "favorite men." Now, if Gannon/Guckert is gay, that's his business and none of mine, but Talon News printed dozens of anti-gay articles, many written by ... guess who.
Hypocrisy aside, James Pinkerton, a media critic for Fox News, who spent six years working for Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., told Salon.com, “It's inconceivable to me that the White House, especially after 9-11, gives credentials to people without doing a background check. If [Gannon] was walking around the White House with a pass that had a different name on it than his real name, that's pretty remarkable."
A reporter writing on the Poynter Institute's media forum page summed it up a little differently: "Having worked in the White House, I can assure everyone that not only would it be impossible to get a White House pass using an alias, it is impossible even to get past the gate for an appointment using an alias. Thorough FBI background checks are required for the former and a picture ID is necessary for the latter. Therefore, if Gannon was using an alias, White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover."
So Guckert was a pigeon for the White House—a phony reporter and a liar (he denied Gannon was an alias), who was trying to "mainstream" propaganda when called upon by the president. Evidence suggests he's connected to a gay prostitution ring, although he boasted about being an evangelical Christian on his website and wrote anti-gay articles. Oh, and the White House denied that Bush knew who “Gannon” was when he called on him. The blatant lies continue.
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