Sunday, February 20, 2005

The All Seeing Eye

If you haven't heard about the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert affair recently I would suggest doing a quick search on Google News or head over to to get the details of this most amazing story.

To summarize, Two years ago a clean-cut man named Jeff Gannon came to the White House press office and said he was a reporter for a website called Talon News. Rather then get a 'hard pass', which required an extensive FBI background check, he got a daily pass, which requires almost no background check.

Once in, he started to do what reporters often do; take notes, record statements by the press secretary and President and ask questions. But something was wrong. The pack knows its own and the press didn't like the scent of this guy. And those who watch such press events began to notice that Jim didn't ever ask the administration tough questions. Indeed, his questions were rather softball or just outright pro-Bush. The reports on the Talon "News" website were almost direct copies of White House press releases. Talon News it turned out, was owned by a minor Republican party member. Someone smelled a rat.

And that is when the All Seeing Eye of the Blog/Internet community began to focus on Jeff. And when that happens, there is no where to hide. It seems Jeff Gannon was really Jim Guckert. Jeff was an alias. His journalistic credentials also seemed suspect (read: almost nonexistent). His website was shown to be basically a propaganda machine. People started checking into Jim/Jeff to see what else he had been doing and found what some would call 'dirt'.

It seems that Jim had paid to have several websites made advertising his 'services'. These services pretty clearly spelled out that he was available as a male escort. Basically, a prostitute. He is listed in several other gay escort locator services as well.

Jim quit Talon News and has been trying to defend himself, but telling white lies and twisting words is harder to do when every word you say can be checked on and verified. For instance, he claimed he got the press pass because he met the criteria for a reporter. He worked for a 'regularly published' news outlet, Talon News. But he got the pass before Talon news produced one story, and the GOPUSA website that started Talon news can't be considered a news group, as its is clearly a Republican only website (hardly an impartial press entity).

At its ugliest, you could sum up the situation thusly; How does a gay prostitute using a fake name pass through security screens to join a public Q & A session with the leader of the free world? Equally sensational is the possibility, suggested by members of Congress and major news organizations, that the White House deliberately helped set up Guckert with credentials and privileged information.

The Conservatives are trying to fight back by pointing out how these "attack bloggers" are disseminating Guckerts dirty laundry, which has nothing to do with his job as a journalist.

This is where, for me, the situation splits into two issues. One is the story of Gannon the reporter/propagandist. Right now the All Seeing Eye is following the money. Who paid this guy? I wouldn't be surprised is he turns out to be yet another paid mouthpiece for the Bush administration. And THAT is an important story. The press is not there to serve at the behest of the President. When the administration has to pay to get favorable coverage of its policies, those policies ain't that good.

The second issue is Guckerts "past mistakes" as he calls them. (Oddly, these websites and profiles aren't years old, they're still active today). The truth is that no one's life and past can survive microscopic analysis. No one can enter the political arena and come out squeaky clean. That's not the issue.

I don't view Jim Guckert as a bad person for being gay. And I personally don't have a serious problem with prostitution when it is entered into willingly. What angers me is that Guckert has worked for a conservative website that posts anti-gay stories. His party and the president campaigned on an anti-gay platform. This is a guy who doesn't practice what his ideology preaches. He doesn't seem to understand that his own people hate him. His own party wants to create a constitutional amendment to limit his rights. His own military (Guckert was a Marine) won't knowingly let him serve his country. And if his fellow Marines had known he was gay, he likely would have suffered terrible abuse at their hands.

Guckert hasn't spoken in his own defense about the gay prostitution issue. He is closeted and that part of his life may be something he views as a personal or moral flaw. Many gays suffer from self-loathing. It's too bad that he can't look to his fellow Republicans for any support or understanding.


Goodman said...

Is Guckert really in the closet though? It seems to me that the Gannon identity was needed because Guckert was so out of the closet.

And as Tom Tomorrow wrote:

If you're advertising a dodgy business on the web and someone finds out about it, it doesn't constitute "digging into your personal life"--key words here being "advertising" and "business." Not sure what part of that the right wingers fail to comprehend. Also, discussions of whether or not prostitution should be legal are completely irrelevant, just a further attempt to sidetrack the issue. Rightly or wrongly, prostitution is illegal, and if G/G was running an escort service, that means he was publicly advertising his criminal activity, apparently while also being granted access to the White House...

Steve said...

It's hard to take the conservatives outrage seriously. Although Guckert didn't use "gay escort" on his press application, he certainly wasn't hiding himself or his services. This isn't really private information that's being reported here.

And the claim by some wingnite that he could still work as a white house reporter is absurd. Of course, this might be a great opportunity for someone to try.