This tawdry tale would be amusingly juicy if it wasnt so scary. And slimy. Jeff Gannon, aka James Guckert, was repeatedly within ten feet of the President of the United States, yet no one in our faith-based White House seemed to know who he was.
Or did they?
It all started when Journalist Jeff (JJ) lobbed a softball question at a January 26 presidential press conference. You know...like those phony audience plants for Saturday Night Live guest monologues?
Shaking his head in disgust, JJ asked...
Senate Democrats have painted a very bleak picture of the US economy .How are you going to work---you said youre going to reach out to these people---how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?
The President as peacemaker. The President as victim. The President who works hard to reach across the aisle. It was a perfectly-phrased partisan question.
Inquiring minds want to know and that includes liberal bloggers. Who is JJ and where did he come from? Top bloggers DailyKos and Atrios investigated Mr. Gannons background. With a bit of Googling and what not, they unearthed a treasure trove of tidbits about JJ.
Here are the basics about escapade JJ. Bear in mind that new facts are still emerging. AmericaBlog reports today that JJ was photographed in early 2003 sporting a White House hard pass, implying he passed a Bush team background check.
- Feb 28, 2003 At a White House briefing, JJ asks Press Secretary Ari Fleischer a question. JJ is caught on C-Span camera that day in the White House briefing room. No one now seems to know what news outlet JJ was working for.
- Late March 2003 Talon News is formed right after the start of the War in Iraq. Talons volunteer staff has no journalism experience. Talons news consists of recycled RNC and White House press releases and stances. Talon has no subscribers.
Talon News is owned by GOPUSA, which is headed by Republican Texan Bobby Eberle.
- JJ is employed by Talon at its founding. JJ has made statements that Talon was his first journalism job.
- JJ is denied a Congressional press pass because he cant show that he writes for a valid news organization.
- JJ attends an early May 2003 White House press briefing. Ari Fleischer is Press Secretary, but he is absent that day. Staffer Scott McClellan was subbing for Ari.
- May 20, 2003 Ari Fleischer resigns as White House Press Secretary. He is replaced by Scott McClellan.
- May 2003 to Jan 2005 JJ attends White house press briefings, asking loaded questions. JJ is particularly remembered as instrumental in the 2004 defeat of South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle for reelection.
- Jan 26, 2005 The stupid question. Blogger research.
- Feb 10, 2005 Senator Frank Lautenberg writes a letter to McClellan demanding release of documents relating to JJs press credentials. Lautenberg, as Senate leader in exposing Bush manipulation of the media, asks how JJ passed muster for White House press credentials.
Turns out Journalist Jeff is proud of more than his writing skills. JJ owned and advertised his services as a gay escort on at least six websites with names as HotMilitaryStud.com, MeetLocalMen.com and WorkingBoys.net. The sites contained dozens of JJs photos in X-rated poses. JJs going rate as an escort was $200 a hour or $1,200 for a weekend.
JJ resigned his position with Talon News. No word if hes stepped down from his other endeavors. He has no comment on the racy websites.
The messy saga of Jeff Gannon/James Guckert has more loose ends than a plate of spaghetti, and some are intriguing.
- GOPUSA famously held a funeral for Clinton after Bushs first inauguration. Members of the funeral committee included conservative pundit Robert Novak, Judge Robert Bork, Rev Jerry Falwell, celebrity Pat Boone, Mormon activist Phyllis Schafly, and conservative blogger Lucianne Goldberg. (source DailyKos)
- After this story made headlines a week ago, the Talon website was completely cleaned of all photos and bios of its directors, staff and reporters. One of Talons main directors was associated with Enron. (Interestingly, Enron set-up a partnership in April 2000 named Talon.)
What does this sleazy episode mean? This is the sixth journalist in two months found to have a stealth, paid relationship with the RNC or Bush Administration. Those journalists all passed their reporting off to the public as indepedently objective. The Senate is probing each of these instances to determine if they constitute propaganda.
And Americans have fresh doubts as to the trustworthiness and reliability of mainstream media news and presidential press conferences.
One final thought .the word talon is defined in my dictionary as claw of a bird of prey.