February 21, 2005
POLITICS: Closing Ranks
Instapundit links to this article by Joseph Curl of the Washington Times, which gets the reactions of three prominent White House correspondents to Daily Kos' destruction of James Guckert, a/k/a Jeff Gannon. To their credit, the reporters who are quoted recognize that reporters with an axe to grind aren't exactly a novelty:
"We all ask all kinds of questions; we all come to the briefing room with different points of view; we all serve different corporate masters," said Terry Moran of ABC News. "I don't know anything about Gannon's—or Guckert's—private life, and frequently he sounded like a shill for the administration. But he also challenged the White House from time to time with pointed questions—from the right. And that always struck me as valuable and necessary."
Moran's point is food for thought. Although Guckert's question to President Bush in the Jan. 26 press conference—about how Bush planned to work with Democrats "who seem to have divorced themselves from reality"—clearly crossed a line, the Talon News reporter occasionally held the president's feet to the fire. Guckert asked questions about GOP discontent over such issues as immigration, pressed the White House on conservative issues and drew out the administration's perspective on Democratic initiatives.
While many White House reporters oppose advocacy journalism in the briefing room, Moran vehemently objected to the course of action that led to Guckert's resignation.
"Whatever the ostensible rationale, it seems clear to me that Gannon's personal life was investigated and targeted by some bloggers because they did not like the ideas he expressed in his questions. That is chilling to me," he said.
John Roberts of CBS News agreed that "the liberal blogosphere"—not the White House press corps—drove the onslaught against Gannon. But he also said that Guckert's "presence at the daily briefing was not an issue with me."
"There are other people there with a clear agenda as well," he said.
Judy Keen, the sage White House correspondent for USA Today, closed the loop.
"Gannon—or whatever his name is—certainly isn't the only reporter whose point of view is reflected in their questions. Anyone who regularly attends the gaggles and briefings knows that there are other reporters there whose questions suggest a certain hostility toward the administration," she said.
Regular briefing attendees know that only too well. Helen Thomas, a former reporter turned columnist, despises Bush and once called him "the worst president in all of American history." Her daily rants come from the hard left, including this question during the lead-up to war in Iraq: "The president claims he's compassionate, but he's on the warpath against Iraq, Iran, North Korea, the Philippines, and this new report he would use nuclear weapons whenever he gets the urge. Is he trying for dictator?"
Of course, a major offense by Gannon in the question at issue, and of which Thomas has often been guilty, is speechifying - asking a question where the reporter is basically making a statement more than trying to elicit information.
It's not surprising, though, that White House reporters like Moran (formerly of the New Republic and one of the more open Bush antagonists) would be deeply appalled by the use of Guckert's sex life to drum him out of the business and publicly humiliate him; I'm sure every reporter can imagine how allies or foes of an administration could start using similar tactics against unfriendly reporters.
So working as a prostitute or procuring prostitutes constitutes a private sex life? Interesting definition.
No-one forced 'Gannon' to stop working. They just put together information that was already in the public domain - like a website. (Actually, the first information that came out was the links to the GOP - not any sex stuff.) It's up to the White House whether or not to continue to authorize the guy.
In what sense is the following claim even remotely true: "Daily Kos destroyed Guckert"? The guy is still alive and can still publish on his website if he wants to. No libel or even invasion of privacy has been committed.
"I'm sure every reporter can imagine how allies or foes of an administration could start using similar tactics against unfriendly reporters."
I totally agree. Considering I am not a prostitute, nor do I have direct financial ties to the Republican Party, I cross my fingers and say my prayers every night that I don't lose my White House press pass.
Crank -- I continue to be amazed at the "Kos destroyed Gannon" meme. In particular, how does "outing" a man running a public sex-for-hire service "ruin" him? This was, at the very least, a risk he should have known about. I mean, seriously, you say that as though any gay man working in the service of the Republicans doesn't at least smell of if not completely immerse himself in hypocrisy.
1. No, I'll grant that the prostitution stuff is not private - it certainly wouldn't be if he was a public official - although pasting the naked pictures of the guy on the web is a bit much. But you can easily see how this would be a horifying precedent for White House correspondents, and the endless wallowing in the whole "oooooh, he's gay" angle is just seedy.
2. C'mon, in the real world we know that the guy's career has been ruined by this; justify that, don't deny it.
3. Rob makes explicit the "there's no gay rights for gays on the right" point better than I could hope to summarize it.
>>endless wallowing in the whole "oooooh, he's gay" angle is just seedy<<
Here's the problem with that synopsis: it's inaccurate. It's not, "oooooh, he's gay", it's "ooooh, he's gay and Republican". Seriously. When the Bush administration is busy trying to deny the existence of homosexuals, one wonders what other disappearing tricks are likely.
>>Rob makes explicit the "there's no gay rights for gays on the right" point better than I could hope to summarize it.<<
Crank, you're putting words in my mouth here, or at least, I think you are. Are you seriously suggesting that I think there are no gay rights for conservative gays? That's not what I said; it's more that the Log Cabin Republicans have so little pull within the GOP they may as well not exist. Given the party's apparent takeover by evangelical Christians who are overtly hostile to the mere presence of homosexuality, any gay person working to assist the Republican party thereby opens themselves to charges of hypocrisy, duplicitousness, or worse.
1.) "I'll grant that the prostitution stuff is not private - it certainly wouldn't be if he was a public official - although pasting the naked pictures of the guy on the web is a bit much."
I agree it's a bit much, as I am not into gay whores. But GANNON put pictures of himself up. No one "posted" pictures of him. They just linked to currently active sites! You have your facts plain wrong.
2.) His career as a "reporter" is ruined, yes. But it's a career that never existed. He was not a qualified reporter and he had no credentials. A lot of his articles he just cut and pasted from WH press releases.
And the reason this whole business started is because he asked a question that was full of lies, recycled from Rush Limbaugh. So yes, his career of being a complete phony is over. This is a good thing. People like him hurt the democratic process. You should be praising his dismissal, not feeling sorry for him.