Saturday, February 19, 2005
Weekend Art Show
While I love the majesty of Billmon's work, Tild~ is an absolute tart.
Looks like the MSM is
finally going to work
According to John Byrne at Raw Story:
Looks like those intrepid reporters may be stepping up to the plate afterall. Hunter at DailyKos adds,
A broad array of mainstream publications and television networks are aggressively pursuing various angles of the burgeoning scandal surrounding discredited White House reporter Jeff Gannon, RAW STORY has learned.
Washington sources tell RAW STORY that calls are flying around the District as much of the mainstream press seeks to catch up with online reporting–including some from such prestigious magazines as The New Yorker.
The wire services have also begun digging, sources say, which could place the Gannon scandal in hundreds of smaller newspapers across America.
If true, we can look for the first stories to hit tomorrow in the Sunday papers... those will probably be "catch-up" stories that introduce what bloggers have already been reporting, but break little new ground. After that, it will be a race for new information.Stay tuned. As several commenters over at AMERICAblog have reminded us, it took the Watergate story a little while to get rolling, too.
For weeks, bloggers have been chasing "Jeff Gannon" on the equivalent of an O.J.-style slow speed chase through Washington's corridors of power -- now, things might be heating up.
Where are the Investigative Reporters?
Writing at AMERICAblog, Joe in DC (did John change his name to Joe? Is Joe easier to pronounce?) is urging the Mainstream Media (MSM) to "follow the money" in the Gannongate (or whatever we end up calling this) scandal.
By invoking Deep Throat's famous advice to Watergate reporters Woodward and Bernstein, Joe serves to remind us of a time when journalists actually pounded the pavement, followed leads, talked to sources, looked at records, and, yes, followed the money.
Last night on CNN's 360, Anderson Cooper chided James Guckert/Jeff Gannon for not doing any actual journalism during his two years in the White House press corps:
GANNON: All my stories were usually titled "White House Says," "President Bush Wants," and I relied on transcripts from the briefings, I relied on press releases that were sent to the press for the purpose of accurately portraying what the White House believed or wanted.In fairness to Jim/Jeff, what he's been doing these past 2 years isn't all that different from what most of the national MSM has been doing. Ever since 9/11, the MSM has been more of a portal for BushCo talking points than anything else.
COOPER: But using the term "reporting" implies some sort of vetting, some sort of research, some sort of -- I mean, that's called faxing or Xeroxing, if you are just lifting transcripts and putting them into an article.
Journalism has been reduced to cutting and pasting. Look at the Guckert/Gannon story. There has been next to nothing in the MSM that didn't rely entirely on the research done by (to use that delightful term from Katrina vanden Heuvel) pajama-clad bloggers. The only reason this story has continued to have legs and get MSM attention is the collective, diligent work of bloggers and their commenters at sites like AMERICAblog, DailyKos, Eschaton, and The Raw Story.
But let's face it, most bloggers don't get paid to write. Reporters do. And when it comes to following the money, real news organizations have resources that don't exist in the blogosphere. They have researchers, video libraries, and attorneys who can file Freedom of Information Act requests. It's time for them to get off their butts, quit cutting and pasting, get out on the street and do some real work.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Guckert/Gannon on Anderson Cooper
In case you missed it, video clips are available at Crooks and Liars and Media Matters. I had better luck with the Crooks and Liars site.
Anderson Cooper did a pretty good job, asked the tough questions and stayed focused. Wolf Blitzer should have taken notes. He might have learned something about interviewing.
JG looked like a deer caught in the headlights, and certainly in shock that his life could turn to shit in a matter of a couple of weeks. While he probably succeeded in portraying himself as a sympathetic victim of a liberal blogger feeding frenzy, he didn't come across as sufficiently bright or articulate to be a working journalist in the White House press corps.
His big complaint was the way his private life had been laid bare for all to see. But let's face it, that one is pretty hard to buy. When you're peddling your ass (and other body parts) all over the internets, you really shouldn't be surprised when people find you there.
Gannon got first press passes
while working for a GOPUSA
According to Editor & Publisher, the White House started giving Jeff Gannon his Press Corps day passes while he was working for GOPUSA, the right-wing propaganda machine operated out of Texas by Bobby Eberle.
Former Talon News reporter James Guckert obtained his first White House press credentials as a representative of the pro-Republican Web site, GOPUSA, not as a Talon News reporter, as previously believed, Press Secretary Scott McClellan told E&P today.Yeah, I be Scotty said that with a straight face, too.
McClellan said White House Press Office staffers considered the openly partisan site to be a legitimate news organization when they gave Guckert, a.k.a. Jeff Gannon, the first of numerous day passes in February 2003.
Crimes and Sweetheart Deals
Lots of people are wondering today just how James Guckert/Jeff Gannon got so much White House access so fast. And given reports today about Gannon leaking national security information, there are questions about whether this is just another case of the White House shamelessly using the media to manipulate public opinion, or whether there is actual criminal activity involved.
A fascinating piece in the Nashua Advocate takes a look at those questions. Here's a portion:
Imagine it for a moment, that call, from a Texas Republican big-wig to a former Texas-dwelling Republican, now White House Press Secretary:Read it all.
"Scott, I'm sending over a man from my new news agency to get a daily pass. His name's James Guckert. Goes by the nickname 'bulldog,' maybe you know him?"
"No, Bob, can't say that I do. But...I'll see what I can do for you."
It's the perfect situation.
Nobody gets hurt.
Nobody has to say anything they can later be quoted on.
Everyone just knows.
That's all Eberle would have to say. And it would be a done deal.
Did Scott McClellan sleep with James Guckert? In the most secretive -- but also security-conscious -- presidential administration in the history of the country (Nixon's included), is there any better or more graceful (as it were) explanation for Gannongate than this?
Any better explanation for how a prostitute who lied about his name and his professional credentials enjoyed the most meteoric rise to journalistic prominence in perhaps the history of journalism -- six days flat from total zero to White House correspondent?
Nobody knows the truth.
Snarky Quote of the Day
From Wayne Besen at the Falls Church New Press:
. . . Guckert sold himself on these websites for $200 an hour, or $1,200 a weekend. Having seen his picture, Guckert – a poor man’s Mr. Clean - is guilty not just of impropriety, but overcharging.
I don't always get Fafblog. But when I read
yo mama's so fat by the time she bends over it's Daylight Savings TimeI was ROTFLMAO.
Thanks to Atrios.
News Producer says:
Gannon Leaked Shock and Awe
John at AMERICAblog has been told by a producer for a major news network that Jeff Gannon
. . . specifically told them that in four hours the president was going to be making a speech to the nation announcing the "shock and awe" campaign had begun. The producer told me they were surprised that Gannon, working with such a small news outfit, could have access to such information, but "what did you know, he was right," the producer said today. The producer went on to say that Gannon often had correct scoops on major stories, including information about Mary Mapes and the Dan Rather BUSH/AWOL scandal that this news outlet got from Gannon before any had the information publicly.Go read the rest at AMERICAblog. This raises even more questions about what sort of access Gannon/Guckert had to White House officials. For a reporter of questionable credentials who was getting into the White House press room on a series of day passes, he certainly seemed to be on the receiving end lots of sensitive information.
Second Class Soldiers
Via Suburban Guerrilla:
WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of Army Reserve and National Guard troops returning home after being wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone months without pay or medical benefits they were entitled to receive, military officials and government auditors said Thursday.This is what you get from the civilian leadership in the Pentagon that makes plans based on rose-colored best-case scenarios. It never occurred to them that the war might go badly, creating thousands of casualties that the military's health care system was ill-prepared to handle.
Because of a bureaucratic mistake, about 1,000 reservists and Guard members were removed from the active-duty rolls once home, even though their wounds entitled them to extended care, according to a Government Accountability Office study released Thursday.
[. . .]
Defense officials and the GAO blamed the wartime crush of wounded part-time troops for overburdening a military health system that has not seen such an onslaught since World War II.
Way to support the troops, Rummy.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
The Answer to the MSM Question
The next time some media idiot asks if they need to be afraid of bloggers invading their personal life, ask them this simple question:
Are you peddling your ass on the internet, too?Thanks to AMERICAblog commenter Joshua Norton.
Keith Olbermann's on Top of It
(so to speak)
Guckert's presence in the White House briefing room before the creation of his pseudo-news organization changes the entire dynamic of the controversy. It fully expands it from mere concern over the nature of his questions and the legitimacy of his credentials, to the process by which he got there in the first place. Somebody admitted him, to the White House, as a reporter named Jeff Gannon — even though he wasn’t Jeff Gannon, he wasn’t a reporter, and he wasn't representing any media outlet.Good points, Keith. I hate to say it but, MoDo probably isn't willing to service anyone on the White House staff.
Current White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has insisted that Guckert was entitled to a so-called "day pass" just as any other 'regularly published' reporter was, and that he did not decide who merited passes and who didn't. But today, a New York Times columnist said that her press credentials were revoked in 2001 after 15 years. Maureen Dowd writes:"I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the 'Barberini Faun' is credentialed... At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed... no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass — after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months."Perhaps next time Ms. Dowd should use an alias. Or get her questions from a former delegate to a political convention.
We don't know yet if that is how Mr. Gannon got his credentials.
Stepping Up to the Plate
Maybe the MSM is getting a clue
Looks like more news outlets are covering the JG - White House scandal. In addition to Sindey Blumenthal (referenced below), we've noticed a few more (though nobody seems to be doing any actual research on this outside of left blogistan):
From the Austin Chronicle:
But he was able to get a day pass from the White House press office (which apparently had no problem with the pseudonym), leaving the distinct impression that any old Joe Bob with a Web site could get a White House press pass, as long as his site displayed a red, white, and blue graphics scheme and a willingness to run White House press releases as "news."The Nation:
It started with loyalty oaths at Bush campaign events, which turned town hall meetings into infomercials. This proved so successful they've exported the strategy. When Condi met with a group of French intellectuals, their questions were pre-screened for anti-Bush bias. (It was presumably a rather short Q&A session.)I love it when she mentions my pajamas.
Then we discovered the Bush Administration was using taxpayer dollars to buy the fourth estate and turn it into a dude ranch. Armstrong Williams was paid a quarter million to pimp for No Child Left Behind. Maggie Gallagher and Mike McManus, who should talk to Armstrong's agent, were paid considerably less to hold forth on the gay marriage amendment.
And now we've learned that a Texas Republican set up a fake news website and hired The Journalist That Dare Not Speak His Real Name (James Dale Guckert, aka James Gannon) to infiltrate the White House Press Corp and lob friendly questions. He infamously asked President Bush how he could work with Democrats who had "divorced themselves from reality."
It was at this point that pajama-clad bloggers, armed only with their Google search engines, uncovered that Gannon not only had a secret identity but also had gained access to classified documents that named Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. (Some connections to gay prostitution websites which Guckert-Gannon was involved in were also turned up.)
And something a bit more provocative from the Nashau News:
Lots of interesting discussions going on in the comments at both Kos and AMERICAblog. This has become a real team effort. Still plenty of fun to be had. Feel free to join in.
According to a fully-sourced entry on the Daily Kos website, Gannon/Guckert may have been in the White House press corps even before his "hiring" by Talon News (in fact, Progressive Trail has detailed that Gannon/Guckert was originally a "volunteer" for Talon News, and had to receive a special payment structure from TN in order to qualify for the White House press corps).
If true, this contradicts what Scott McClellan has said about Gannongate -- specifically, that Jeff Gannon got into the White House through Talon News -- but dovetails beautifully with The Advocate's as yet unproven theory of Gannongate.
Did fellow Texas Republican and possible Bush acquaintance Bobby Eberle create Talon News as a front for a gay prostitute already stationed in the White House without the proper press credentials?
The Sorry State of the MSM
and the Secretary of Defense
Quote of the Day from Sidney Blumenthal, writing in Salon.com:
The problem is not that the White House press secretary cannot distinguish who is or is not a journalist; it is that there are no journalists, just the gaming of the system for the concentration of power.Or perhaps some of you will like this one better. Responding to a question about the number of insurgents in Iraq, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld said:
I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work.To which Kevin Drum adds:
We've suspected it all along.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
The Bedrock Chuckle
Some thoughts from a couple of Kossacks as to why Jeff Gannon called his company Bedrock Corporation.
1. The Flintstones lived in the town of Bedrock. The last line of The Flintstones theme song was "We'll have a gay old time."
2. Let's make the Bed Rock!
Sweet dreams, y'all.
Freepers Eat Their Own
Via Democratic Underground. Apparently Sean Hannity said that Free Republic had been taken over by "fringe people."
Imagine that! Needless to say, it has created a bit of a hissy fit among the Freeper devout.
UPDATE -- Thursday evening: That Colored Fella likes to stir things up at Freeper Central.
Before There was Talon News
Gannon was getting into press briefings
Atrios gets a tip that Jeff Gannon got to ask Ari Fleischer a quesiton in the White House on February 28, 2003.
That seems to be before Talon News (the "news organziation" for whom Gannon was a "reporter") existed (Talon's archives begin in April of 2003).
So, If Talon wasn't up and running yet, for whom was Gannon working on Feb. 28?
Kos has the screen capture of the video for those who need to see Jeff's pretty face one more time.
Scotty, you''ve got some 'splaining to do. Mean while, the Kossacks are on it in full force.
Keeping Death in the Closet
Suicide Conference Can't Mention LGBT in Title
Via Democratic Underground:
Government funders within the Bush Administration at SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) notified the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) that SAMHSA Administrator, Charles Curie, would not be allowed to attend a SPRC regional conference on suicide prevention if conference organizers went forward with a workshop title that included the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual", and "transgender". The conference is scheduled to take place in Portland, Oregon, February 28-March 2. The original title of the workshop was "Suicide Prevention Among Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender Individuals."I've had about all the compassion I can handle from the BushCo conservatives, thank you very much.
We're All Gay Now
Some wingnuts thought they'd be cute, created a fake on-line gay personal ad for a major lefty blogger, then did some serious research and found it.
Okay let's face it, creativity has never been their strong suit.
But Tild~ has the right idea. Tell them we're all gay, every last one of us. We're left of center, we love freedom, we hate fascism, we swing both ways and we like it.
Fuck 'em. They got nothin'.
Save the Koufax Awards
Help Wampum pay the Bandwidth Bill
Since I'm getting all these hits (bless you Avedon), I might as well do some good.
The folks at Wampum need a little (maybe a lot of) help to pay the bill for all the bandwidth they're using hosting the annual Koufax Awards.
Sisyphus Shrugged has put up a link to make it easy to throw a few coins into the hat. Go there and donate now!
If we don't take care of each other, nobody else will.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Where the Story is Bound
to Go From Here
Thanks to Tild~ for the link. And be sure and check out American Idle to see which contestant can toss Scotty the fattest softball.
Quote of the Day
The Right blogosphere sounds like a bunch of San Francisco ACLU liberals when the issue of Gannon comes up, and the smart thing for the left to do is ask the Christian right if they agree with their fellow "conservatives."Yep, it's time for those Republicans to have a little conversation with themselves about how they really feel about all those dog gone homosexuals in the White House.
Actually, I'm expecting the Bush administration to see if they can use that "bad apple" excuse one more time.
Where's the Main Stream Media
on the JG - White House story?
Wanda, who writes The Podunt Post (and a couple of other blogs, too), ask me where the main stream media (MSM) are on the James Guckert/Jeff Gannon story.
In fairness, both Salon and the Salt Lake Tribune had decent spreads on it today (thanks to Americablog for the links). As for the rest of the MSM, I think there are five reasons they aren't following this story (and doing some actual work on it, as opposed to just reporting what the blogs are saying):
1. They're owned by Bush supporters.Be that as it may, there is a story here. Actually there are several story lines that need to be followed.
2. They don't want to jeopardize their access to White House sources.
3. They think it's just about sex -- gay sex -- and they don't want that on the front page of their family newspapers (next to the killed and wounded in Iraq).
4. They don't want to give any credibility to the bloggers and their reader/commenters who did the acutal work on this story and put the pieces together.
5. Bill Clinton isn't the president anymore.
I'll put it out there for any MSM folks who have a shred of interest in doing real journalism. These are the questions you should be asking, and then following them wherever they take you:
1. Who decided that Talon News was a legitimate news organization, deserving 2 years of continuous press corps day passes for their designated "reporter" Jeff Gannon? What was the criteria for that decision? Was that same criteria applied to every "news organziation" that requested press corps accesss?Okay, if any of you MSM journalists want to ever be taken seriously again, here's your chance. Go for it.
2. Who in White House Security is responsible for screening reporters who request a "day pass?" Are there no background checks performed for "day pass" recipients, even those who receive continuous day passes for nearly 2 years?
3. How did Mr. Gannon learn the contents of classified CIA documents pertaining to the Valerie Plame case? Since Mr. Gannon says he has never seen the classified documents in question, who told him what information they contained?
4. Who are the clients of Mr. Gannon's professional services? Is there any connection between his performance of professional services, his White House access, and the information he acquired regarding the Plame case?
5. Why didn't anyone in the White House press corps think it was odd that Gannon continued to get daily White House access despite his lack of professional standing as a journalist?
UPDATE -- Wednesday morning: Howie has a half-decent (as opposed to indecent) column in the WaPo this morning. It is their 8th most emailed article in today's edition.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Gannon, Guckert, & Spence
Sex, Softballs, & a Sordid Tale
Americablog dropped a bomb shell today. Or maybe it's just the tip of the ice berg. Time will tell. Time, dozens of bloggers, and digging into a White House scandal that has echoes of similar revelations back when Poppy Bush was president.
Contrary to the story he's been telling the press, James Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, didn't just "set up some web sites for some people" a few years ago. He's the star of the show, pimping himself as a gay "military escort" on several web sites.
But that's not really a story. Everybody's hustlin' something. So why should we care?
Ask yourself this: Is the Secret Service really that stupid? This is a guy who couldn't get press credentials down the street at the Capital. Yet every day he was getting a "day pass" to be part of the White House press corps.
Now maybe he was living a double life. Maybe he just had a good rap, all full of Jesus and tax breaks and plant the flag of Democracy in the heart of the Arab world. Maybe those Texas GOP heavyweights for whom Talon News was just a propaganda front had no idea about Guckert/Gannon's secret military gay stud rental service on the side.
But ask yourself again: Is the Secret Service really that stupid?
Now take a minute or two and take a trip down the memory hole. Go over to Rigorous Intuition, and read the story of Craig Spence. In case you've forgotten, or maybe never knew, Spence reportedly was running a ring of boy prostitutes in DC back when Ronnie Reagan and then George H.W. Bush were president.
Spence was a conservative lobbyist during the Reagan-Bush years. The New York Times called him "Washington's ultimate power broker." He was also running a gay prostitution ring which employed adolescent boys. As perks of the job, he treated his boys to after-hour tours of the White House. In The Washington Times of August 9, 1989, Spence "hinted the tours were arranged by top level" persons, including Vice President Bush's National Security Advisor Donald Gregg, whose name also figures prominently in the October Surprise story. The paper added that "Spence, according to friends, was also carrying out homosexual blackmail operations for the CIA."It's an old scam: find somebody with a weakness for something illicit, in this case sex with young boys, set them up with what they want, then blackmail them forever.
But once the story broke, even though it was quickly buried, things didn't go that well for Spence. He was dead just a few months after reports of his DC sex ring hit the papers. His death was ruled a suicide. He had said that, when they took him out, they'd make it look like a suicide.
Guckert/Gannon started setting up his gay stud military escort web sites in the 1999 - 2000 time frame. That was before BushCo was in the White House. Perhaps it was sometime after the election, maybe sometime after 9/11, when somebody in the White House, some master of manipulation, saw a double use for Guckert/Gannon.
The administration was about to take America to war. The reasons for that war were dubious, even fictional. There were bound to be some tough press conferences.
Wouldn't it be great to have a ringer in the White House press corps? Somebody who would throw the president nothing but softballs. Somebody to give the Press Secretary a life line on those days when things turned ugly and he desperately needed somebody to change the subject and tone of the discussion.
But hey, why stop there? Wouldn't it be great if you had somebody who could feed you some of the capitol's nastiest little sex secrets? Wouldn't that be great? Think of the political leverage you would have if you knew which Washington insiders liked to have the occasional date with a gay military hunk.
What if you got all that in the same guy? What if you found the right wing stud muffin who was also a gay military escort? What if you gave him the chance of a lifetime? He could be part of the White House press corps, help out the administration when they really needed it, further the Christian conservative agenda, and still spend his evenings banging whatever well-placed gentlemen desired his services.
Sounds like exactly the sort of thing some very vicious and powerful White House overlord might dream up. Or, as some people speculate, somebody else, even more powerful, is pulling all the strings.
UPDATE -- Monday evening: Digby adds the perfect coda:
It is impossible to believe that the secret service and the FBI would allow a known prostitute to have access to the White House after 9/11. If they did, then our national security is in very deep shit. Come to think of it, it's also pretty scary that they didn't know.
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More Hot Gannon News
should break later today
John Aravosis at AMERICAblog says he has a big Gannon story he will post sometime today. Keep checking his site. Clearly this story has further to run.
UPDATE: John says he's almost done. While you're waiting, check out this fascinating thread at Democratic Underground.
Arithmetic is Hard Work
Quote of the Day from Michael Kinsley via Brad DeLong:
Bush might as well be proposing legislation that two plus two is five. And if that happened, there would be no shortage of Republicans prepared to endorse this view, experts on arithmetic to declare that it is a very difficult question, research to indicate that the answer may lie anywhere between 2.3 and 7.09, moderate Washington sages to urge caution, media to report both sides of the question, and media critics to accuse the media of a subtle bias in favor of two plus two is four.And no doubt the fundies will weigh in with something about all this two plus two stuff being a not-so-veiled attempt to interject the radical homosexual agenda into the classroom.
Of Biblical Marriage
and Blogging Anniversaries
I launched this blog one year ago today. So, since it's our anniversary (and Valentine's Day!), I thought I'd bring back a post from my first day on the blog.
Here, edited only slightly, is a reprint of The Big Push for Biblical Marriage. Enjoy.
Going back to the time of slavery in America, the religious right has shown no shame in picking and choosing scripture to support their political dogma. This was pointed out with great style on "The West Wing" a couple of seasons ago. Now that the issue of same-sex marriages is heating up, the religious right will use scripture to bash with all their might. That's why I found this little piece so amusing. Thanks to Christine for pointing me to The Common Good website.
The Presidential Prayer Team is currently urging us to: "Pray for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to Biblical principles. With any forces insisting on variant definitions of marriage, pray that God's Word and His standards will be honored by our government." This is true.There, now wasn't that better than a big red box full of chocolates?
Any good religious person believes prayer should be balanced by action. So here, in support of the Prayer Team's admirable goals, is a proposed Constitutional Amendment codifying marriage entirely on biblical principles:
A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)
C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)
F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)