Daily Archives: February 9, 2005

The Art of Whoring

No sooner had the stories about right-wing closet queen Armstrong Williams and two other alleged “journalists” being paid by the White House to shill for the administration died down than the far gaudier “Jeff Gannon” affair arose, flamed up and flamed out, though it’s afterglow continues to smoulder and that’s not to mention a not easily abated stench.

LESLIE BLITZER: Welcome back.

There’s growing buzz here in Washington, as well as over on the Internet, about a White House reporter some say was acting on behalf of a conservative group.

Howard Kurtz of CNN’s “RELIABLE SOURCES” and “The Washington Post” joining us from “The Washington Post” newsroom.

What’s going on here, Howie?

HOWARD KURTZ, “RELIABLE SOURCES”: Well, Jeff Gannon is his name. At least that’s the name he uses professionally. It’s not his real name.

And he’s a reporter for a couple of online sites. He’s a self- described conservative journalist. One of the Web sites his work appears on is called GOPUSA. And he pretty much operated below the radar until he got the chance to ask President Bush a question two weeks ago. Let’s take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock-solid and there’s no crisis there. How are you going to work — you said you’re going to reach out to these people — how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Now, that question, Wolf, kind of put a target on Jeff Gannon’s back. A lot of liberal bloggers began digging into his background. In the last 24 hours, they’ve exposed his real name. They’ve raised questions about some sexually provocative Web addresses that he registered on one of his companies, but never actually did anything with.

“Never actaully did anything with”? How do you know, Howie? Is that what he told you?

Is that what your wife told you?

And Gannon has now resigned from the two Web sites that he was writing for.

LESLIE BLITZER: Is there any evidence that there’s a connection, that the White House put him up to this to throw these kind of questions whether to Scott McClellan or to the president? Any evidence of wrongdoing, first of all, on the part of the White House?

HOWARD KURTZ: No evidence whatsoever. I talked to Scott McClellan about this today, the White House spokesman. He said, first of all, President Bush didn’t know who Jeff Gannon was when he called on him at that news conference.

In other words, “no evidence that anyone at the White House has offered me.” A real reporter wouldn’t settle for what the White House has to say. A real reporter would get to work on this story. But then Howie Kurtz isn’t a real reporter. He’s a “Reliable Source.”

But McClellan knows who he is.

Really? He knows “Jef Gannon’s” real name?

He calls on him at White House briefings from time to time. He says that there are a lot of people in the White House press room who have strong opinions and sometimes put them into their questions and it’s not his job as the press secretary to be deciding who can get into the White House and who can’t based on their political views.

Gannon, by the way, says, sure, he’s very conservative. He makes no bones about that. But he thinks that a lot of the reporters in the White House press room are liberal, and he provides some balance.

And a lot of the reporters at the White House don’t sell their ass on the internet — so he provides balance on that score as well ?

LESLIE BLITZER: What’s the name of the organization, the news organization, he reported for. And what political connections did you discover may or may not exist to that news organization?

HOWARD KURTZ: Well, he writes for a site called Talon News, which appears to be kind of a straight news site. But all of the stories that he writes also appear on a site that’s called GOPUSA, which, as you might expect, is a conservative site. In fact, it’s motto is: We’re bringing the conservative message to America.

Operative word:”appear.” Does CNN “appear” to be a news organization?

And both of those sites are owned by a man named Bobby Eberle, who is a Texas Republican activist in the state of Texas. So the issue here isn’t really Jeff Gannon’s ideology. He’s the first to tell you that he comes at journalism from a conservative perspective. The issue I think is, should some of his liberal critics, these liberal bloggers, have started investigating his personal life in an effort to discredit him?

Doesn’t the fact that an alleged “reporter” operating under a pseudonym, and lobbing softballs at Scotty discredit him in and of itself? The internet whoring’s a a whole ‘nother ball game.

It’s fine to disagree with his politics, but did they go too far, I think a lot of people are asking, in dragging in some of this personal stuff?

Maybe there’s a blue cum-stained dress from the GAP at the bottom of all this. That would make it “impersonal,” right Howie?

LESLIE BLITZER: I used to be a White House correspondent for many years, sat through numerous briefings. There are plenty of journalists that wear their politics on their sleeve, liberals, conservatives. What’s wrong with journalists having these kind of views, being advocacy journalists, if you will?

HOWARD KURTZ: I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, as long as they make clear what their views are, as Jeff Gannon clearly did.

But he didn’t make claer that there is no “Jeff Gannon” did he Howie?

A lot of people are questioning, well, why does this guy have White House press credentials? Because he doesn’t write for a newspaper or magazine. Everything he writes is simply online. But in the age of blogging, that’s hardly unusual. And he doesn’t have a permanent — what’s called a hard pass. He just gets cleared into the White House on a day-to-day basis, which is a privilege that is pretty much open to any journalist.

Really? Can Duncan get one too?

So I think it’s absolutely fair game to critique his stories, to argue with what he writes, to question his views. And he does that to other members of the press as well. But what precipitated his resignation is that he says that on behalf — out of concern for his family

What “family”? Is he married like McGreevy? I tend to doubt it. Hustlers love married men as clients, but marriage would crimp their own style would it not?
Surprised these two didn’t ask someone who’s had experience with hustlers.

— and he told me last week that he had been threatened, that he had been stalked — this has gotten so personal that he felt he needed to step down as the White House correspondent for Talon News.

Really? Has he called the cops? How about the FBI?

LESLIE BLITZER: And it does come within the context of some of the other embarrassments, Armstrong Williams and some other issues, which we won’t get into right now.

Aw gee, Leslie — that would be the whole point, wouldn’t it? And don’t you want to take the spot light off that pic of “Jeff” in his tighty-whities?

But Howard Kurtz doing some digging, doing some reporting for us — thanks very much, Howard Kurtz.

HOWARD KURTZ: Thank you.

Thanks for nothing, Howie.

Well what do you expect? It’s “honor among whores” after all.

All three of them.