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Thursday, February 24, 2005



I'm not going to spend a bunch of time as wide reciever on this one, but it's pretty evident you missed the point of this travesty. If your reaction to the White House dropping their normal rigorous credentialing of White House reporters to give unrestricted fast track to a partisan hack - who represents nothing more than a GOP faux-news website - is simply a yawn and the observation that they really should let more clowns like that into press conferneces in the interest of "access" (and at least they aren't any more corrupt than the Clintons! Oh, yeah, right!), I guess I'm just left here scratching my head.

No "rage-filled" response. Just disappointment. Do you really think that this guy - apparently a male escort who advertised himself on the web - could have passed a background check to get into Presidential press conferences if he wasn't a political plant. Of course, the real insult to our intelligence and the integrity of the White House press corps - miniscule as that integrity may be for a bunch of other reasons - isn't what he did on weekends, but what a journalistic fraud the guy was. Do you think this guy could have waltzed into the White House under a phony name and a fraudulent background if he was a Times reporter, much less a partisan plant for the Dems. (Frankly, the suggestion that anything this bogus and demeaning to journalistic standards would likely have transpired under Clinton's press people is bullshit and I think you know it.) If you can't get the teeniest bit exercised over the obvious attempt to use a psuedo-journalistic cover at the highest level of official access for partisan political purposes, what the hell was all of the brouhaha on your part over Dan Rather's hubris. No "yawn" there...but surely you didn't think that corporate news was primarily driven by anything other than hubris and a ratings game. Be it selective naivete or selective cynicism, you've wandered into this particular field with a wiffle ball. Duck...


richard lo cicero

Marc, I don't recall you yawning over Monica! No you and Arianna and the egregious Chris Hitchens were baying at Clinton's heels demanding he resign! Now we have a gay prostitute posing as a newsman for a GOP front group with ties to Texas cronies of Karl Rove and you yawn? Aside from the hypocacy of homophbic homos {and we know who they are!) what about the security implications. Maureen Dowd couldn't get a day pass but a rent boy could? Yeah, yawn!


ADDENDUM - "No one in the White House press room fell for Gannon’s ruse and no one – except Scott McClellan—paid any attention to his softball questions." Except, of course, President Bush.
Also - and I don't remember the reporter's name - I read recenlty in the context of this story the comment of an MSM WH press corps guy who was told by Gannon four hours before Bush's invasion speech that in exactly four hours Bush would go on TV and announce the invasion of Iraq, and that he was completely mystified by Gannon's fairly explicit foreknowledge of this - implying that the rot in this story runs pretty high and isn't simply the amusing tale of a kook or a clown who muddled his way through a few press conferences before he was caught. Apparently Gannon also had the Plame/CIA agent information before it was published.

Helen Thomas can't get called on to ask a question of the President...but this guy could and apparently had classified information before anyone else in the press room. For my money, this smells a lot worse than you make it out. While it was out-of-bounds for Billy Boy to be getting blow jobs in the Oval Office from an intern, personally I'm more offended when Bush is getting blow-job questions slung from a guy they must have known was a fake reporter on national TV. The fact that the "reporter" in question was apparently also available to administer the real thing just makes the cartoon whorishness of the story that much more putrid.

Green Dem

The only possible scandal here is the secret service's vetting process, which ought to have sent up a whole lotta red flags (hello! - he was using a *false* name) but apparently didn't.

The whole moral hypocrisy thing is another matter. One suspects that there is a great deal of that behind the curtains in this uber-pious white house (hell, there's enough of it on stage, front and center - what's Christian about slashing social services for the poor, and giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest?) but unless someone comes up with some compelling evidence suggesting rather strongly that they *knew* Gannon-Guckert loved to stay at the YMCA, there's really nothing here except the usual partisan sleaze.


Marc, not only is your post about the "issue" on the mark (to which I say, no pun intended as well as insert my own "yawn" here) but so far, the commenters here have produced a big "yawn" as well.

Marc Davidson

This whole episode shows the absolute disdain this administration has for the press, which should be the principle vehicle by which the public is informed. You can yawn if you want, but the erosion of accountability during the last four years should be at least unsettling.
Most members of the national press don't deserve much respect. And this is especially true of the White House press corps. But there is absolutely no excuse for the conduct of this bunch that has shamelessly lied, disinformed, and manipulated the public with no end in sight.


Marc, while Gannon and his laminated day pass may not be of a magnitude to bring down the empire, it is, as some of those above have said, a bit troubling---particularly if Jim/Jeff got a look at some document relating to Valerie Plame or got the Plame info leaked to him by Someone Of Relevance before Novak published it, as has been suggested. (I mean if the court is about to slam poor Matt Cooper and Annoying Judy into the hoosegow, can’t we lock His Buffness up too? Or instead?)

Jim/Jeff has thus far been coy with the Feds who want to know when he knew about Plame and how he knew it---but he’s such a 15-minutes-of-fame hound that he can’t friggin’ shut up. Thus he let slip to the folks Editor & Publisher that he’s got a wonderfully detailed journal about his White House days that he intends to turn into a book. (Ooops.) Naturally, there is a movement afoot to subpoena that puppy ASAP---as well there should be.

But, here’s where you’re absolutely right---whether this Gannon thing is really a yawn or something more ominous, namely one more canary croaking in the Bush-ruled political mineshaft, it’s unlikely to matter because---in the end, it will come to nothing.

As Hendrik Hertzberg put in the latest New Yorker.

“What all the memorable scandals of the past thirty years—real and fake alike, from Watergate to the Clinton impeachment—have had in common is that the opposition party controlled at least one house of Congress, which gave it the power to hold hearings and issue subpoenas. If Bush ends up having an easier time of it in his second term than any of his two-term predecessors since F.D.R., it won’t be because the scandals aren’t there. It’ll be because the tools to excavate them are under lock and key.”

Marc Davidson

Good thought, rosedog. Which makes one wonder what we would know today about Watergate had the opposition not controlled either house of Congress.

Marc Cooper

To all: Well.. I didnt say it wasnt sleazy and underhanded and partisan. I said it just doesnt amount to much of a scandal. There are plenty of other wingnuts who are credentialed as White House regulars who are not "real" journalists. (u need go no farther than the ubiquitous Les Kinsolving). And yes, as I have written on this blog-- the administration's overall disdain for the press is egregious and injurious to democracy. So in that conext-- who gives a fuck about Jeff Gannon and his a=hole questions. I also find it rather curious that Democrats and liberals should be jumping up and down over his sexual procilivities. I mean, literally, who gives a fuck? Or do you believe all reporters should pass a sexual background check?

To Mr. LoCicero (who seems to have captured the re-incarnated soul of poor departed 'steve'): You bet that I (and Arianna) were demanding that Clinton resign. The President of the U.S. using his office to be a serial sexual harrasser, trading sex for employment favors, lying to a court as a defendant in a sexual harrassment suit (under a law he signed by the way), subborning perjury from Monica... yeah. that seems like sufficient grounds to resign... just as Gannon should resign from the press corps. By the way, if Clinton had resigned in the summer of 1998-- or better-- if the gutless Gephardt Democrats had gone to him and demanded his resignation, George W. Bush would never have been president!
But I do not fret. Those of us who loathed Clinton and mocked the liberals who --excuse the pun-- went down with him are bye and bye about to get our vindication... i.e. in November 2008 when Ms Clinton loses for President and takes the remainder of you with her. I can hardly wait!


somewhat related: does anybody really believe Rove & co. didn't approve the release of these tapes beforehand? after the threats to anyone not playing the good, loyal soldier in this admin, are you seriously believing that they didn't bless this entire thing?

once again, reporters/journalists simply lapping and slurping uncritically from the hands that continue to slap them from the right and stroke them from the left.


Whether you think the whole deal's Gannongate or Yawngate, I recommend reading Keith Olbermann’s rundown on Jim/Jeff's intentions of suing everyone who's ever dissed him. Here’s the link, but you have to scroll down to Feb. 20.


Maybe I’ve just gone round the bend with post-deluge giddiness, but Olbermann’s long, annoyed riff had me giggling to the point that my kid came in and required an explanation.


" I also find it rather curious that Democrats and liberals should be jumping up and down over his sexual procilivities. I mean, literally, who gives a fuck? Or do you believe all reporters should pass a sexual background check?"

The point isn't a sexual background check...the point is that, particularly in a post-911 security environment, this guy using a completely false identity obviously couldn't have passed ANY background check if the fix hadn't been put in for him by...who ? The gay escort issue is totally fair insofar as it exposes the naked (!) hypocrisy oozing from this story since Gannon apparently was a "press" conduit for stories parroting the GOP on anti-gay issues. Not a low blow (!) to nail phonies whose secret lives amd conduct run rather blatantly counter to their public rhetoric and persona. As an eager and obsessive Clintonphobe prematurely savoring the possiblities for Hillary's humiliation in 2008 - the country be damned - surely you can understand the essentials of that position.

(Also being a male "escort" isn't simply a question of one's sexual preference. I dare say that if a NYTimes reporter who sat in on Presidential press conferences and daily White House briefings turned out to have a phony identity and no journalistic experience, had been mentored and paid by several overtly partisan Democratic organizations, bizarrely advertised escort services on a website featuring nude pictures of himself, and had clearly avoided Secret Service background checks to gain White House access with the help of Clinton aides, folks on GMR's side of the fence wouldn't simply be yawning or asking that we put the pettiness behind us and get on to more substantive issues. I'd love for one of our pro-GOP friends to weigh in, claiming that I'm wrong on that one, but I'm certain they won't for the obvious reasons.)

And, frankly, you're making a false comparison between vetting (planting?) of coveted spots for the official White House press corp with routine VIP favoritism in sending friends to the head of the line for low-level government jobs. I'm not really much more shocked by any of this than you are, marc, because my opinion of this White House is the lowest in my memory - and I've had some pretty rock-bottom opinions and never any that I'd call particularly high - but I think we're stupid of all we can muster is a cynical yawn and mutter about Clinton and not being able to wait for Hillary's humiliation three years hence when confronted with this crap.

My last word...I'm pretty sure.

too many steves

You know, I'm with Marc, I can't get too worked up about this guy in the sense that it is just more of the same. I can't say if Bush is worse than Clinton who was worse than Bush who was worse than Reagan who was worse than Carter...

I came of age, in terms of maturity and political awareness during Nixon's first term. Tricky Dick, they called him. I'm used to, which is to say "accustomed to", political folks from the President on down doing everything legally allowed to manipulate and "spin" the message and the journalistic coverage. They meet with who they want, they answer only the questions they approve in advance, they make sure the lighting and makeup and such are just right. Do I remember correctly that Ross Perot, being significantly shorter than Bush I and Clinton, made sure he had a step stool at his podium in the debates to make sure he looked to be similar in physical stature? Or was that Michael Dukakis?

So my YAWN comes not from not caring but from the point of view of how is this different, really?


Overall, I think this whole thing is a huge yawn, except for one thing.

Imagine this:

Gay escort with connected to fake news site inexplicably gets press credentials to white house and lobs softball questions at BIll Clinton.

Imagine the response from the right-wingnuts if THAT was what happened.


Guys. What is this nonsense about the Jeff Gannon issue being no worse than things done by Clinton or Reagan. The actions of Bill and Ron engendered full out, wall-to-wall, scandals and, in the case of Clinton--- since Bill lied under oath after being backed into the deal by Kevin Starr run amok---a near impeachment conviction.

The Bush administration isn't trying to circumvent the press. These fools are trying to reinvent it. This Jeff Gannon B.S. is yet another piece of a far larger, far uglier puzzle---from Armstrong Williams and beyond.

And, while we’re at it, a note to all the conservatives on this blog---people whom I like and respect---while you’re (rightly) lauding Marc for calling it for what it was with Clinton, you need to have the same willingness to look at what the current administration is doing with regard to the press. This should not be a Republican or Democratic issue. The Bush administration's insidious and multifaceted disdain for the fourth estate threatens everyone. EVERYONE. And so the absurd and entirely silly character of Jim/Jeff---who was inserted into the daily White House briefing for God only knows what reason, but who WAS inserted, let’s get real about it, by someone in a position of power---is one more peculiar symptom of this same profound and dangerous disregard for the role of the press in America….and that should alarm us. All of us.

Okay, I've overstayed. I'm outa here. (Hopefully. At least I'll try.)


Yes, another example of the utter disdain this administration shows for free inquiry and debate, but count me uninterested. I'm always a bit put off by the way these "scandals" play into the banal world of partisan hackery. So reg, lets just say I hear you, but to use your words I don't particularly like the packaging of this story. The political process is a messy and corrupt buisness on both sides of the aisle, and the righteyous anger that's eluciated from these sorts of stories is moslty vacous and hypocritical. For sure the ability of journalists to actually hold the admistrations feet to the fire is nil, but the lead up to the iraq war is a far better example of this then the gay escort story. Easily. I'm all for a advancing a broader discussion about how journalism tends to reinforce concensus and power generally, but count me out of "scandals" reeking of double standards and hackery. I'll leave that for the Paul Bengala's of the world.

ps. Marc as you've noted above, since Steve's departure many new posters have attempted to fill his shoes. All in my opinion have failed misreably. They've simply been poor man's Steve's, cheap immitations attempting to replace the truly irreplaceable. THis place hasn't been the same since he left. I 'm sure I speak for many here why i cry BRING BACK STEVE!!!!



You got too much common sense. And you still call yourself a leftist? :-)

Marc Davidson

THis place hasn't been the same since he left. I 'm sure I speak for many here why i cry BRING BACK STEVE!!!!

I agree. There is clearly a hole left by his departure.

Marc, the fact that there is a sex scandal associated with this affair is perhaps a side show, the hypocricy of it not withstanding. However when a journalist with no press credentials slips into the White House, he is now fair game in the frenzy of finding out who this guy is. Where did he come from? What are his connections? The blogosphere is at its best and worst here. Obviously the sex stuff will make the headlines, but don't think that it ends there.
The problem is that there is so much out there that we tend to lose focus. This is definitely death (of democracy) by a thousand cuts.


"Please tell me what the scandal is here"---MC

Thank you for stating the totally obvious.I may(in fact,I DO)dis-agree with many of your opinions,but I must say that you make a sincere effort to THINK through each and every situation.Your refusal to merely take a partisan stand as the 'default'position is both laudatory and humbling.
Thanks again for trying to put this ridiculous 'scandal' into perspective.Were it not so sad(to witness the decline in 'objective' reasoning),it would be merely pathetic.

Jay Byrd

"I also find it rather curious that Democrats and liberals should be jumping up and down over his sexual procilivities. I mean, literally, who gives a fuck? Or do you believe all reporters should pass a sexual background check?"

No one is jumping up and down about his sexual proclivities, but rather his escort service and prostitution businesses -- public, not private activities. These weren't discovered through some witch hunt delving into his private life, but in an attempt to find out his name, which led to some funky internet domain names he had registered. What with that and the security issues and Plame and the Iraq war and his diaries and the fake Talon Newsservice, it really isn't hard to get this one. That you don't is consistent with your stance that you're the only person on the left who isn't an idiot. But on this matter, at least, you're wrong on both counts.


I am impressed by Mcclellans' willingness to be inclusive and show special attention to and give favors to gay reporters, that has something to say for itself. Thus far fundies are getting gay reporters affirmative action *and* social security privatization, though not in that order importance wise.

Anthony Nassar

I'm with Cooper on this one. I can't get excited about this scandal by imagining what the Right would do if the shoe were on the other foot. That's such an elaborate twist on the tu quoque fallacy, I haven't got the wit for it.

I know what I think of Bush. I also know what I thought of Clinton (Ricky Ray Rector, Monica Lewinsky, Marc Rich). I don't feel a need to rank them on a single, unified crappiness scale.

Brian Siano

I half-agree with Marc and Steve. The story of "Jeff Gannon" is hilarious, if only for the spectacle of a conservative being caught out for his wonderfully sordid business activities. And yeah, it does illustrate nearly everything that people have been saying here: the control of questions to the President, the willingness to let even prostitutes into the corridors of power as long as they're useful in a political sense, and alla that. (And the prospect that "Gannon" got in because he was shtupping someone in the White House is too good to believe.)

But the fun in the Gannon scandal is that it makes for really good theater. It is _not_ as nasty or as profound a scandal as others. In the grand scheme of things, the Gannon scandal doesn't rate next to the PATRIOT act, the prospect of a Bush-chosen Supreme Court, or any number of truly important scandals that _don't_ have the theater to make them fun.

So people, as much as we love a good spectacle, let's not kid ourselves that the Gannon scandal's going to lead to anything great or profound.


I have to agree with rosedog and reg, among others: I don't particularly care what the definition of "scandal" is, but I believe this incident is very alarming, and representative of a negative trend of manipulating/ignoring the press which should be criticized tirelessly. Jaded or not, I think that anyone who considers something approximating a functional and democratic press should be angry about this, REGARDLESS of political persuasion. And frankly, kneejerk rationalizations of this as something you could find in any administration is, at best, distracting--at worst, dishonest.


Whoops, I mean "considers ESSENTIAL something approximating a functional and democratic press".

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