The “Jeff Gannon” affair has been a mini-cause celebre on the liberal side of the blogosphere over the past several days, to the point where we have gotten several belligerent emails from lefties demanding to know why we aren’t covering the story. My response has been that I can’t figure out what the story is. “Gannon” wrote for the Talon news service and was occasionally cleared to participate in White House press briefings. He apparently is a conservative, and on some occasions he asked questions with a twist that was friendly to the administration.
The “scandal” that has erupted over the past few days involves the following elements: 1) “Jeff Gannon” isn’t his real name; it’s James Guckert; 2) Guckert is alleged to be a homosexual (Markos Moulitsos of the Daily Kos has made a big deal out of this); and 3) several gay porn sites are registered in Guckert’s name.
Gannon/Guckert has now resigned from Talon due to the attention.
The first actual news story I’ve seen on the Gannon affair is this AP report, which quotes Scott McClellan:
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Guckert did not have a regular White House press pass but was cleared on a day-by-day basis to attend briefings and used his real name.
“He, like anyone else, showed that he was representing a news organization that published regularly and so he was cleared two years ago to receive daily passes just like many others are,” McClellan said. “In this day and age, when you have a changing media, it’s not an easy issue to decide, to try to pick and choose who is a journalist. It gets into the issue of advocacy journalism. Where do you draw the line? There are a number of people who cross that line in the briefing room.”
I still don’t get it. Gannon has been attacked for not being a “real” journalist–as compared to whom, Helen Thomas? He called himself a “voice of the new media” on his web site, and it seems passing strange to me for bloggers to suggest that only journalism school graduates are qualified to ask questions at press briefings. As far as I can tell, the only thing that distinguished Gannon from the other reporters is that he is a partisan conservative, whereas they are nearly all partisan liberals. I’d be happy if the administration threw the whole lot of them out and took questions from people on the street.
Inasmuch as I still don’t see that there is much of a story here–apart, of course, from the somewhat entertaining strangeness of it all–I’ll stop writing now.