Republican non-journalist planted at White House press conferences?

From the Boston Globe, February 2, 2005,

What do you think? Is this guy just a fringe conservative blogger who likes to attend White House press briefings, or is he an Administration plant in the WH Press Corp? Is this as bad as the Armstrong Williams scandal?

Unknown as yet. What we are pretty certain of (from reports I’ve read)…

  1. He writes under a pseudonym. This is not entirely unheard of.
  2. He wrote for
  3. is owned by a Republican Delegate. This guy also owns
  4. Gannon/Guckert lobbed softball and spun questions during press conferences
  5. G/G did NOT have the standard Press Corps pass. Instead he got clearance from the White House each day he wished to attend on a ‘single shot’ basis.
  6. This pass was under his ‘Guckert’ name but McClellan referred to him by his nom de plume when calling on him.
  7. The bloggers appear to have brought him out into the open. This included extracurricular activities that, while somewhat amusing given the context, aren’t really germane.

So it’s an open question. Clearly McClellan knew he was a ‘go-to’ guy in briefings when the President or McClellan might want to re-steer the discussion. But it’s not at all evident that he was ‘planted’ by the administration. I’ve seen nothing that indicates that so far.

Is it wrong? Damn staight, from my journalistic eyes. But who’s in the wrong is up for grabs.

You’ve evidently missed the (so far) three page brouhaha about this in the Pit:

This might well be manipulative behavior on the part of the Bush adminsitration. I think the administration correctly sees the majority of the press as hostile and this is a way to get questions asked that McClellan would like to answer instead of endless variations of “Do you still beat your wife?”

Clinton used a fawning press corps to his advantage. Bush is attempting to soften the influence of a hostile one.

Oh, and…

  1. I doubt he’s a ‘fringe conservative blogger who likes to attend briefings’. It can be difficult as hell to get access to that room.

  2. Unknown.

  3. No, it’s not as bad as the Williams thing. But if it’s discovered that the administration planted him there and ‘ran’ him it could be.

I think it all ties together somehow. Not sure yet precisely what I’m getting at here, but seems like there is a “gay” connection to all this…

Is Armstrong Williams gay? Is this “Jeff Gannon”/JD Guckert gay? Wasn’t there a (not highly publicised) scandal in the GHW Bush (Bush I) admin involving gay prostitution/porn and blackmail?

BTW, Talon News, “Gannon”'s employer, has scrubbed its archives of all the “gay-bashing” articles published (by “Gannon” and others), since this has come under scrutiny). Why? Is the GOP’s position on gay marriage (against) not “mainstream”, according to them? What are they hiding?

This isn’t about homosexuality, per se - it’s about homophobia, and how the right-wing is using it to their advantage. Are they using (or blackmailing) “self-hating” gays to further their agenda?

Evil One: * Clinton used a fawning press corps to his advantage.*

“Fawning”? Are we talking about the press corps that hammered Clinton over Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, the $200 haircut, Monica Lewinsky, the failure of healthcare reform, Monica Lewinsky, Monica Lewinsky, and a host of other stormy issues?

At most, I think Clinton had a love/hate, or what Howard Kurtz calls a push-pull, relationship with the press:

I’d say Bush got at least as much “fawning” from the press as Clinton did, certainly from 9/11 onward.

If Clinton had managed not to make a media spectacle of himself with his personal behavior things would not have been so bad for him. Most of the individuals covering his administration had to react to the Lewinsky, et al. issues to maintain their journalistic credibility. I used to be in the TV news business myself. You can ask hard questions or softballs. Many pre-Lewinsky Clinton press conferences looked like a Labor Day company picnic on the baseball diamond.

In the interests of full disclosure, Howard Kurtz’s wife is an RNC media strategist. He appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzter yesterday trying to spin the Gannon story as a case of “leftist bloggers going too far digging up personal info”, rather than the idea that Gannon had no business getting clearance for a WH press pass.

Just a heads up on the GOP talking point, and why it might be bullshit.

You’d think the bullshit about Clinton would have been put to rest by now, but I guess “desparate times call for desparate measures”. And they are desparate in re this particular scandal, believe me…

I don’t think this isn’t about gays as much as it is about something much more insidious.

What the pit thread only touches on, and what this thread has largely ignored so far, is that Gannon’s questionable admission to the White House Press Corps is only the early part of the story. There is substantial evidence that because Gannon was so friendly to the administration, and because he was an unknown with little journalistic history, he was ultimately drawn into the Valerie Plame affair as a shill to help spin the classified intelligence leak and take a little heat off the White House.

In October of 2003, Gannon was allegedly leaked the same classified memo that got Robert Novak in trouble (a surprising and even appalling gesture of trust on the part of whoever gave him the memo, given that he’d only been credentialed as a White House reporter six months earlier) and instructed by the White House to help take the heat off both the administration and Novak by playing the part of a third-party, unengaged reporter asking loaded, party-slanted questions about Plame (something like, hypothetically, “Isn’t it true that if Aldrich Ames had been previously outed Plame as a covert operative, thus making her status as a CIA spy common knowledge, then wouldn’t that absolve the White House and Bob Novak, respectively, from any criminal culpability for the subsequent leaking of the classified intelligence memo, and for the subsequent outing of Plame?”).

Basically, he got used as a distraction and a human shield by the White House and then expended.

That should read “if Aldrich Ames had previously outed Plame


Well, I gotta hand it to ya. Even after the wheels flew off, you managed to poke your legs through the floorboard and Flinstone it for a few more miles.

If the White House actually planted a schill to make their press secretary look better, then they deserve to get spanked in the Court of public opinion. They end up looking inept and cowardly. And that would be appropriate because planting someone to lob softballs at your press secretary would be cowardly. But does every possible scandal need to end with Bush being the Antichrist?

Where do you get Antichrist from this?

The Flinstone reference has relevance (look it up, you deves! - Gannon registered as “Bedrock” corp.). But what about the rest of it? Sorry, but the current GOP focus on gays and related nonsense (SpongeBob?), just got me thinking this way.

The only relevant thing here is whether or not it can be tied to the Bush admin. or Bush (George W.) himself. Am I on the right track here? Maybe I am, and that is why you try to attack my post…

I have no idea if it can be tied to him (Dubya). But I know quite a bit about gay bashing and self-hating gays. If you want my personal history, just let me know - I’ve got nothing to hide here or anywhere…

Meanwhile, it is a fact that they (the right-wing) use and blackmail people who fall outside their box of who is acceptable. As I’ve said, I’m not completely sure where any of the current principle players fall here. Let’s see who’s who, and what’s what.

Or is that anathema to you?

That last paragraph was my point. Everyone seems to agree that a right-wing nutjob was given repeated daily passes to the White House press corps. The only question is how he got those press passes: was it a legitimate issuance of a press pass, was there some mistake, did he use some sort of political influence to get into the press room, or was he put in the press room for a political purpose?

If you’d have left it there, that would be fine. But you proceeded to ride that right off the rails with your theories about this being somehow related to a continuing pattern of homosexual-related scandals in the Republican party, and GOP hatred of homosexuals. I’ve seen nothing to indicate that homosexuality has anything to do with anything here. Why did you feel compelled to bring it up?

Sounds good to me. I’m merely suggesting that we try to avoid concocting wild-eyed conspiracy theories until we actually have some idea of “who’s who, and what’s what.”

My guess would be that he is simply a fringe conservative with a website. That the white house is certainly using it to their advantage is to be sure and not at all suprising based on what serveral former press secretaries from various administrations write in books regarding the “truth” of the whitehouse press room.

I think that this may just make everyone more aware of how fabricated and spun everything coming out of the whitehouse pressroom is… and always has been.

What on Earth are you talking about?

I’ve never heard any of that before, not even as a rumor. Do you have any cites?

Since you’re here, JC–my guess is that on any given day there are far more reporters who would like to have “day passes” to the press activities than there are such passes. Is that the case? If so, aren’t the legitimate media the ones who should be royally pissed?

Update: Gannon has resigned from Talon News. Talon has removed all archived articles from its website (they’re still available as cached files via Google).

Well, I certainly knew people who got in with such passes. But not on an ‘on demand’ basis as G/G appears to have done. McClellan appears to be defending this with ‘hey, we let everyone in’ type of line. And it’s certainly good enough to provide plausible deniability.

I do feel certain that demand for access exceeds supply. Otherwise all the nut job bloggers would be in there hurling accusations.

And note: depending on the circumstance only SOME reporters are entitled to even raise their hands to get a question in. There’s the example of that young woman from Radio Marti in the 80s. IIRC during Reagan’s big ‘Iran Contra’ press conference she raised her hand (way in the back) and got called on by President Reagan. She asked some question about Cuba, I think. She was later tossed from her job and her access was gone because she wasn’t one of the ‘elect’ that get to ask questions.

This isn’t to say that this administration maintains that same level of control but it certainly LOOKS like they’re all about controlling access to the President.

So it rings some bells. And yes, I’d say the regular Press Corps guys are pretty cheesed off about G/G.