"It was a bad enough that somebody let in a guy with no media experience, an alias, and a background as an on-line escort -- but why did they let him in if he wasn't even pretending to represent a news organization of any kind?"
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.
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.
"Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the "boy genius." Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon....
...what Gannon was up to was not just writing opinion columns or using a different technique to get information. He was a player in Republican campaigns and his work in the South Dakota Senate race illustrates the role he played. It is also a classic example of how political operatives are using the brave new world of the Internet and the blogosphere. Gannon and Talon News appear to be mini-Drudge reports; a "news" source which partisans use to put out negative information, get the attention of the bloggers, talk radio and then the MSM in a way that mere press releases are unable to achieve...
...Planting or even just sanctioning a political operative in the WH press room is a dangerous precedent and Karl Rove's hope to become a respected policymaker will be hampered if the dirty tricks from his political past are more apparent than his desire to spread liberty around the globe."
"Gannon took up the Republicans' dirty work with great gusto, beginning more than a year before the election, in the summer of 2003. Working with two local South Dakota bloggers, both of whom later turned out to be secretly paid operatives of the Thune campaign, he targeted Daschle and discredited mainstream journalists..[..]..
...why he obtained such special treatment from Karl Rove's White House communications operation -- one useful exercise may be what intelligence analysts call "walking back the cat." In essence, this means running the movie in reverse slow-motion to see where the suspect came from and what he did along the way.
Looking back at the special role played by Talon and Gannon in the South Dakota Senate campaign may provide clues in the mystery of the male-escort-cum-journalist's extraordinary access to the Bush White House."
Conason's article exposes a site called "DaschleVThune," a Web blog operated by history professor and Republican activist Jon Lauck, and South Dakota Politics.com, run by a lawyer named Jason Van Beek, who gave flight to Gannon's covert and operative style of "journalism".
"The two leading South Dakota blogs – websites full of informal analysis, opinions and links – were authored by paid advisers to Thune’s campaign.
The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the National Journal first cited Federal Election Commission documents showing that Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek, of South Dakota Politics, were advisers to the Thune campaign.
The documents, also obtained by CBS News, show that in June and October the Thune campaign paid Lauck $27,000 and Van Beek $8,000. Lauck had also worked on Thune’s 2002 congressional race.
Both blogs favored Thune, but neither gave any disclaimer during the election that the authors were on the payroll of the Republican candidate."
My fine fellow Americans at Little Green Footballs, you think I'm calling the kettle black by insinuating that you participated, in concert with other right-wing blogs, in a well-orchestrated activity which resulted in grave harm to the career and reputation of a 23-year veteran of CNN news, a brilliant, decent, and hard-working man with years of on-the-job experience.
Was this a case where Jordan actually said something inflammatory? Of course. It cannot be denied.
Do I think he should have resigned? No. I don't.
He says he wanted to save CNN from controversy. If any of you say you think you know any other reason why he left so quickly, I will remind each of you that you could not know. Conjecture just won't do.
My observations on the gang-mentality that led him to resign are just what they are. I saw it unfolding before my eyes and I blogged about it. I realize that you did not appreciate my observations about what was occurring. I won't rehash it again. It's over.
I make no apology. I'm a blogger, just like you.
Little Green Footballs people, you categorize my follow-ups on the ongoing Jeff Gannon story as "screeching". It seems that you cannot imagine how I could possibly reconcile the hypocrisy that you see in me.
Jay Rosen recently said that "the solution to miscommunication has to be more communication." I agree. CNN failed Eason Jordan in their failure to defend him with open discussion and a demand for the tape's release. They could have foiled what I saw to be the Right's distinct intent to damage the "old media".
The fact that CNN refused to even talk about it leads me to believe that they thought they couldn't fight the Right's influence. That, to me, is very telling.
I see Jeff Gannon as a wicked symptom of the very same gang mentality that helped to easily destroy Eason Jordan's CNN position.
Gannon was not Eason Jordan. They are two different people and these are two different stories. Each story needs to be based upon its own merits. It's easy to spin them together, but they are not the same story.
Gannon was a professional imposter (not to mention a man-ho) and perhaps he was a known shill for the White House. We still don't know. All signs are pointing to the suspicion that he was a political operative.
None of us know the full scope of the story to date. There are stones still unturned.
Unturned stones is precisely what an investigation is all about, Little Green Footballs people.
I see a disturbing trend, in the case of Jeff Gannon. As Frank Rich wrote in a recent column: By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news.
A real investigation isn't "He said this (or that)! Let's complain to his employer! Let's petition! Let's act en masse to put the pressure on his employer to fire him!"
You may call that a really good investigation. I call it an extremely effective dogpile.
In the case of Jordan, the Davos tape you so badly wanted means almost nothing now, and I am proud to say that I never once advocated its stifling.
You can dogpile on me all you'd like, LGF folks, but in the end, I am one person who gets paid a big fat ZERO and am under the influence of no one and nothing except for my own conscience.
I stand alone, I have one opinion, I abhor cultural propaganda and shoddy journalism, and consider myself to be no hypocrite.
I wish each one of you peace and hope you will never fail to closely examine your own individual conscience in all endeavors.
I also hope Eason Jordan finds a wonderful new job and that Jeff Gannon never again attempts to pass himself off as anything more than a willing participant in the propagandizing of the media.
*Thanks, in large part to people like John Stewart making this a featured focus, this Jeff Gannon story moved over to the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams tonight. Finally, someone in the mainstream has taken it seriously.
Why did Tom Ridge feel that he had to insist Homeland Security was not about politics, though?
That's my question.
In effect, he lied for political gain.
During the campaign, he bragged to crowds:
"We don't do politics in Department of Homeland Security."
Like hell, you didn't, Mr. Ridge.
When Ridge was running the department of Homeland Security, he said the war on terrorism is "about as apolitical or bipartisan as you can get. There's no Republican or Democratic way to do it. We just have to do it right, regardless of our party affiliation."
Now, more than ever, I firmly believe Ridge was lying about that, as well. Once again, the people's trust is breached by the discovery of bold lies.
I think back to past terrorist-alerts issued by Ridge at incredibly opportune political moments. I wonder how much of it was complete and utter deflective politics?
Regardless of party affiliation, my Homeland posterior.
I can't imagine anything LESS characteristically or traditionally "American" as painting members of your loyal opposition with the same brush as terrorists, but it's been done far too many times now for me to put an ounce of trust in the purposefully divisive Bush administration.
It all makes this spoof seem eerily close to reality.
Former US weapons inspector Scott Ritter is in the news again. He is saying that the new Russian Topol missile makes U.S. defenses obsolete. Russia has tested the ballistic missile and it's a weapon that would render the United States Star Wars scheme useless.
This comes on a day when Donald Rumsfeld's hawking of the Missile Defense program appears in the press. When Senator Hillary Clinton expressed her concerns about the oddity that we would deploy a system that hasn't succeeded and expect that to serve a deterrent value, Rumsfeld said this:
"If you didn't do anything until you could do everything, you probably wouldn't do anything."
I sense that the Bush administration is beating drums that could lead to a U.S. war with Syria.
Given the seriousness of the charges we are making against Syria, I am seeing what I believe are some irresponsible statements in the media.
Allow me to give you an example. Take a look at David Schuster's recent comment, which he'd made regarding the assassination of former Lebanon PM Hariri.
The Bush administration hasn't directly accused Syria of being responsible for the thousand-pound car bomb that ripped a dozen armor plated cars to shreds. But, nothing dramatic happens in Beirut without the Syrian government's knowledge or approval.
In fairness, Mr. Schuster follows the statement up with this:
This afternoon, one of our military analysts suggested the Lebanese bombing may not have necessarily been the work of Syria..[..]..However, most analysts still subscribe to the idea that Hariri wouldn't have been assassinated without Syria's acquiescence.
Disturbingly, the first statement sounds all too definitive. It leaves an impression that Syria must be undeniably guilty of direct involvement with the assassination of the former PM. There is no supporting evidence presented with which to convince the public of this assertion.
I think that, after what we saw in the lead-up to the Iraq war, our journalists must be extremely careful in how they frame such assertions.
No Proof, But Syria Gets Blame for Lebanon bombing
At Informed Comment, Juan Cole explains how reality-based nuance means very little when it comes to world politics. In Lebanon (and in much of the outside world), Syria will be guilty because they said so.
That is, the Maronite, Druze and Sunni Muslim leadership has largely decided to blame President Lahoud and his Syrian backers for the assassination. In a sense, it does not any longer matter who precisely was behind the blast. The political opposition in Lebanon has made up its mind whom to blame. It is not that they are necessarily wrong. On any list of suspects in the killing of Hariri, the Syrians would have to rank high. They had means, motive and opportunity-- which does not, however, establish that they murdered Hariri.
The other angle, of al-Qaeda-like groups hitting out at Saudi-related targets (Hariri had Saudi citizenship), cannot in my view be dismissed. (If, as is now being reported, the blast was in part the work of a suicide bomber, that would rule out a mafia-type business dispute). Given the 250,000 tons of missing munitions in Iraq, there are lots of very high-powered explosives on the market in the Middle East. This proliferation of explosives may be among the major ways in which the Iraq war ends up destabilizing the Middle East, since the explosions are unlikely to remain only in Iraq. Already, some Iraq-related violence has spread to Saudi Arabia.
But the Lebanese opposition and most of the outside world have decided that Syria is guilty because it is guilty.
We don't see a lot about Banda Aceh in the headlines these days, but there is still tremendous suffering.
From a Letter from Banda Aceh, written by Dr. Laurence Ronan, who is aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy off Banda Aceh with a 42-person medical team from the Massachusetts General Hospital organized by Project Hope.
"One child sits outside with the cats and dogs, his 12-year-old sister beside him. They lost their parents and four brothers in the flood. Terribly devoted to one another, they share one plate of food between them and make sure each carefully has his or her proper share.
Most of the parents are in shock. Many live in the displaced persons camps. All have lost someone and hope for their return. The great horror of the tsunami is not knowing what happened to a loved one.
Stressed, a mother delivers prematurely, a 30-week-old preemie, 4 pounds. We likely would save this child in Boston; here, she dies slowly, quietly, in front of our eyes."
Retired Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski (USAF) wrote this article last December. With the Easter/Lenten season upon us, I thought it was an appropriate time to repeat Kwiatkowski's words.
From MilitaryWeek.com: Without Reservation by Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.) What would Jesus do?
"At this time of year, we take time to remember the importance of humility and love for our brothers and sisters, even in the face of hate or contempt. We think about Jesus' radical command to turn the other cheek, his rejection of the old law of "an eye for an eye."
Americans are citizens of a nation created with Saint Augustine's distrust of human government foremost in mind. This time of year, we should thankfully recall the primitive Christian message that one's devoted public service to the state is not the same as one's quiet individual service to God.
The American invasion of Iraq was based on lies, as has been the continued American occupation of her major cities. The lies put forth by the administration ought to remind Christians of those lies the Devil told Jesus up on that mountain in the wilderness. Promises of peace, whispers of wealth, visions of total control of the earth.
At this time of year, we also look for answers. It is truly difficult to know what to do in Iraq, whether you are the President, the Secretary of Defense, his military leaders, the soldiers and Marines in the field, their families or just a single individual who cares.
Something tells me we should leave Iraq to the Iraqis, and try to help that country by first demilitarizing it. Such a solution would require great humility, a turning of the other cheek, and a re-examination of the correct level of American devotion to the state and its propaganda."