Sunday, February 20, 2005

Blogs and Mainstream - A new balance of power

Blogs and Mainstream - A new balance of power
"There is something in the virtual air and the winds of change seem to be blowing harder".

At, Margaret Romao Tolgo provides an analysis of how blogs are making their way into the mainstream and are directly affecting the news.

I couldn't agree more with this comment by Ms. Tolgo:

The blogger coverage of Gannongate appears to have fallen victim to partisan spin that spun out of control. In their zeal to discredit Mr. Guckert/Gannon, the bloggers covering him got caught up in a salacious sidestory and lost sight of the most important issue which was suspicion that the White House might be engaging in the manipulation of the press -- a most grave breech of our founding principles, if it is true -- not that Mr. Guckert/Gannon used a pseudonym..or registered domains for gay pornography sites after having written anti-gay articles.
In the story of J.D. Guckert, it isn't too late for the bloggers to steer and steady their course toward the "most important point". I have been stressing this point since the blog-story broke. While the tawdry gay-escort portion of the tale is relevant to the story, the bigger issues must remain the focus. As evidenced in yesterday's Washington Post Ombudsman's editorial, the bloggers have done their job in bringing Guckert's situation to the forefront. The mainstream, if you believe Michael Getler, will now seize this story as "their own".

I was quoted in Ms. Tolgo's article:
Jude Nagurney Camwell of The American Street offered this assesment (sic), "The ‘Right-wing mouth machine’ would like us all to think that Eason Jordan was 'bad' and 'unAmerican' for saying what he said. CNN has been complicit by their reticence to talk about tough issues. They wound up to be the biggest loser. They lost Eason Jordan. Eason was guilty before being proven innocent by no other process except one: the blog-trial."
I stress my point once more:

Eason Jordan lost his position with CNN due to a blog trial. There was never a mainstream media discussion. The Star Tribune has a piece (ex post facto) about the Eason Jordan case, pointing out the fact that Jordan was out of a job before some major media outlets even reported there was a controversy.

Right wing blogs seized the moment in the case of Jordan.

CNN allowed themselves to be abused by the court of the right-wing in the rolling vigilante thunder of the new storm called the blog-mob.

In the Star Tribune article, there are statements from Bill Roggio, a New Jersey computer technician who helped put together the Web site
"I think that we're definitely being accused of going on a witchhunt and I think that was unfortunate."
From a rational standpoint, this looked as if it was, indeed, a concerted political effort to promote an activism which has become all too familiar to call it anything less than a witchhunt.

Easongate: J'accuse.
"The reason a story like this broke is because the media ignored it and the bloggers pursued it."
The "reason" the story broke, I would respectfully contend, is due to the inescapable fact that people with a political agenda (which they cannot deny or rationalize away) wanted to make Jordan's statement a focal point in the headlines.

Roggio says he believes 'Jordan's resignation was justified'. I could not disagree with him more. There was no fireable offense committed by Eason Jordan. There was no public debate, other than the trial-by-blog by a non-balanced right-wing kangaroo court which seems to wield an unreasonably weighted influence upon the mainstream media today.

Roggio dons a mask of hypocrisy when asked for a statement about the J.D. Guckert story that is just now heating up in the mainstream and coming up for public debate in the mainstream arena. Bloggers uncovered evidence linking Guckert to online sites suggestive of gay pornography. Roggio says:
"That's ugly. It's an embarrassment to me as a blogger."
I wonder if Mr. Roggio might think that a person posing as a trusted and seasoned journalist, getting [far] too-easily credentialed for the White House Press corps, is a situation in which he should have any concern, especially when we've learned that the news organization Guckert represented did not even become a "news organization" until after he'd somehow squeezed his way into the White House press room?

Why wouldn't Bill Roggio care about this story unless he was politically motivated to want to sweep it under a rug?

More importantly, why would he see the citizen-journalists' act of uncovering the story as "ugly" in any way, shape or form?

No one has made up stories about J.D. Guckert. If the truth surrounding J.D. Guckert is ugly, we can only blame the light of day.

Who can be embarrassed by the light of day?

Putting Guckert's unusual activities in the White House Press corps into clear focus will work to expose the same right-wing misinformation-carousel that has caused Eason Jordan to lose his position by no more than an unjust blog-mob tarnishing.

It's no shame for the Bush administration to shape their agenda.
It is against every common American value we share for the administration to use the media to twist reality and truth to fit its agenda.

Any possibility whatsoever that Guckert was allowed to be in that room to assist that perversion of reality on behalf of the Executive is worthy of a high level of investigation.

It's time for reasonable and caring citizens to put a stop to this political manipulation of American journalism.

That concern isn't ugly.
It's based upon shared American values.

Gannon May Sue Bloggers

Run, Guckert, run
from thyself, ye shall run
and by the truth say we
'tis none but the fault o'the light o' day

Gannon May Sue Bloggers
Get this:
Jeff Gannon is considering suing liberal interest groups, bloggers and others for a "political assassination" that drove him from his job as a reporter for a conservative news outfit called Talon News, he told NEWSWEEK.
If he's going to take such little responsibility for his own actions, perhaps he'd better sue the Bush administration, too, for allowing him to become a story. Karl Rove mistakenly thought the news was something he could manipulate, package and sell to all of us. He expected we'd never question it at all. Or that we'd be intimidated from free speech - from asking and pointing to truths uncovered by investigation - under the scary threat of pending lawsuits.

Yes. Guckert had best add the Bush administration to his list of all the defendants who caused him to run away -
from himself.

Lotsa luck, "Guck".

Photo credit:

Mme Ebadi Calls For Judicial Reforms in Iran

"We want justice, not political turmoil."

- Mme Shirin Ebadi

Mme Ebadi Calls For Judicial Reforms in Iran

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi is calling for judiciary reforms in Iran, claiming that many political prisoners in the country are not granted access to a lawyer.She said that just because people like her are struggling for human rights and justice does not make them political opponents.
Ebadi, the 2003 Peace Prize winner, was speaking at a human rights meeting in Tehran.

She said any accused person has the right to have a lawyer. Ebadi said even the judiciary chief himself has stressed this irrefutable right, but she said that many, mainly political, prisoners cannot avail themselves of it.

She said that she was jailed for representing students involved in protest demonstrations and her colleague, Nasser Zarafshan, is still in jail for having taken on the 1999 controversial case of slain Iranian dissidents.

WP:Why Gannon is "A Story"

Washington Post:
Why Gannon is "A Story"

I offer an important mainstream media opinion to those of my readers who have chastised me (on and off this blog) about what they see as partisan "screeching" about Jeff Gannon.
The Washington Post concurs with my view.
This is a non-partisan and relevant issue.
WP Ombudsman Michael Getler explains why.
The events, questions and controversies surrounding Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent war in Iraq, are like bones in the throat for millions of people. For many, they are also seen as a partisan issue. But for others, they are not partisan. It is a matter of wanting to know everything we can about what was known, said and done. That's the journalist's role. Every piece of the puzzle deserves to be looked at and reported on by journalists who have followed these events closely. These two documents added to the historical record and merited more attention.

Many more readers were exercised last week about the bizarre case of James Dale Guckert, aka "Jeff Gannon," the conservative "reporter" who worked for such organizations as Talon News and GOPUSA, and who managed to get himself regularly cleared into White House news briefings, and who asked a question at a presidential news conference about Democrats who he said "seem to have divorced themselves from reality."

Here's how one reader put it: "I don't understand why The Post has turned the 'Jeff Gannon' story into yet another piece about bloggers. The story happened to be broken by bloggers, to their credit. But the story has two serious elements that The Post should report out on its own: 1) How is it that in an era when we have to take our shoes off to get on an airplane, a guy gains access to the White House with an alias on his ID badge? I don't believe that has yet been answered; 2) To what extent was granting 'Gannon' access another form of buying or manipulating the news? These are important questions." I agree."

We Must Not Act Out of Fear

We Must Not Act Out of Fear

My adopted son was born in West Africa. When he was 10 there was a civil war. He was left alone without care, food, school or safety. At 11, he was forced to become a soldier. He was told he could avenge the death of his parents.I met him when he was 15. He had escaped the army and found his sanity again. He said, "I realize now that revenge only produces revenge. There is no end to revenge.We must simply stop."

During the war in Sierra Leone I spoke to my son every Friday morning. While waiting for permission for him to come to this country, I could not immediately change his life in Africa or slip him through the phone wire as I liked to imagine. But I could offer some relief from excruciating bouts of fear and hopelessness, and the hurtling energy of frustration that re-instigated his earlier trauma.I suggested he try to distinguish between when he was caught up in stories about frustration, panic and fear, and when he felt alert, regardless of feeling or circumstance.

By sitting down at the moment the fear began, and becoming familiar with the details of where he was at the moment, he was able to place his attention on his feet and hands, back and belly.

Just like the shopkeeper as he sits with his tea, my son discovered that what he was feeling could be experienced and tolerated. He was able to calm himself and be of help to others.

There are so many ways in our everyday lives in which we can be drawn out of a sense of wakeful balance and become victims of our impulses. In that moment we have no power. We become like the two friends who propose to battle over the length of a moustache. The awareness that lets us rest our minds before acting out of fear is the same awareness that produces the joy of creative problem-solving and generosity that brings peace in adverse circumstances.

- Laura Simms, one of the nation's leading storytellers helping to bridge differences between students divided by racial and cultural strife.

There Is Only One of Us Here

There Is Only One of Us Here
Through the curtain the daylight crept
I looked at my lover as she slept
And as I watched her face I wept
It was a wonderful disguise.
Mike Scott (of Waterboys fame) recites the strangers he encounters throughout the day: a driver turning to look at him in traffic; a blind man addressing him outside a museum; a fat woman in a queue; a drunk on the stairs as he returns home; and the president “on the news at 10, looking like he could use a friend.” All of them, he decides, wearing a wonderful disguise.
Stood in front of the mirror all alone
Examined my features, skin and bone
Looked at the face I’ve always known
It was a wonderful disguise.
He explained the inspiration by email. “I was living in the Findhorn community in the mid 1990s and started to see divinity in peoples’ faces, in their eyes. I told a more experienced community friend and she said ‘you are seeing God in all his wonderful disguises’. I knew in my heart then she was right – and now I know it in my whole being.”
“Findhorn changed the way I look at life and other people forever,” he noted on the Waterboys’ official website. “I realized everyone really is the same deep underneath, with the same longing to love and be loved.

Behind all our appearances, as one writer says,
There is only one of us here.’

*A tip of the hat to Jerry Katz

Jonathan Schell on Iraq's Unpredictable Politics

Jonathan Schell on Iraq's Unpredictable Politics

Last year I commented that the U.S. assault on Fallujah would probably work against the intended goal of a healthy liberal democracy in Iraq.

Judging from what we know, so far, about the results of January's election in Iraq, I think my prediction bore much truth.

There were many happy purple fingered people in Iraq. The fingers belonged to the Shiite and Kurd population, for the better part. It would be dishonest for me to say that I am not happy that the voters in Iraq literally risked their lives for the hope of something better. Hope does not translate to reality, as we well know from our own nation's past two presidential elections. In the case of Iraq, when the hoped-for "better" falls out, I think what we will really see is a push for a separation of the varied tribes of the land rather than the growth of united and proud nationalism.

Jonathan Schell says it very well. (subscription required for link) His recent Nation article explains the "falling out" and the realistic truth that surrounds the results of January's election. Schell says:
"What the election was not was a decision by "the Iraqi people." It's not even clear that at this moment there is such a thing as the Iraqi people. Opinion among scholars and others is divided on the point. Iraq is a nation without a constitution (it is governed by a Transitional Administrative Law) and without a state. If some observers are correct, it is also a nation without a nation."
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was offering the elections as a means of ending the occupation while he was, at the same time, relying upon the U.S. occupation to make the elections happen. Terror attacks occurred, largely by Sunni insurgents upon Shiites. Because of Sistani's leadership and insistence upon the January election date, Shiites did not retaliate. The Sunnis knew they could still boycott the voting, and, in Schell's words, "the great majority of them reportedly did, but they failed to stop it entirely."

As a result, al-Sistani may have been able to win power, but he may still be unable to found a just new order in Iraq. In Schell's words:
All the parties express a desire to avoid civil war, but there is a distinct possibility that what the vote strengthened was not "the Iraqi people" but each of the subgroups. The high vote of the Shiites and the low vote of the Sunnis may have carried the same message: When all is said and done, we are more faithful to the interest of our own group than to a unified Iraq. The very steps Sistani took to achieve the Shiite electoral triumph may turn out to have fatally undermined any future government. When he acquiesced in the smashing of Falluja, he passed up an opportunity for national solidarity that may not come soon again. The danger for the Shiite leadership is that by associating themselves with an occupying power, they will--even among many Shiites--throw away the legitimacy that the election has just given them. Then all hopes, including those so movingly expressed on January 30, will have been betrayed.
Schell ponders the wisdom of an extended U.S. presence in Iraq, saying that "the danger for the United States in staying is that it will wind up on one side of a civil war that its presence will continually exacerbate but be unable to quell."

Gannon Headlines

Gannon Headlines


Clarence Page - Check your media lap dogs, Mr. President Chicago Tribune
"Tell me again: What was that war about? Oh, yeah: freedom and democracy. Great. I'd like to see a little more of that back here at home."

Leonard Pitts Jr. - Planting a stooge in press corps not out of character for Bush
Weeks later, I'm still waiting for a good explanation of what Jeff Gannon was doing in the White House. And for you to be upset about it.

Houston Chronicle - Eberle denies Gannon was a White House plant, yet says he was "surpised" when Gannon gained White House accreditation under his real [Guckert] name.
Eberle said that in the two years that Guckert wrote for the Web site and for the Talon News agency, he had not kept track of his volunteer reporter. "Jeff did his thing, I did my thing," Eberle said.

Editor and Publisher - Transcript of CNN/Anderson Cooper interview with Gannon

COOPER: Because in -- was that for Talon News?

GANNON: At the time, it was called something else, but it -- the name was changed to Talon News shortly thereafter.

COOPER: What was it called at the time?

GANNON: It was called GOPUSA.

COOPER: So -- and that's owned by a Republican activist, Bobby Eberle?

GANNON: It's owned by Bobby Eberle.

COOPER: The first record we have now of you actually being at a White House press briefing was on February 28, 2003, as you said, before Talon News even existed. So why were you given a White House pass?

GANNON: I was given a White House -- well, you will have to ask the White House that. But I asked to attend the White House briefing because I was -- you know, because I wanted to report on the activities there.

COOPER: But GOPUSA is not a news organization.

GANNON: Well, we were -- we were -- we had established a news division, and it was later renamed Talon News.

COOPER: Because this is news to just about everybody. You know, Talon News wasn't registered I think until, well, March 29 of 2003. I think the first articles didn't appear until April 1. So I guess the questions that are being raised why were you at -- allowed to go to a White House briefing if you are working for GOPUSA, which is a clearly partisan organization?


COOPER: But you weren't even publishing anything. You weren't reporting anything.

GANNON: Well, actually, I was at the time.

COOPER: When was the first article you ever published?

GANNON: Well, you're -- I don't know that, because I'm here in your studio here. And I don't know the answer to specific dates. All I can tell you is that -- and frankly, all these questions about Talon News and GOPUSA, you need to ask them about that, because I don't represent them any longer.

COOPER: Yeah, we've asked them. They refuse to talk about it.

Mike Argento, York Daily Record - Pardon the pundit, but he prostitutes press


Is there any reason why you should be denied credentials to cover the White House?

A. No.

B. I can’t think of anything.

C. Nothing comes to mind.

D. I’m sure the fact that I gave a fake name and a fake news organization and may have worked as a male prostitute who has posted naked pictures of himself on the Internet won’t have any bearing on your decision.


"Well, we probably already know a lot more than any of us expected to know about Jeff Gannon's personal life. I didn't go into journalism, frankly, to be looking at Web sites like"

*Jude says: It's the story you were dealt, Howie. So, plug your nose and deal, already. Frankly, I don't like it, either. It just so happens to be true, material, and relevant in this particular case.

But leaving that aside, there are lots of questions, which the White House hasn't fully answered, about how this guy got the credentials to get into the White House on a daily basis for almost two years, whether he used his legal name, James Guckert, as opposed to his stage name, so to speak, who in the White House knew about this, and whether they viewed him as somebody who was a -- not just a sympathetic conservative reporter, there are liberal reporters at the White House as well, but somebody who was a reliable ally in the Bush administration's effort to get out its message?

...the question you raise is still the one hanging out there, which is, were the rules somehow bent for Jeff Gannon because he was obviously very sympathetic to President Bush in his coverage? And how much did the White House know about his background? And if he did use his legal name for the pass, why did everybody kind of play along with the pseudonym that he had preferred to use when he worked Talon News and for GOPUSA, these two Web sites that are owned by a Republican activist?"