A recent high-profile case of media abuse involves faux-correspondent Jeff Gannon, who for nearly two years received daily credentials from the White House press office to attend briefings and, when the occasion arose, lob "softball" questions at Press Secretary Scott McClellan.
He became a useful escape hatch for McClellan, especially when grilling by other journalists got intense. Gannon – whom we now know to be James D. Guckert – continued to come to the aid of the White House throughout the election year, even though the Standing Committee of Correspondents earlier in 2004 had refused to issue him a permanent pass, citing questionable ties between Gannon's news organization, Talon News, and its wealthy Republican supporters in Texas.
The Talon News' correspondent showed his true colors during the live broadcast of a January 26 presidential press conference when he asked Bush a question about the White House Social Security plan. The request was a poorly disguised dig at Bush's political foes, whom Gannon described as people "divorced from reality." This partisan ploy backfired. A subsequent investigation by bloggers found Gannon to be gaining special access to the White House, each day exploiting a credentialing loophole set up to provide visiting journalists with a temporary pass.
McClellan has pleaded ignorance in the resulting furor over Gannon's free pass, saying: "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." This appears to contradict evidence at hand. In the 10 months since the Standing Committee refused Gannon's credentials, the fact that he worked for an outlet that simply promoted one political party was no secret within White House press circles. The line between reporter and propagandist had been crossed so many times that this administration didn't give Gannon's intransigence a second thought.
1. Introduction: Ghosts in the Media Machine
2. A Propaganda Slush Fund Courtesy of U.S. Taxpayers
3. Armstrong Williams and the White House Payola Trail
4. Propagandists on the Pentagon Payroll
5. The Demise of FOIA and the Special Prosecutor