Monday, February 14, 2005

Mmm, Unsavory

Salon weighs in with a complete rundown of the whole tawdry Gannon affair.

Last week, Republican activist Bobby Eberle, the man behind the now infamous conservative Web site Talon News, insisted that before hiring "Jeff Gannon" as his White House correspondent, he never looked into Gannon's background. If true, Eberle probably wishes he had. And the same could be said for the White House officials who bent the rules to make way for Gannon in the press briefing room. There's new evidence that the Talon reporter, who lobbed softball questions at Bush during press conferences on behalf of a dubious news operation, recently worked as a male escort.

Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, made headlines last week when he resigned from Talon after days of intensive scrutiny from bloggers. Online critics first raised questions about Guckert's questionable journalistic methods and his lack of experience (he often cut and pasted White House press releases into his "news" stories), as well as Talon's lack of independence from Eberle's purely partisan GOPUSA Web site. Then questions arose about why the Talon reporter was given access to the White House press room after being turned down for Capitol Hill press credentials. The final straw for Guckert came when bloggers revealed associations that Guckert and his Delaware-based company had with a handful of gay-themed male escort services.

Guckert insisted his only involvement with the sex sites was as a software consultant and, he added: "Those sites were never hosted. There's -- nothing ever went up on them," as he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Feb. 10. In an interview posted Feb. 11 with Editor & Publisher magazine, Guckert made the same claim: "They were done through a private company [Bedrock Corp.] I was involved with doing Web site development about five years ago. The sites were never hosted, and nothing was ever posted to the sites." On Monday, John Aravosis posted on his liberal site AmericaBlog.org detailed evidence indicating that not only was Guckert personally involved with the Web sites, but he was also offering his escort services for $200 an hour, or $1,200 a weekend.

And Digby explains why we should care.

I personally have no problems with the Bush White House needing to blow off some consensual adult steam. It's a stressful job. If gay hookers are going to help them relax then who am I to argue? I'm a liberal. I have nothing against gays or hookers.

But for a moment let me think as a Republican would, if the shoe were on the other foot:

So many questions so few answers. Just why did JimJeff get such special treatment? It's not like they didn't already have a bunch of ready made shills to ask softball questions. Les Kinsolving's been throwing partisan bombs for years. They certainly didn't need JimJeff to transcribe RNC talking points when they have the Beltway Boys to do it on national television.

Scotty said that the president called on JimJeff of his own volition. A coincidence? Or did someone request that JimJeff get a special treat that day?

And has it ever been logical that this nobody from a vanity web site would get access to the Plame story? Why him? JimJeff claims that he never actually saw the Plame memo, yet he clearly knew of it. Could it have been pillow talk?

I don't have a clue. But, I do know that if this were 1998, we'd be knee deep in congressional investigations into the gay hooker ring in the White House. Every news crew in the DC area would be camped out on JimJeff's front lawn. A wild-eyed Victoria Toensing and panting Kelly Ann Fitzpatrick would be crawling up on the Hardball desk rending their silk teddies and speaking in tongues while Matthews'exploding head spun around on his shoulders.