Saturday, February 12, 2005

Let's All Chip in and Buy Wolf Blitzer a Clue (and While We're at It, Let's Get One for Howard Kurtz, Too)

CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports (CNN)

This is part of the video lead-in to the Blitzer interview of the uber-versatile "Jeff Gannon," buff, all-American man of mystery and Free Republic enthusiast.
HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Jeff Gannon -- that's what he calls himself at least -- was an obscure member of the White House press corps before he got to ask President Bush a question two weeks ago. And that proved to be his professional downfall.
Suddenly, bloggers on liberal Web sites like Daily Kos started digging into his background. His real name, they discovered, was James Guckert. Gannon resigned from Talon News, saying that, out of concerns for his family, his voice of the new media has gone silent. He says he's been stalked and threatened by -- quote -- "nuts on the left."
Jeff Gannon called himself the conservative guy and delighted in being outspoken, even confrontational. His critics call him a fake reporter. But others say that liberal bloggers went too far in digging into his background because they didn't like his politics. Howard Kurtz, CNN, Washington.
Bad lefty bloggers! Bad, bad, bad.

And this is what we find out from Blitzer's "exclusive television interview" with "Jeff Gannon":

__That his real last name is hard to pronounce.
__That he hasn't legally changed his name to "Jeff Gannon."
__That he apparently does not, ahh, have a spouse.
__That he just registered the domain names of those sexually explicit websites for "a private client."
__That he's currently looking for a new job.

And here are some things that Blitzer didn't get around to asking "Jeff Gannon":

__How did the FBI and White House Press Office deal with his "professional name" when he applied for his daily press passes? Did special arrangements need to be made? Were extra security checks required?
__How did he get access to classified document(s) concerning Valerie Plame? And what is his current status with regard to the special Plame grand jury?
__Did he really have inside knowledge about Dan Rather and the forged documents concerning Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, which he seemed to claim in discussion threads on the Free Republic website?
__Has he gone to law enforcement officials regarding the threats he claims to have received?

Pathetic. This is what we got instead: a total waste of air time.
BLITZER: And Jeff Gannon is joining us now for an exclusive television interview, his first TV interview since leaving his job.
Jeff, thanks very much for joining us.
Should I call you Jeff or James?

GANNON: Please call me Jeff Gannon.
Did I just hear the title of Gannon's forthcoming autobiography?!

BLITZER: So what -- explain the discrepancy. Your real name is James D. Guckert.

GANNON: Yes. Well, it's pronounced Guckert.

BLITZER: Guckert.

GANNON: It's a professional name. I used it because Jeff Gannon is easier to pronounce and easier to remember.
I don't understand. How is "Jeff" easier to remember than "James"?
BLITZER: But you haven't legally changed it?


BLITZER: So your driver's license still has Guckert?

GANNON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: So, when you went into the White House and you showed your driver's license, it was under the name Guckert.

GANNON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: And so you just did this because it was easier to pronounce, presumably.
If you didn't do anything wrong, why did you resign?

GANNON: Well, since I asked my question, people that disagree with me have harassed and threatened not only myself, but my family. And I believe that leaving my post would bring that to an end.

BLITZER: When you say they harassed your family, what was going on?

GANNON: Well, the -- on -- I've been receiving threats. People have been stalking me in my neighborhood, have followed me to church, followed me down the street. And then there are phone calls and hate mail that I've gotten over the Internet.
And it's been very troubling. And when it went toward my family, then I said that I needed to put an end to it.

BLITZER: And when you say your family, could you be a little bit more...
Wolf is so discreet. Go ahead and just ask him straight out.
GANNON: Well, I mean -- I mean my -- when my mother and my brother and his wife received telephone calls that -- you know, that contained threats and all kinds of terrible things being said about me, it's very disturbing. And that's way over the line. And I needed to put that to an end.
Well, that didn't work. Now Wolf has to use the phrase "sexually explicit." But he's not going to say "homosexually explicit" -- if his audience can't figure it out that's their problem.
BLITZER: Because one of the things, as you know, that were said is that you had some sexually explicit Web sites that you were working on. I don't understand what that is, but maybe you could explain that.
Is Wolf saying that he's unprepared or that he doesn't grasp the concept of online solicitation?
GANNON: Well, several years ago, before I came to Washington, I had registered various domain names for a private client. I was doing Web site development. Those sites were never hosted. There's -- nothing ever went up on them. And the client went on to do something else.
There's been so much about me on the Internet that people have, you know, made assumptions about. And I just can't -- I don't even know them all and I can't address them all here.
Wolf is getting really squeamish now. After all, this isn't like semen stains on a navy blue Gap dress or Michael Jackson's spotted penis.
BLITZER: I was going to say, were you there in the White House briefing room on a daily basis to try to change the subject, if you will, send softball questions to Scott McClellan, the press secretary? Or were you there as a real journalist trying to get the story?
A real journalist? In Washington DC?
GANNON: Well, Talon News is a legitimate conservative online news service. And my questions are things that my readers, 700,000 daily subscribed readers, want the answer to. And those are my questions.
I created the questions. Nobody fed questions to me. Scott McClellan certainly never knew what was coming. He knows -- he certainly knows...


BLITZER: Because you wore your politics on your sleeve. Everyone knew you were very conservative.

GANNON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Why did you not get credentials, real credentials, from Capitol Hill from the U.S. Congress?

GANNON: Well, I made an attempt to do that originally when I was going to be covering Washington for Talon News. Our business -- Talon News' business model didn't fit the criteria of the Senate Press Gallery. And while we've been trying to comply, I couldn't stop doing the news. So I went on the basis of a daily pass. And that's -- it's all under the procedures that the White House has established for that.

BLITZER: What's the connection between GOPUSA, the political Web site, and the Talon News Service? It's owned by the same wealthy Texas Republican.

GANNON: I wouldn't say wealthy. I don't know that to be true or not. But...

BLITZER: Bobby Eberle.

GANNON: Bobby Eberle.

But it's common ownership. That's all. Talon News is a separate, independent news division. I work for Talon News. I write articles for Talon News. And that's it.
Isn't that what's called a distinction without a difference? Come on Wolf, help us out here. What exactly does GOPUSA do? And who the hell is Bobby Eberle?
BLITZER: So what are you going to do now?

GANNON: Well, there's -- you know, God closes doors and opens windows. And I believe this is going to be a good opportunity for me, even though it's been painful. And I'm going -- I believe that there's a silver lining out there.

BLITZER: Do you have something already in the works?

GANNON: I've had some people call and make inquiries to see if I had any interest in certain positions.

BLITZER: Jeff Gannon, thanks very much.

GANNON: Thank you, Wolf.
I cannot wait to see where "Jeff Gannon" turns up next.

UPDATE: The Tattered Coat has more, including key links, on GannonGate.


Bulworth said...

Well, the problem I think you have is that you're actually paying attention to the questions that the Wolfer (not to be confused with the other Wolfer at the Pentagon) asks on his show, instead of simply watching the flashy promo for his show that has him crossing him arms like a real tough guy. So you're supposed to think he really asks the tough questions by the way they start the show, but then you go and spoil it all by actually watching him go at it, and you can see that he asks tough questions about as much as Gannon/Guckert.

Grace said...

That could explain it! Sometimes I "watch" these cable news programs twice: the first time, I'm sitting in front of the TV, watching and listening; the second time, I have the sound up but I'm listening in another room (that way, I concentrate much more on what they're actually saying and don't get distracted by choppy head cuts). Then, if I found the show of particular interest, I wait for the transcripts to come online.

I do have a grumble about Fox News: they're very "selective" about which transcripts come up. If I could ever get a free transcript of Fox and Friends, I'd have enough material for several weeks.

Grace Nearing