Accuracy in Media

Conservative bloggers made a name for themselves by starting the process that led to the “Rathergate” scandal. They questioned the authenticity of some alleged National Guard documents that CBS used in a campaign to smear the President’s military service. This was a real scandal, in which CBS backed away from the documents, an investigation was launched, and four people were fired from the network for their work on the story.

Left-wing bloggers have now made a name for themselves, and it is not pretty. They have taken the scalp of an on-line conservative journalist by the name of Jeff Gannon, who was virtually unknown until about three weeks ago. His crimes were that he was too pro-Republican, attended White House briefings, and asked questions unfair to Democrats. This became, for a group called Media Matters, the “White House press room scandal.” Never mind that “journalist” Helen Thomas has been giving anti-Bush political diatribes disguised as questions at these briefings for years.

A massive left-wing investigation of Gannon’s personal and business affairs was launched and was said to reveal that he was associated with some homosexual-sounding website addresses. Ironically, the Media Matters group is run by former conservative and once-closeted homosexual David Brock. 

The Gannon “scandal” would be laughable, were it not for the fact that Gannon’s personal privacy has been invaded and his mother, in her 70s, had to endure harassing telephone calls from those on the political left trying to dig up dirt.

The campaign against Gannon demonstrates the paranoid mentality and mean-spirited nature of the political left.

But the mainstream media did their dirty work, too. Liberal journalists at The Boston Globe, using material from Brock, weighed in with their own account of this controversial journalist and his employer, Talon News, owned by a Texas Republican activist named Bobby Eberle. Despite all the innuendo and controversy, the fact remains that Gannon had done some excellent political stories on a wide range of subjects, including the CIA and former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. Gannon could have survived the charge of having a conservative bias but when his personal life and family became targets, he decided to call it quits.

It all started when Gannon’s writings were “exposed” for having too many statements taken directly out of White House press releases. Gannon apparently believed that covering the White House meant that he should actually report, in long and complete sentences, what the White House actually said on various public policy issues. He was also accused of tossing softball questions to White House spokesman Scott McClellan and the President himself.

You could see the imaginations working overtime on the left. They suspected that Gannon was another Armstrong Williams?someone secretly getting federal money to promote the Bush line. Gannon had to be either a paid agent of the Bush administration or a phony journalist or both. In any case, in their view, he had to be exposed and discredited.

Was Gannon a Bush plant? Was he secretly on the White House payroll?  The conspiracy theories were fed by the fact that Jeff Gannon wasn’t his real name; he used a professional name because he didn’t like the sound of his real name?James Guckert.

“The left’s whole focus is wrong in this case,” Eberle told AIM. “This is a private company owned by me, with no ties to the Republican Party. We’re on no one’s payroll, except what I choose to pay people.” Eberle has been running Talon News and GOPUSA  for over four years. They send out news and commentary and “the conservative message” to about half-a-million subscribers a day.

Despite the Republican-sounding name, GOPUSA, no accusations of direct links to the GOP establishment or President Bush have turned out to be true. Brock and his allies eventually got Gannon’s scalp because of the sex charges. These had nothing to do with his work for Talon News and reporting from the White House, and Eberle never conducted an investigation of Gannon’s financial or personal business before hiring him. But the charges were embarrassing and apparently concerned some private issues that Gannon didn’t want to discuss publicly. And despite what has been implied, he rarely wrote about anything related to the homosexual issue.

Eberle, a major practitioner of the “new media,” apparently didn’t realize that he was threatening the dwindling power of the old media. Gannon didn’t realize that the purpose of the White House press corps is to make Republicans look bad. And when the left-wing media see their power slipping away, they go for blood and nothing is out of bounds. The political left doesn’t respect personal privacy when the potential victims are conservatives.

Faced with criticism that the campaign may have had gone “too far” in personally attacking Gannon, as noted by Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, some of the left-wing bloggers are saying that they were just concerned about security at the White House. How could the White House allow access to news briefings to someone using a pseudonym? Assuming this concern is genuine?and that’s a big “if”?Eberle says that Gannon used his real name and Social Security number when applying for White House press passes. “There was never a deception,” he said.  

So the case against Gannon boils down to being too pro-Republican, writing stories with a conservative slant, and being linked to conduct, homosexuality, that is accepted and celebrated by those who were going after Gannon in the first place. The standard of the liberal thought police is evidently that someone’s private life should be protected?except when the accused is a conservative. The old media and their new found friends in the left-wing blogging community will stop at nothing to maintain their political power.

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