Accuracy in Media

NBC News reporter Campbell Brown reports that Jeff Gannon’s troubles with the liberal media “started when he was called on by the President at a January 26 news conference and took a swipe at Democrats” with a loaded question. In an interview, Campbell pressed Gannon with her own loaded question: “You don’t deny you were writing news with a perspective, with a partisan perspective?” It was as if Brown was implying that other members of the White House press corps would never even think of approaching the news in such a manner. Brown also asked several questions about whether Gannon was linked to pornographic websites or homosexuality.

If these questions are appropriate for Gannon, why not the rest of the White House press corps? Watching the “Gannongate” scandal continue to unfold, blogger Daniel J. Phillips suggests that the White House send out a questionnaire to members of the media and news organizations that reflects “the matters that find them in such breathless anxiety” when it comes to Gannon.

His proposed questionairre would be: “Ask if any reporter is a homosexual. Ask if any has ever exchanged sex for anything. Ask them to list all web sites with which they have ever had any involvement. Review all of their questions and articles for any bias, agenda, or tendentiousness. Ask for a list of all political associations, involvements, activities, financial giving. Once step five is completed, the same investigation must be performed on the organizations that employ them. Report the results.”

Actually, sending out a questionnaire would not be the same as was done to Gannon, whose mother and family were contacted and harassed by left-wingers trying to dig up dirt. Gannon, who may or may not be homosexual, was targeted because there are some in the left-wing blogging community who believe homosexuals can’t be conservatives in good conscience. But it’s perfectly fine to be a left-wing homosexual in support of the Democratic Party. Indeed, the group that started the campaign against Gannon is led by once-closeted homosexual and former conservative David Brock.

The Boston Phoenix, a counter-culture publication, has taken the anti-Gannon campaign to a new low, citing a left-wing blog as reporting “rumors” about an unnamed “high-ranking, married White House aide who may or may not have had a homosexual affair with Gannon” and who “may or may not” have provided Gannon with a confidential document about CIA employee Valerie Plame. There is no evidence cited for any of this, but that doesn’t seem to matter at this point.  Now, the anti-Gannon bloggers are breathlessly reporting that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid may jump on the bandwagon and sign a letter asking the White House to investigate Gannon.

If it were not for the fact that peoples’ personal lives and journalism standards are at stake, this whole brouhaha would be laughable.

So much misinformation has been published about this case that it’s difficult to know where to begin. The conservative website, WorldNetDaily, has even fallen into the trap, describing the case as involving “a journalistic neophyte who was ushered into the nation’s inner media sanctum using an alias.” In fact, Gannon used his real name, James Guckert, to apply for access on a daily or temporary basis. There’s no evidence he was “ushered” in by anybody. That “inner media sanctum” is the White House press corps, a liberal-dominated institution which has tolerated liberal cranks like Russell Mokhiber but went ballistic when Gannon’s pointed question to the President was picked up by Rush Limbaugh..

AIM’s disclosures about Mokhiber were noted in a February 25 Wall Street Journal article about the White House pressroom becoming a “political stage.” Mokhiber is a Ralph Nader associate who asks White House spokesman Scott McClellan off-beat questions about matters of interest to the far-left, such as growing hemp or charging President Bush with war crimes. One difference between Gannon and Mokhiber is that Gannon actually passed through a journalism training program at the Leadership Institute while Mohkiber admitted to me he’s never taken a journalism class in his life. Mokhiber, a lawyer, insists that he practices journalism anyway. His “Corporate Crime Reporter” newsletter sells for $795 a year. By contrast, Gannon wrote for GOPUSA and Talon News, available for free to those who sign up as email subscribers.

Despite his liberal bias, it would not be appropriate for conservatives to investigate Mokhiber’s sex life in order to drive him from White House briefings and press conferences. Gannon’s sex life became fair game for the political left because he came down on the conservative side of the political spectrum. But their plan may have backfired. Gannon’s once-dormant web site  is back and he’s threatening his tormentors and the privacy-invaders with lawsuits. Gannon may have the last laugh in an affair that has turned nasty. He could even return to White House briefings.

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