Accuracy in Media

Did Jeff Gannon use a fake name to get a White House press pass? That’s the claim that has surfaced in the coverage of this controversial journalist.  But Gannon’s former employer, Bobby Eberle, says he used his real name and Social Security number to get through security procedures at the White House. He chose the name “Gannon” to use publicly for obvious reasons; Guckert just doesn’t sound appealing.

The stories about his personal life don’t sound appealing, either. But it’s highly ironic that Media Matters, which is run by a formerly closeted homosexual, should have started the anti-Gannon campaign. We don’t know if Gannon was a “gay escort’ or if he was trying to leave that lifestyle. But we do know that the homosexual angle was used to destroy him. And this came from liberals who claim to be tolerant. 

The use of “fake” names has not been uncommon in journalism. The book, Hawk’s Authors’ Pseudonyms, is called “the most comprehensive volume on authors and their pseudonyms?with significant additions of Poets, Playwrights, Journalists, Columnists, Screenwriters, Cartoonists and more.” Samuel Langhorne Clemens was probably the most famous author who used a pen name. Jeff Gannon is no Mark Twain, but the use of a pen name is something that is not just reserved for successful authors.

Another charge made against Gannon is that he was a secret White House agent. There’s no evidence of that, either. Gannon worked for Talon News, which, along with GOPUSA, are owned by Eberle, a Texas Republican activist. While the operation clearly has a Republican or conservative bias, there’s no evidence that it was created as part of a Bush White House plot. On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume claimed that Talon News was “funded by a conservative supporter of the president who has a lot of money.” Eberle might dispute that. He started his company four years ago and only now is turning a profit.

If bias is supposed to get one banished from the White House press briefings, Hume pointed out that Helen Thomas has been attending these briefings for years and frequently uses them to offer “very opinionated” questions. Mara Liasson of National Public Radio shot back: “Helen Thomas is Helen Thomas,” which doesn’t prove a thing. She may have been a so-called straight-news reporter years ago but turned to bashing Bush and writing an opinion column. “We know who she is,” Liasson claimed. But Gannon’s employer, Talon News, was carried on-line. There was no secret about that. His use of a pen name shouldn’t have confused anybody about his political orientation.

Host Chris Wallace piped in, saying that a line had to be drawn in terms of who is a legitimate journalist. He said that if too many on-line journalists get into these White House press briefings, the “real reporters” there wouldn’t be able to get any work done. Wallace should rethink his position. That’s a slippery slope that will play into the hands of the “real reporters” from the liberal media who want to dominate the White House press corps and exclude from their ranks those with a different political orientation. If they had their way and could get away with it without a controversy, they would probably vote to exclude Fox News.

You think that’s far-fetched?  Last year, Geneva Overholser, former ombudsman of The Washington Post, resigned from the board of the National Press Foundation because it planned to honor Brit Hume at its annual dinner. As reported by USA Today, she said that Hume didn’t deserve the award because he and Fox are guilty of “ideologically connected journalism,” Overholser said, “Fox wants to do news from a certain viewpoint, but it wants to claim that it is ‘fair and balanced.’ That is inaccurate and unfair to other media who engage in a quest, perhaps an imperfect quest, for objectivity.”

So there you have it, Chris Wallace. Be careful what you wish for. Once the White House Correspondents Association starts excluding the likes of Jeff Gannon, don’t think that Fox News will still be guaranteed a seat at White House briefings and presidential press conferences. 

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