The sorry tale of James Gannon
I just received the PBS DVD collection, the American President the other day. The series is well done and is historically very accurate. Former Time Magazine editor Hugh Sidey the series' narrator, pulls no punches, in fact calling President John Tyler, an " ineffective loner" and Chester A. Arthur, "one of the most corrupt men ever to hold high office in the nation.". From this perspective I began thinking about what I consider to be the most scandalous thing the Bush Administration has done thus far in his four and a half years in office.
The mainstream media is busy focusing on Iraq, Social Security and Judicial appointments, instead of what should have been the biggest story of the year. I am speaking of the saga of James Guckert aka James Gannon, who was set up in White House press briefings to ask leading question to Scott McClellan. Guckert was credentialed as the White House Correspondent for GOPUSA, and the Talon News Service, both online publications funded completely by right wing interests. (GOPUSA's name gives its political bent away). Even worse Guckert had access to the White House directly afforded few legitimate reporters. Guckert spent over two years as a White House reporter and in my view helped get the President re-elected.
The idea of setting what is essentially a phony news service and having a reporter write under alias is a throwback to early years of the American Republic when the Federalists led by Hamilton and Republicans led by Jefferson published what were essentially propaganda newspapers under pseudonyms. What distinguishes this outrage from the 1790s though is that Gannon himself is not a journalist nor a political operative of some sort but actually an obscure office manager who ironically is gay (how does that reconcile with the right wing social agenda of this President?) that was set up a stool for the White House's desire to redirect questioning from actual journalists and make press briefings, all of which are in this day and age televised on C-Span into television ads for the President's re-election.
Even though the fundamental integrity of the White House press corps has been attacked by this outrage, only the great Helen Thomas the epitome of true journalism and reporting, and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann have paid attention to this story. It seems the cable news networks and many daily newspapers are becoming agents of this administrationthemselvesmseleves. Much of this attitude from the mainstream media is owed to coconglomerates who own multiple media outlets as many liberals have rightly claimed. However, an even bigger reason for this problem is owed to the pure laziness of today's journalists. If there is a tough story to investigate which may in fact rock the boat, most reporters these days stay away. In today's on demand world, reporters seem to be interested in puff pieces and quick stories that require very little work. Shame on them. Where is the outrage from the media and journalists throughout the country on the sham that being a member of the White House press corps is becoming thanks to Guckert and this administration?
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- I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.