Am I the only one who finds this whole Gannon/Guckert situation hilarious? I can't imagine I am. I mean, on how many levels could one person and one situation be simultaneously ridiculous? Let's count them.
Gannon/Guckert himself. How pathetic is this guy? First of all, the gay escort personal ads are about the funniest thing I've ever read. I mean, who wouldn't respond to an ad for an "aggressive, verbal, dominant top" who says he "won't leave marks - only impressions"? For that matter, who wouldn't pay him $1200 a weekend for it? But hey, I'm a libertarian and as far as I'm concerned, all of that should be perfectly legal. But if you're going to lie about it, you should certainly lie better than he did. He told a reporter that all those gay porn and escort sites he had just registered for someone else when he was setting up a web hosting business a few years ago. Bzzzt - thank you for playing. Once the pictures of his own escort ads came out, that became a punchline. And the threats of lawsuits for "political asassination" are hilariously ignorant. If I was one of the blogs being threatened with a lawsuit, I'd be begging the guy to sue me. And you have to love this kind of whining:
"'There are people out there who will turn people's lives inside out,' Guckert said. 'They tried to intimidate me, punish me. Then they tried to embarrass me, and they've done a pretty good job of that.'"
No Jim/Jeff, you've done a brilliant job of embarrassing yourself, I'd say. Even more amusing than all of that is his desperate desire to pretend to be a legitimate reporter rather than the obvious hack wannabe he really was. How funny are questions like this:
Feb. 10, 2004: "Q Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?"
Why not just preface the question with "I hope I can read your handwriting, Mr. McLellan"? Which brings us to...
The "news" website he was working for. Well, working is perhaps the wrong term. Unlike Guckert's escort customers, Talon News, a little webrag that wants so much to be the Worldnutdaily when it grows up, evidently did not pay him. The same person owns gopusa.com, one of the myriad of right wing sites (like bushcountry.org and the inaptly named intellectualconservative.com) that features extraordinarily bad writing and has supplied me with several past Robert O'Brien Trophy winners (Hans Zeiger, Tamara Wilhite and Jen Shroder, for instance). I had to laugh seeing Robert Eberle, the owner of the site, on TV saying that he was against softball questions and that, until the last question he asked of Bush himself, he thought the guy was doing a good job. Uh, yeah.
The reaction from the right side of the blogosphere. This is perhaps the funniest of them all to me. They're leaping to this guy's defense like mad. Can you even begin to imagine what Powerline or the NRO would be saying if Clinton was president and his press secretary had been regularly calling on a fake reporter using a fake name who was in reality a gay prostitute so he could ask questions like:
Mr. Lockhart, the Republicans are bringing the President up on charges of lying about his sex life, yet a long list of prominent Republicans including Bob Livingston, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde and many others have likewise been caught having affairs with mistresses that they hid from their wives and the public for years. Would you care to comment?
One could scarcely exaggerate the outrage that would flow from the very people who are now frantically trying to protect this guy.
Both the pro-blog and anti-blog folks. I'm not sure which is more absurd, the major media types freaking out that an internet hack got into the white house to ask questions, something only "real" journalists (you know, those who have those ever-so-valuable journalism degrees) do, or the ones crowing about how this situation proves the power of bloggers and portends the end of the mainstream media as an institution. Both positions are quite overblown. For the MSM types who are outraged that a blogger might get into the white house to ask questions, I would only note that Guckert/Gannon is only slightly more of a prostitute than most of the White House press corps; he at least got paid to be on top, for crying out loud.
With all the talk we hear constantly about the "liberal" media, the truth is that the media generally acts as a lapdog and bullhorn for the government. Oh sure, they'll jump on scandals like a shark to a bloody piece of meat, but by and large they credulously repeat whatever they're told, and most of them have this idea that being fair and balanced means reporting the talking points of both parties even if one of them is demonstrably absurd. Frankly, I would rather have people asking obviously slanted questions like this guy did (I'll laugh my ass off at them, but at least they've made it obvious) than mindlessly repeating what they know is false under the pretense of objectivity. The entire point of a daily press briefing is for the press secretaries to say things they know are not true so the reporters can go on the air and repeat the things they also know are not true. It's obvious that the public is the one getting screwed, but who exactly is the prostitute here?
To those who, as in the Dan Rather situation and the Eason Jordan situation, are crowing like roosters over the powerful cultural juggernaut of bloggers who will forever change the world and overthrow the corrupt "legacy media"....get over yourself (ourselves?). I'm so tired of this mutual circle jerk among my fellow bloggers about the sheer majesty and power of blogging, praising ourselves for our courage and virtue. Most of what passes for writing in the blogosphere is utter crap and most bloggers are mindless drones, just like most people in the mainstream media. Yes, bloggers can act as important checks on the accuracy of what is reported in the press, but for every time they've been right and corrected a story, there are a million bloggers out there who were wrong on the same ones.
The White House's access procedures. In yesterday's column, Maureen Dowd recounted how the White House refused to renew her press credentials to attend White House press functions, after she had covered multiple presidents, and then finally after a couple of years decided that she could have them - after she waited for a 6 month new background check. But they gave daily passes to a guy they knew was using a fake identity without doing any sort of background check to turn up that he was actively working as a prostitute? On the heels of the multiple payoffs to conservative commentators to push the administration's policies in the press, it looks more than a bit suspicious, doesn't it? I do, however, have to give credit to the press secretary for taking this guy's questions and answering them with a straight face. But seriously, how bad would it suck to be the White House press secretary? Practically every word you say is a lie and you know it, regardless of what administration you work for (and as all good PR flacks know, it doesn't matter what the product is as long as you sell it well). How does someone live with themselves doing that job?
So anyway, I just find this whole situation hilarious, from the pathetic wannabe at the center of it, to the handwringing from the media, to the ridiculous proclamations from the guy's boss, to the fact that this guy got into the White House without being on a tour. And Jeff or James or whatever your name is....please sue me. Please?