When I first started writing about the elusive “Jeff Gannon” last week, I had no idea how serious the situation was. Since writing the original article, “Why is Jeff Gannon Lying,” I have been filtering through an enormous body of research done by the bloggers of Daily Kos and the staff of Media Matters for America, and all of us following this story have settled on some basic, but very important, questions that must be answered about this guy. Since this erupted in the blogosphere and in the alternative press (and also the mainstream media to some extent), Gannon has closed up shop (www.jeffgannon.com) and apparently resigned or has been fired from Talon News. However, these questions still need answers, as they may cut to the heart of the Bush Administration propaganda scandal.
For instance, who is Jeff Gannon? The name “Jeff Gannon” has been confirmed by Gannon himself as a pseudonym, possibly for one James D. “JD” Guckert. Whether or not Guckert is “Gannon” has yet to be absolutely confirmed, but several pieces of evidence are pointing in that direction, including the statement of an unnamed source to Atrios this week, as well as a post made to Gannon's old website, conservativeguy.com, signed JD Guckert.
How is it that the news site Talon News was registered on March 29, 2003, and five days later, April 3, 2003, “Gannon” is first credentialed and appears in the White House press room? Was Talon News just a vehicle created for the sole purpose of slipping a plant into the White House press room? If so, who was behind it?
How did Gannon gain entrance to the WH press room without having a background check done? Working under a pseudonym, the Secret Service (or whatever body processes members of the press who will be in close proximity to the President of the United States) would certainly have a hard time locating background information on a potential credentialed member of the press. And if Gannon gave the White House his real identity, why do they claim not to have information such as his real name and social security number? If Gannon just walked in off the street, surely these things would be required of him -- this begs the question -- did Gannon gain access to the White House press room on his own merits somehow, or was he ushered in by the Administration?
Why did Talon News erase Gannon's bio (original cached here) and change its About section (original cached here) as this story was breaking? Why are Gannon's websites slipping into the abyss, one by one? Why is Talon News wiping all of the archived Gannon articles posted to their website? What do they have to hide?
When I began following this story, the original About page for Talon News had already been altered. When I saw it for the first time, it read like this, “Talon News is committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news coverage to our readers.” Last month it read, “Talon News also focuses on those stories often overlooked by other media outlets. We concentrate on news that conservatives care about without putting a liberal spin on it” (cached here). Today the page just says, “Talon News also focuses on those stories often overlooked by other media outlets.” So what is it? What is Talon News, and what are they trying to accomplish?
Gannon's journalism expertise comes not from a wealth of experience, but from a 2-day, $50.00 course he took at the Leadership Institute's Broadcast Journalism School. The fact that he is a graduate of the Leadership Institute, a conservative “school” is divulged in his cached Talon News bio.
There are also ties between James Guckert and Bedrock Corporation --another indication that this may, indeed, be Jeff Gannon's real identity.
What's with Gannon's “poetry” from conservativeguy.com [www.conservativeguy.com/gay.htm, www.conservativeguy.com/BLACK.htm)? Is Gannon gay? This question has been kicked around for a few days, mostly because of Gannon's links to the site hotmilitarystud.com. No one really cares about his sexual orientation, but it does change the angle a bit -- for instance, there are quite a few comments by Gannon in archived GOPUSA articles where he is bashing homosexuals, praising Bush's fight against gay marriage, etc. Does “Jeff” even know who “Jeff” is?
There is evidence that another site linked to Gannon, the Free Speech Foundation website, is not registered with the IRS or listed as a nonprofit organization. The Free Speech Foundation website was, until a few days ago, registered to J. Daniels, the same name jeffgannon.com is registered to, and has since been changed to the name I. Christian. Is Jeff Gannon not only a liar and a shill but an illegal fundraiser as well? If so, is the money going directly into his pocket, or is he using it to the benefit of the Republican party?
So many questions, so few answers -- Gannon declined to make a statement when I contacted him earlier this week. His only response to my very civil request was, “I see your article: Why is Jeff Gannon Lying?” I responded to him promising fairness to his statement and telling him my concern was to learn the truth, not to smear him if he hasn't done anything wrong. He chose not to answer, so his input has not been included in this report.
First Gannon claims to be excited by all of the publicity he was getting because of this story. Then he refuses to make a statement to me personally. Then he begins to vanish. Because his name is a pseudonym, “Jeff Gannon” can evaporate back into the woodwork from whence he came three years ago. The Kossacks have put out a message urging anyone who is following this story to do screenshots of Gannon's articles, his web pages, his Free Republic posts, etc., because these things are quickly vanishing from the public domain, and are needed to make any real case against Gannon and any others who may have been involved.
Katherine Brengle is a 23-year-old college student and writer from Massachusetts. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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