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February 15, 2005

They love a man in uniform

Posted by Phil on February 15, 2005 9:06 AM

Here's MediaMatters on whether Guckert/Gannon does or doesn't say he did or didn't receive a classified memo regarding the Plame outing. And another sum-up, from Salon's Scott Rosenberg:

Eason Jordan's trial-by-blog is simply the latest example of the convulsive and painful but inevitable and long-brewing transformation of professional journalism from a protected sphere into a more open environment. That's important, but it's hardly news any more. The Gannon story, on the other hand, offers us a peek into the next chapter of the story--the one in which an opportunistic political establishment, sensing the vulnerability of the media, grabs the moment to reshape the public's very grasp of reality.

Let's remember that, while its press secretary is calling on the Jeff Gannons of the world for cover, the Bush administration is also offering under-the-counter payoffs to columnists and sending out video press releases in which PR people masquerade as reporters. This isn't a simple matter of a gaffe here and there; it's a systematic campaign to discredit the media, launched by an administration that desperately needs to keep propping up its Potemkin Village versions of reality (We'll find weapons of mass destruction! We'll cut the deficit! We'll save Social Security by phasing it out! Really!). When you're pursuing an Orwellian agenda, your first target must be anyone who has the standing to point it out. Messengers are a pain--but if you shoot enough of them (figuratively speaking!), and send out enough impostors, you can have any message you want.

As even the padded pants at Power Line apparently admit (when they're not wet-dreaming their way back through the Eason Jordan affair), it's hard to know what kind of story this is. (Don't you love inter-blog sniping? Just kiddin', Power Dudes! New Media rules! We gave you Jordan, now you give us McClellan!)

Maybe Guckert/Gannon is actually a gay-activist mole who was able to infiltrate a White House more porous than anyone imagined. Maybe he's a self-loathing homosexual desperately hoping to balance his twilight proclivities by producing reactionary propaganda by day.

His manfully calibrated bio--"I'm religious, but not TOO religious"--seems at odds with his mewling (was it on CNN?) about being followed to church by a pack of left-wing bloggers. If a mob did follow him to church, recall that Guckert/Gannon was known to left-wing bloggers only by his phony name at the time. He appears to have sought a much higher profile in other circles; maybe his avid self-promotion produced a more rabid following than he imagined. It's unclear, to paraphrase the "journalist" Guckert/Gannon, which reality he wished to be divorced from, but ironic that the two may have collided in his chapel dooryard.

Mr. Guckert/Gannon's public odyssey, which will end with an AM talk show or perhaps a wee-hours slot on Fox News following "Cal Thomas After Dark," has only begun. Although that's certainly a tempting toboggan ride to follow, a small and shrinking number are still wondering who, in their fool head or in their right mind, allowed him--with his fake name, shaky credentials, and shady past--to set foot even once, let alone daily, for months, into the White House. Especially this White House.

Actually, it's probably as simple as the Rove propaganda wing, in their lust for the big fix, taking his patron (and their pal) Bobby Eberle's word that "Gannon" was ramrod-straight. No doubt they were eager to swallow it--after all, his build and bio are equally ripe meat for the red-state faithful and the more bluish libertines to whom he pandered online. That he "studied journalism" under the guy who made those funny Purple Heart buttons so Republicans could mock a war hero's wounds at their national convention probably meant more to this White House than the fact that he only spent 50 hours doing it. The fact that the Hill denied him a press pass probably just made him more attractive--a real maverick! They don't follow "the rules" like those Hill-staff sissies. Golly, and just look at that lantern jaw!

It's no surprise that that's all it takes to earn their rubberstamp. It's not news that ham-fisted hubris and sloppy system-rigging are rampant with this White House, and their tough-guy fetish is also well known. Look at how thoroughly not-vetted Bernard Kerik was before The President announced his nomination to The Most Important Job In The Age Of Terror. The comparison is quite apt, on all levels, though I haven't seen it made anywhere else.

So, there promises to be a few more amusingly artful accounts of mistakes made and behavior regretted before it evaporates into the ether. That'll be fun, and that'll be that.

Whether news that Guckert was able to go from posting his gay male escort services online to being ushered into the White House under a phony name on behalf of a fake news organization--and was never asked to pass an FBI background check--constitutes a real "story" among the Republican Party faithful, or the mainstream press corps, remains to be seen.

--Eric Boehlert, Salon, 2/15/05

Will it bother anyone that this White House, to whom we continue, against all reason, to entrust our national and personal security, so foolishly and publicly allowed its sanctum to be penetrated by one so befouled according to their own dogma?

Yes, well, that's a question.