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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Scandal, Republican Style

This one has everything a sensationalist muckracker could hope for: An exposed CIA undercover agent, a dramatic court ruling, conflicting principles that cross the ideological divide, angry recriminations, and a gay prostitute with privileged access to the president.

David Brock's Media Matters for America is operating as a clearinghouse for information on the issue. He's been reporting on it since January 28th.

Here is my one paragraph summary of events so far: The Armstrong Williams bribery case led to suspicions about Gannon's credentials. Gannon was the "Washington Bureau Chief" for a dodgy outfit called Talon News who pitched "softball questions to the press secretary and the president. Jeff Gannon's real name is J.D. Guckert. Americablog and Atrios and Daily Kos led a coordinated effort by bloggers to investigate Gannon/Guckert. What they found wasn't pretty: Guckert's press credentials are a sham, his financing comes from a wealthy Texas millionaire linked to the president, his entire journalism training was a two-day seminar--and oh yes, despite the anti-gay news articles he wrote for Talon, he's a male prostitute. His waxed chest, and, ahem, other parts, are regrettably plastered all over the internet.

So much for restoring honor and integrity to the White House. The Guckert case has raised the hackles of the moribund democratic leadership. Unlike the press, the Democrats are actually focusing on the most important aspects of the case.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg was on the offensive last week:

"I am writing to request that you immediately release documents to my office relating to the White House press credentials of James D. Guckert, a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon." Specifically, I am seeking documentation related to the question of which name Mr. Guckert/Gannon used when applying for credentials, and which name was on the official White House press credentials he received," wrote Lautenberg.

"As you may know, Mr. Guckert/Gannon was denied a Congressional press pass because he could not show that he wrote for a valid news organization. Given the fact that he was denied Congressional credentials, I seek your explanation of how Mr. Guckert/Gannon passed muster for White House press credentials,"

Read It:

Two days ago, the House Democratic Whip followed suit by demanding an investigation of Gannon's role in the leaked Plame memo:

“Valid questions are being raised regarding the Bush White House’s relationship with James Guckert, also known as “Jeff Gannon,” and his access to documents that revealed the identity of Undercover CIA Operative Valerie Plame.

Read it:

As you might expect, the right wing bloggers are attempting to portray this as an attack on Gannon's sexual orientation, and criticize the mean-spiritedness of the lefty blogs. Ignore them, and for a change, listen to your legislators. These are the two essential questions: 1. How, and why, did Gannon get access to the White House? 2. What is his connection to the Plame memo?

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