Gannon, the White House correspondent for Talon News, a pro-conservative Web site linked to GOPUSA.com, has drawn attention recently among those who cover the president for what many consider to be an especially partisan approach. He is known for inserting blatantly pro-Bush statements in his inquiries at televised press briefings...
White House reporters say Gannon has regularly attended daily press briefings for more than a year. Then, during President Bush's televised press conference on Jan. 26, the president called on him for a question, bypassing dozens of far more experienced reporters.
"I think Jeff's questions suggest he has a pretty strong partisan bent that is at odds with the mission of White House correspondents who go to those meetings on behalf of the public," said Bob Deans, who has covered the White House for seven years for Cox Newspapers. "That is not the point of White House briefings."
GOPUSA.com and TalonNews.com both have ties to the Texas Republican Party, according to a report today in The Boston Globe. Gannon "has virtually no journalistic background ... and routinely reprints long passages verbatim from official press releases as original news articles on his website," the Globe charged.
His question to Bush at last week's press conference: "Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. ... Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. You've said you're going to reach out to these people. How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"
Gannon's credibility was first called into question last spring by The Standing Committee of Correspondents, a group of congressional reporters who oversee press credential distribution on Capitol Hill. Julie Davis, a reporter at The Sun of Baltimore and a member of that committee, said Gannon approached the group in April 2004 seeking a Capitol Hill credential for Talon News, but he was refused.
"We asked for evidence that they were an independent news organization," Davis told E&P. "That they were not connected to a political organization, and they could not provide that, so we denied them their credential." She also said Talon News could not prove it carried paid advertising or paid circulation, two other criteria for approval.
Because Talon did not receive a congressional press credential, it was unable to obtain a White House "hard pass," the permanent press credential that allows White House reporters regular access, Davis said. Instead, she said, Gannon has had to get a daily press credential, which is much easier to get but must be issued each day.
The White House Press Office has not responded to several requests for information on Gannon's credential status or why he is given daily press passes.
So, make no mistake about it- the issue was always about whether the Republican Party was using the pretense of a "reporter" to embed propaganda into the news. The extent of White House involvement in this, like the pundit-gates we've seen, is still unknown, and is still a major aspect of the story. But there's more...
This diary at Kos is the definitive guide to the very real likelihood that classified material was leaked to Mr. Gannon.
There should be an investigation, but whoever follows the money might, just might help set the stage for an impeachment in 2006.
And no, righties, the gay escort thing was really something extra that came out, but it does beg the question: will Jeff Gannon become another Matt Drudge - solo exiled "journalist" or a David Brock- repented ex-right-winger?