Howard Kurtz has a very long column today profiling Jeff Gannon/James Guckert. Most of what Kurtz writes on is the excellent investigative work of John Aravosis, but he makes some other important points.
The contretemps sparked questions about why the White House had regularly cleared him for briefings, especially since he had been denied a press pass on Capitol Hill, where reporters control the credentialing process.
Yes, yes, yes. Why was he given a pass ‘regularly’ when Capitol Hill credential officials refused? Was there an insider helping him?
Kurtz, I think, slightly misses the point here but then by quoting Aravosis brings the key question back into focus:
More than anything, though, it is Gannon’s personal online activities that has kept the story churning. Cliff Kincaid, editor of the Accuracy in Media report, wrote on the conservative group’s Web site: “The Gannon ‘scandal’ would be laughable, were it not for the fact that Gannon’s personal privacy has been invaded and his mother, in her 70s, had to endure harassing telephone calls from those on the political left trying to dig up dirt. The campaign against Gannon demonstrates the paranoid mentality and mean-spirited nature of the political left.”
But Aravosis said: “If you were just looking at this as a matter of his hypocrisy, the story’s over now that he’s gone. The larger issue is how did someone like this get access to the White House.”
And the last graf seems important too. Whenever I have been to the White House or been anywhere near the President, I had to supply full name, birthdate, and social security number. I assume that Secret Service then does some kind of thin screening process that either triggers red flags or not. According to this graf, Gannon/Guckert used his real name at the White House:
White House spokesman Scott McClellan told the trade publication Editor & Publisher that he didn’t know Gannon was using a pseudonym until recent weeks and that he was cleared into the White House on a daily basis using his real name. “People use aliases all the time in life, from journalists to actors,” McClellan said.
If that is the case, then the White House security team failed to catch various red flags about Gannon — the questionable news opreration he worked for, his outstanding State of Delaware liens, and his male prostitution activities — that all seemed pretty easy for Aravosis to find.
I think some of us should try and see if we can get into the White House press gaggles now — and see whether we are stopped, or whether we need lots of blaring red warning signs in our past to help us get through.
Kurtz is wrong, by the way, that Gannon’s nude pictures are what is keeping this story going. What is important is the revelation that the “leaker” in the White House pushed the Valerie Plame story on Gannon.
As an example, David Brock used to work for the more thuggish wing of the Republican right, and came around of his own accord. He now runs “Media Matters” and seems to be doing a great job.
Perhaps those who want to get to the bottom of the Plame scandal should try and turn Gannon. If he said what he knew, he’d become a star — on every talk show and reality sitcom — and probably make a fortune. That may be incentive enough.
Maybe rather than villifying this guy, we who want to know who undermined American national security and divulged the CIA identity of Joe Wilson’s wife should help him repent and reform and help him get on a better path.
Some of you will think this is silly — but it’s not.
— Steve Clemons