(Feb. 28, 2003 WH press conference on C-SPAN)
Eric Boehlert has this piece in Salon that pulls together some super-sleuth reports proving that Jeff Gannon/James Guckert had access to White House press briefings before Talon News was even up and running.
Someone helped this guy.
There’s now documented evidence that Guckert attended White House briefings as early as February 2003. Guckert, using his alias “Jeff Gannon,” once boasted online about asking then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer a question at the Feb. 28, 2003, briefing. The date is significant because in order to receive a White House press pass, Guckert would have needed to prove that he worked for a news organization that, in the words of White House press secretary Scott McClellan, “published regularly,” in itself an extraordinarily low threshold.
Critics have charged that while Talon News may publish regularly, it boasts a nearly all-volunteer news team which includes not a single person with actual journalism experience. (The team does, though, have quite a bit of experience working on Republican campaigns.) In other words, the outfit is not legitimate nor independent, two criteria often used in Washington, D.C., to receive press credentials.
But what’s significant about the February 2003 date is that Talon did not even exist then. The organization was created in late March 2003, and began publishing online in early April 2003. Gannon, a jack of all trades who spent time in the military as well as working at an auto repair shop (not to mention escorting), has already stated publicly that Talon News was his first job in journalism.
That means he wasn’t working for any other news outlet in February 2003 when he was spotted by C-Span cameras inside the White House briefing room. And that means Guckert was ushered into the White House press room in February 2003 for a briefing despite the fact he was not a journalist.
Whereas it was once suspected that White House press officials in charge of doling out coveted press passes went easy on Guckert, a Republican partisan working for an amateurish news outlet who would routinely ask softball questions, it now appears those same unnamed White House officials simply ignored all established credential standards — including detailed security guidelines — and gave Guckert White House access, even though he had no professional standing whatsoever.
For more than a week White House officials have refused to answer any of Salon’s questions regarding the credential process used for Guckert’s press passes.
Boehlert’s super sleuths are noted here and here. But don’t forget who did the hard core sleuthing.
In any case, this is not something for the left to get giddy about. It’s an opportunity to begin turning some of the worst anti-fair-press traits of this White House around.
Think strategically. Have someone contact Gannon/Guckert and have him call me, or write. I’m in the book in D.C., or call the New America Foundation at 202-986-2700.
— Steve Clemons