Skip to comments.Loose "Gannon": White House Reporter Admits He Used Fake Name
Posted on 02/10/2005 5:55:51 AM PST by Pikamax
By Joe Strupp and Greg Mitchell
Published: February 10, 2005 updated 10:00 PM ET
NEW YORK Jeff Gannon, the controversial White House correspondent for the obscure Web site Talon News who resigned from his job Tuesday, confirmed late Wednesday, in a phone interview with National Public Radio, that he has been using a false name. A few hours later, Howard Kurtz, writing in The Washington Post, confirmed earlier tips, arising from liberal blogs, that the reporter's real name is indeed James D. Guckert.
Despite the ruse, "Gannon" still managed to gain access to many White House briefings and was one of the few reporters allowed to ask President Bush a (very friendly) question at a press conference two weeks ago.
NPR reported Wednesday that when Gannon was turned down for Capitol Hill credentials--a move first reported by E&P last week--he had used the name James Guckert. He admitted to NPR that Gannon was not his real name, and left it at that.
This "begs further investigation," James Pinkerton, a media critic for Fox News, told the online magazine Salon. He recalled that in the six years he worked for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the White House was "strict about who got in. It's inconceivable to me that the White House, especially after 9/11, gives credentials to people without doing a background check....If [Gannon] was walking around the White House with a pass that had a different name on it than his real name, that's pretty remarkable."
Dan Milbank, the former White House correspondent for The Washington Post, said the "scandal" of the whole episode was that it was blogs, and not the White House, that ultimately exposed Gannon's ruse. Milbank, on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC program, said he'd seen Gannon at the White House as recently as Monday.
Gannon, amazingly, also has ties to the Valerie Plame/CIA scandal.
Adding another twist, NPR's David Folkenflik, in his report Wednesday night, referred to revelations arising from liberal blogs earlier in the day, connecting Gannon to sexual Web sites such as HotMilitaryStud.com, among others.
"These sites are registered to an address in Delaware that's the same as one held by a James Guckert," Folkenflik said. "And that's the name that Gannon used to apply for press credentials on Capitol Hill....As for those Web sites, Gannon said he created them for clients of a software company he used to work for. And Gannon said his Christian faith has enabled him to receive forgiveness for the sins of his past."
The New York Daily News' story on Thursday carried the headline, "Bush press pal quits over gay prostie link." Washington reporter Helen Kennedy wrote: "A conservative ringer who was given a press pass to the White House and lobbed softball questions at President Bush quit yesterday after left-leaning Internet bloggers discovered possible ties to gay prostitution."
On Tuesday, in a message on his Web site (www.jeffgannon.com), Gannon announced: "Because of the attention being paid to me I find it is no longer possible to effectively be a reporter for Talon News. In consideration of the welfare of me and my family I have decided to return to private life. Thank you to all those who supported me."
E&P has not been able to reach Gannon since.
Gannon's alleged real name, Guckert, had been proposed earlier Wedneday by investigators at DailyKos, Eschaton and other blogs. They also showed that Talon News is run by a Texas GOP activist.
Also Wednesday, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to President Bush asking him to "address the matter" in light of "mounting evidence that your Administration has, on several occasions, paid members of the media to advocate in favor of Administration policies."
Gannon first gained attention several weeks ago when he asked a question at a presidential press conference that some in the press corps considered so friendly it might have been planted. Later E&P revealed that Gannon had been turned down last year for a congressional press pass because he could not prove his employer was a valid news organization. That denial barred him from receiving a White House "hard pass," allowing regular access to White House press events.
But Gannon had been obtaining daily White House press passes, a situation that had irked some veteran White House reporters who also questioned his credentials or considered him to be too partisan in his questioning.
On Olbermann's program Wednesday night, however, Milbank said he had seen Gannon with a pass and photo I.D. that certainly looked like it was of the permanent variety.
On Thursday, the Boston Globe reports that Gannon told them he had gotten no special consideration at the White House. He had applied for a background check and daily passes under the name on his driver's license, not his "professional name," he said.
Earlier in the day, on CNN, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz said that White House spokesman Scott McClellan had told him that "President Bush didn't know who Jeff Gannon was when he called on him at that news conference."
Gannon's original refusal to deny he used a fake name sparked investigations by a number of blogs, that probed his true identity. In addition, those sites posted allegations that Web sites such as hotmilitarystud.com, militaryescorts.com, and militaryescortsm4m.com, were registered to the same owner as Gannon's personal Web site.
"The bloggers," Kurtz writes today, "also have linked to a since-withdrawn America Online photo of a man who appears to be Gannon, posing in his underwear, with a screen name bearing the initials 'JDG.'"
In her letter to President Bush, Rep. Slaughter charged that "it appears that 'Mr. Gannon's' presence in the White House press corps was merely as a tool of propaganda for your Administration."
Dan Froomkin, the Washington Post columnist, said Wednesday in an online chat, "the heat should be on" Scott McClellan: "Why did he call on Gannon? Did they ever pre-arrange anything? Did they have contact with his parent organization?"
Another intriguing issue is his involvement, along with better known Robert Novak, Judith Miller and others, in the Valerie Plame/CIA episode. His name turned up on a list of reporters targeted for questioning by the federal prosecutor in the case. Froomkin of the The Washington Post wrote last spring that "the reason Gannon is on the list is most likely an attempt to find out who gave him a secret memo that he mentioned in an interview he had with Plame's husband, former ambassador and administration critic Joseph Wilson."
The Talon News site today scrubbed its archives of many "Gannon" articles and removed his biography. It said it was already looking for a replacement for its star reporter.
In an e-mail to E&P last Friday, not published until now, Gannon wrote: "Much has been made about whether I use a professional name or not, but I am reluctant to provide information one way or another because of the threats that have been made against my person, property and family in both internet postings ... as well as in e-mails that I have forwarded to law enforcement. I'm sure you understand."
Olbermann on his TV show Wednesday referred to Gannon as "HBO's Ali G, without the satire."
I would think that most Christians feel this way.
Amazing how much effort was put into this by the MSM. Shame they didn't spend this much effort looking into John Kerry's Vietnam War antics.
They never like it when it applies to them....
Unlike Dana Milbank who has written hate-Bush articles for 5 years now? Unlike the rest of the room which have some sort of past involvement with the democrat party on their resume.
Why all the fuss about this one guy? Eason Jordan just slandered America, yet nobody wants to report on it besides FNC and other new media.
yep, I got a feeling he and others are going to regret that thinking. This is the guy who said screw them about the four Americans who got killed in Fallujah. He is Howard Dean's biggest fan.
The information culture changes allowing good Pajama People work to see the light of day is advantageous to conservatives.
There is valid suspicion here that someone in the Administration and/or GOP did something wrong. We have to be ready to advance this story even if it hurts. We have to be ready to denounce not defend Armstrong Williams and Gannon, throw them overboard.
Well, we'll just have to set up a FreeRepublic News Service and pay one of the DC area members a coffee and no-doze stipend to cover various press conferences. And he or she won't need a journalism degree. Such a degree seems to improve a person's ability to think, speak, write, and reason not one iota.
Smart Christians wouldn't use a phony name to hide a shady past. That's just asking for somebody to start digging.
This detail is one of the more disturbing parts of the Gannon story. If untrue, it should be easy to disprove. Why hasn't Jeff Gannon stated here or elsewhere that he is in no way associated with these sites? Also, if someone claimed I posted a picture of myself on the web in my underwear, posting an actual photo alongside it should take care of that problem too.
The silence is annoying.
Didn't Teddy Kennedy and Joe Biden use pen names?
No wait, that was plagiarism...
Exactly! I imagine this episode has more than one belt-way "journalist" nervous as he!!.
He obviously didn't know the rules for covering the WH.
IF that's true, I agree with you.
NPR as the source, however, leaves the question open for me.
As Quilla says, one person can clear this all up..........
BTW, it is now open season on any "journalist" who has posed a biased
question in a White House press briefing......can you say BLOWBACK,
boys and girls? I knew you could.;)
Yep. And he is not doing it!
"He obviously didn't know the rules for covering the WH."
He didn't know the rules for covering a "Republican" White House.
Dan Milbank, the former White House correspondent for The Washington Post
I checked the source to be sure this is how they have it. The name is Dana Milbank.
Oops. You're right. I stand corrected.
He admitted to NPR that Gannon was not his real name, and left it at that. This "begs further investigation," James Pinkerton, a media critic for Fox News
Maybe Fox News can put Jerry Rivers, I mean Geraldo Rivera, on the case!
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