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Gannon Shot

Feb
26
2005

The frenzy over James Gannon or Jeff Guckert’s getting into the White House press room has left me cold for a number of reasons and now The Nation’s Dave Corn has come along to explain why: ’cause it’s not a story, that’s why. Not yet, anyway.
Gannon is a bozo. That’s pretty obvious after five minutes of watching him on TV. He’s also a whore. But neither of these things make him a national security threat. He’s just a bozo who got a day pass to White House press briefings and in a society that claims it wants a free press – although these days I sometimes wonder about that – giving reporters access to the White House is a good idea.


I haven’t been reporting in Washington for some years so I really couldn’t say if the security clearances that I used to ocassionally go through to get to the White House press room have been upped since 9/11. Corn says, in essence, that they haven’t. The same group of goof-ball long-time hangers-on still fill out the briefings. When I was there the local crank was a woman who carried documents in a wheeled shopping cart using her long-dead husband’s press credentials issued, it was alleged, during the Roosevelt — Franklin Roosevelt — administration. She supposedly filed her “columns” to a group of small newspapers somewhere in the Midwest and I’m pretty sure no one at the White House ever read them. It’s goofy but, hey, it’s readers – not the government – who gets to decide who’s press and who’s not. And if you want it some other way – some set of strict, neat, criteria other than the general open guidelines used today – you might want to check in with the 1st Amendment. Bozos like Jeff Gannon are the spill-over of a free press. Embarassing? Yes. A national crisis? Hardly. And there’s something very creepy about the Left using Gannon’s promescuity, his homosexuality and his politics to demand better policing of who gets into the White House press room. That stuff cuts both ways.
I have my own snarky ideas about how Gannon got the access he did; there’s something a bit funny about its regularity that hints at some kind of friendship with someone in the press office. And I’d love to tell you that it’s a big, huge exclusive deal to get in to the pressroom. But, asking any low-level trade press writer — and D.C. is full of ‘em — it’s not. You got a good reason to be there, they’ll let you in. As they should. Corn gets at this when he notes that bloggers are getting credentialed to political conventions and it’s fair to note that some of those bloggers – Markos Moulitsas comes to mind — have been adament about anyone setting standards for what they’re doing Why now the hue and cry?
This story, of course, has gotten so much attention because these days no one knows what it means to be a reporter. Bloggers have spent a great deal of time trying to crack the code; that’s why you see so many posts about what it means to blog and who should do it and what it looks like. It’s why bloggers are so upset; they’re still struggling to find out the rules of the Big Media road and they’re a bit frustrated to find that they’re not written down. As the technology becomes more familiar, this conversation is (thankfully) fading away. But the doubts that have been stirred up are still with us. A guy like Gannon presents the biggest danger to the newest arrivals on the scene. He’s neither fish nor fowl and like some of them, he’s claiming to be something he’s not.
As for Big Media, of course, he personifies the threat bloggers pose: My God, anyone can ask the president a question! What kind of a democracy is this?

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:03 PM | Permalink

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