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The worst of the old names itself the voice of the new


I have, in the past, been a bit hard on bloggers. After all, bloggers think they can do the job of a professional journalist with nothing more than a computer, an inquiring mind, and facts supported by evidence. To add injury to insult, they have uncovered fake memos on CBS news, lie after lie by Bill O’Reilly, and yes, the GOP’s favorite prostitute since Mary Magdalene feeding talking points to the President in the form of a question.


Bloggers have no cozy relationship with the President, no corporation telling them what they can and cannot print, and no fear of lawsuit or Congressional pursuit--none of anything that self-important print journalists call “credentials”.

I had decided not to touch Jeff Gannon in the figurative sense out of weariness (because everyone’s done it,) and you can finish that sentence with the low-brow joke you feel most appropriate. My mind has since been changed by the endless pounding given to the subject of blogger credentials. (If we’re going to go on, you’ll have to ignore unintentional double entendres, people.) Bloggers exposed Gannon to be unqualified to work in the White House; now print and television pundits have to expose bloggers as unqualified to work in their underwear—or they might be next!

Last week, cable news programs were overpopulated with forgettable, self-important talking heads ranting about the lack of “credentials” behind the Gannon discovery. Apparently, this implies that the facts and evidence offered by bloggers are somehow made false by the fact that their presenters never pleasured Scott McClellan for a press pass. Though certainly not for the White House, I’ve gone through the credential process as a representative of newspapers, and I’ve also chosen the internet as my preferred outlet. As someone who carries two with me at all times, let me just tell you that anybody who believes their press pass somehow makes their work more true is either a deranged egomaniac or completely incompetent. Of course, I mean that in the nicest way possible.

If the press were still expected to do their job, Jeff Gannon would never have made headlines in any sense. But they’re not. The New York Times buried a story that seemed to indicate Bush had indeed cheated in the debates. A major news outlet carried a story about an Aryan supremacist’s founding of a whites-only dating site, just days before quoting the same man as a Swift Boat Vet, never making the connection. A cable comedy show that doesn’t even gather firsthand information shames the news coverage of four twenty four-hour news channels. And the only sources of trustworthy news about international policy are BBC and PBS. Let’s all think about that for a moment.

And now we have Jeff Gannon, so shameless a mouthpiece for the right that his stupidity has thrust him into the limelight. Finally, a journalist so unqualified, he made news! Unfortunately, the response of print journalists has often been to crucify not Gannon, who was especially inept at doing their job without those “credentials” that they’re so crazy about, but Americablog, which managed to outdo them without ever having to claim that they were only a pimp.

The general claim being regurgitated is that internet sites are digging up dirt from Gannon’s past that is personal and unrelated to his career, making claims that are unsupported as they go along. And I’ll agree that Gannon’s sex life isn’t the issue; it merely serves to illustrate how completely ludicrous the GOP propaganda machine is. Well, that and to make us all yearn for the good ol’ days, when the whores worked in the White House, not out of it.

By dismissing unregulated news as unreliable, the mainstream press allows itself to continue to mitigate the truth to a level acceptable to their lawyers and readership. Fox News claims that Gannon’s sites were “suggestive of gay pornography”. Which is true, if you consider photos of Gannon squatting bare naked on a football, urinating, and posing bent over to be merely suggestive. Then again, looking at those sites could cause trouble for a Fox employee. Fact finding is a big no-no in that organization.

Squeamishness about dealing with the Gannongate evidence might be leading those who don’t bother to go to primary sources to assume the least damaging in their estimates. After all, many news outlets were reportedly frightened of the sexual angles of the Gannon story. So instead, they opted last week to make a top story of the family-friend revelation that Koko the gorilla had a fetish for human breasts—nipples, specifically. Exposing part of the White House’s campaign against real journalism = Bad. Ruining any childlike innocence in my memory of Koko’s Kitten = Good. More insulting is the thought that gorilla-on-woman action was somehow less offensive to editors than man-on-man.

The good news is that websites are rarely squeamish about sexuality. The bad news is that corporate media’s mitigated reality allows Gannon’s allies (read: “Bush’s allies,” because it is highly doubtful that any of these people give a damn about blow-for-bucks Jeff,) to cloud the story to unbelievable degrees.

As usual, the misinformation spouted by the wrong side is best packed into Ann Coulter’s latest piece. The only way to win a “no big deal about Gannon” argument is to start from a false premise: “The media is hot on the trail of a gay escort service that Gannon may have run some years ago.” I tried marking up all of the misinformation packed into that sentence, but I was only half done before my paper was so covered with ink that it had actually started to bleed through my desk, and into my skin. When I began to suffer the effects of poisoning from the ink, I gave up hope.

Since sites linking to the profiles were registered by Gannon, said profiles featured his contact information, and had so many pictures of “Gannon’s little cannon” that after viewing them, I couldn’t turn my head for twenty minutes without seeing its outline scorched into my retina, I think we can drop the “may”. To verify, we can see that he’s also trying to sell the unused domain names right now.

Second, Gannon wasn’t running an escort service—the profiles linked from his sites were offering his services as a prostitute, complete with rates and all-too detailed reviews from admittedly satisfied customers. Gannon was, clearly, a Joy Boy. Prostitution is illegal in both locations Gannon advertised, although I’ll applaud any street whore who uses the “privacy of my own ass” defense in a court of law.

So, why can we not state as fact that Gannon was a Burlap Brother? Perhaps there were some concerns about the reviews’ authenticity. One John says that, like the Pretty Woman, Gannon didn’t kiss. Another says he did. Either one of them had bad teeth, Gannon changed his policy, or something is rotten in the state of Nevada.

And, “Some time ago”? Contact information in the “old” profile went bad in November of 2004. Can’t a man move on after three months, people? When, oh when will this reformed sinner be allowed to move on with his life? One ad for Gannon’s service as a Vent Renter is still active. I’ve got to hand it to Ann, she can pack more lies into a single sentence than any other pundit. Also, more catty (and funny) digs at MSNBC.

Coulter concludes her column by claiming that liberals are merely gay-baiting. She shoots, she misses. Gannon’s gay, and that’s great. If he also gets off on “night jobbing,” good for him. But sexual morals and hypocrisy angles are pretty hard to take when covering the back of an administration that paid thousands to cover up a pair of bronze boobies, and who has made gays a political target for the last three years.

But, hey, at least Gannon was white. “Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president,” Coulter’s original column claims. Her syndicator wisely cut the line, but Ann posted it on her website. That’s the kind of thinking she calls “controversial”. Wonder what an “old Arab” could have to say about all of this?

Continue to part two.


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