Wednesday, February 16, 2005

National Review on Gannon

Here is Tim Graham of the Media Research Center giving his take on the Guckert/Gannon mess in The National Review:

"Liberal media elitists say they want only 'real' journalists, not 'partisan operatives,' to be allowed in the White House briefing room. But what they really might wind up accomplishing with their 'Gannongate' pounding was the silencing of rare right-leaning voice in the White House press corps. To them, you can only be 'authentic' by pounding the president from the left."

Graham then goes on to give a nice list of cheesy sympathetic "questions" from Clinton-era press conferences. And he's right: some of them are laughable and pathetic.

But this is a red herring. Graham has equated the Gannon issue to what his organization does: monitoring for partisan bias and then raising holy hell about it. Only that isn't the issue here: Gannon and Talon News claimed to be something they weren't. Bloggers sniffed it out and discovered the guy was using a fake name and couldn't get credentials to cover congress. Then it turns out the that he's linked to the Valerie Plame fiasco.

I don't hear left wing bloggers calling for Talon News to be tossed out of the press room (disclaimer: I haven't read every left wing blog, but that isn't the tone of what i've been reading). As for me, I don't have any problem with partisan media participating in press conferences. I'm just like Graham: I don't like it when things pretend to be other things.

But now we know exactly what Talon News is. We know exactly who J.D. Guckert is. We can see that the White House is not forthcoming about its relations to Talon, and that Gannon evaporated the instant he came under scruitiny. We can see how the MSM handles this. We can see how the Bush apologists on the right are trying desperately to spin this into a left-wing hypocrisy story or a gay-bashed-by-lefties story.

It's neither. At its best, this is a story of how the White House rewarded a wealthy GOP political donor with a press pass for his personal "news service" and the guy didn't have the brains to hire a reporter who used his own name and didn't run a homosexual escort service. At worst, it reeks of arm's length collusion.

The word at the center of the new media is "transparency." It's a difficult thing. I'm all for it, but even I don't know if I'm ready to live up to it. Whatever: Transparency is coming. It's the new standard, and we're all going to have to get there.

Gannon is a head on a pike, right alongside Dan Rather's. But let's get the correct message.