Gannongate: A Press Failure

From Holden:

I’ve been predicting for the past couple of weeks that the White House press corps would ask no further questions about James D. “J.D.” “Jeff Gannon” Guckert until and unless the ball is moved significantly downfield (ie: direct monetary ties between “Gannon” and the White House, or serious allegations of a sexual relationship between and senior administration officials). The White House press corps is simply uninterested in shining a spotlight on “Gannon”, and thus themselves.

The Nashua Advocate provides further support for this line of thinking by revelaing that the media had many of the facts of Gannongate for well over a year.

According to Dan Pfeiffer, former spokesman for Tom Daschle–the U.S. Senate Minority Leader until his defeat in the 2004 general election–Jeff Gannon’s use of assumed identities was information available to the media as far back as the summer of 2003.

It was then, more than a year and a half ago, that Pfeiffer received an e-mail from someone claiming to be a citizen of South Dakota, wanting to know the Daschle campaign’s reaction to a story by “Jeff Gannon.”

The concerned “citizen of South Dakota” turned out to be Gannon himself, as the Daschle campaign quickly uncovered by tracking the e-mail account from which the query had been sent, “jdg17@aol.com.” That e-mail address led Daschle campaign staffers to Gannon’s AOL website, at which point the entire campaign became instantly aware that Gannon, then a White House correspondent for “Talon News,” had attempted to deceive them. This incident, combined with Gannon’s “reporting” of the 2004 general election in South Dakota and the sheer oddity of his website, prompted the Daschle campaign to conclude Gannon was not a legitimate reporter.

In fact, said Pfeiffer, in the summer of 2003 there was “not a single minute” the campaign thought Gannon was a real journalist.

Nor did the campaign keep this information to themselves.

According to Pfeiffer, the campaign sent Gannon’s website address and news of his attempted deceit of the Daschle camp to several reporters.

[snip]

What was clear from The Advocate’s review of the website at least some members of the media had access to in the summer of 2003 is that, despite being a White House correspondent, Jeff Gannon was patently and unabashedly lying about his employment, posing half-naked, and linking to websites at which a user was only one click away from, as one website purred, “real people, real sex.”

Moreover, members of the media were aware that a current White House correspondent had contacted the political campaign of the U.S. Senate Minority Leader claiming to be a fictitious citizen of South Dakota.