Gannon "symptomatic of a broader White House strategy to undermine the traditional media "
And here is the spin:
But the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert saga is far from over. It remains unclear how a graduate of a conservative training program, someone with no previous journalism experience, someone whose writings were often lifted directly from White House press releases, still managed to gain access to the White House press room, where he spent two years lobbing gentle questions at the press secretary and the President.
And some political analysts who monitor President Bush's relations with the media insist that Gannon (who, referring to Democrats, recently asked Bush, "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?") should not be viewed as an isolated case. Rather, they contend that Gannon is symptomatic of a broader White House strategy to undermine the traditional media by disseminating the Bush message in creative new ways.
Every president has sought to manipulate the media. But historians say that Bush, unhappy with what he calls "the filter," is courting controversy in his quest for innovative formats. Several conservative commentators have been paid to trumpet Bush policies in their work; one recipient, Armstrong Williams, is being investigated by the Federal Communications Commission. And two agencies have disseminated pro-Bush videos that look like TV newscasts, without disclosing the Bush sponsorship - a breach of federal law, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The White House has stated that these media decisions were made independently by the agencies. Nevertheless, former Republican strategist Jim Pinkerton, who later worked in the senior George Bush's administration, says: "It's quite clear this White House is exploring radical alternative ways to getting its message out - through the aggressive hiring of flacks like Williams, and the presence, or even planting, of friendly so-called journalists like Gannon.
"The Bush people are challenging all the old assumptions about how to work the press. They are ambitious - visionary, if you will - in ways that Washington has yet to fathom."
Larry Gross, who runs the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, says: "Richard Nixon hated the press, Bill Clinton hated the press - but they accepted the basic rules of the game. Bush has a strategy of discrediting, end-running, and even faking the news. Those prepackaged videos sent to local TV stations `looked' like news, much the way Gannon `looked' like a reporter. We're seeing something new: Potemkin-village journalism."
But Rich Galen, a Republican strategist and Bush ally, scoffs, saying: "The notion of the White House somehow being involved in a conspiracy to control the news by planting someone like Gannon is just laughable. They (critics) are trying to connect the dots, but they're coloring outside the lines."How "laughable" that White House tried to control the news. Because the Armstrong Williams bribe, the Gallagher payola, the fake news videos, all that was just for fun...not at all an attempt to control the message. Scoff away, Galen. No matter how much you try to minimize this for you "ally", the American Public won't stand to be fooled any longer.