Response to LA Times article on Propagannon
LA Times writer Johanna Neuman wrote an article, An Identity Crisis Unfolds in a Not-So-Elite Press Corps, that Yahoo is using as its top story. Since so many Yahooligans will be reading it, let's correct it.
And now, a semi-impostor has forced the White House and the mainstream reporters covering it to address a basic question:No, Guckert's presence in the Press Corps has not raised that question, since Guckert is, by his own definition, not a reporter (see posts below.) The "basic question" forced into the public discourse is why a alleged criminal, affiliated with a shady GOP activist organization, with ZERO journalism experience apparently fits some myserious, non-disclosed criteria for White House Press Corps membership.
What is a journalist?
The openly scornful and seemingly partisan description of congressional Democrats startled some veterans of the White House press room. And they wondered how Bush came to call on the relatively obscure reporter...not just this time, but on previous occasions as well."Seemingly" partisan? You know what Guckert questions are even more "seemingly partisan." How about these?
Then gay activists, indulging in what one media critic called "bloglust," posted on the Internet homoerotic photos of Gannon advertising himself as a $200-an-hour gay escort.Ms. Neuman, "posted on the Internet"? They were already posted on the Internet by Guckert himelf. Guckert posted them on the Internet, not the "gay activists." Guckert made them public. And, interestingly, it seems that James "those sites aren't mine!" Guckert is the one selling the domain names for a pretty penny.
The White House press corps has since attracted an array of unusual personalities. There was Naomi Nover of the Nover News Service. No one ever saw her work published, but Nover — whose coif of white hair somewhat resembled George Washington's wig — got past a security cordon during a Reagan trip to China after a reporter showed guards a U.S. dollar bill as evidence of how important she was.Was she linked to a shady GOP activist organization?
"If you look at the question Gannon asked, it obviously reflected his conservative views," Fitzwater said.Ah, the false equivalency of Helen Thomas. You know why Helen Thomas deserved to be in the Press Corps for some 30 years? Because she wrote for her high school paper. Because she was a "copy boy." Because she wrote news for radio. Because she dedicated her entire life to journalism. If Guckert had the same credentials, we would be defending his right to be in the Press Corps, regardless of his political affiliation. But equating Guckert's $50 "journalism training" and Xerox reporting with the lifelong commitment of Helen Thomas to a free press is frankly, a huge insult.
"But it's no different from the ones Helen Thomas [formerly of United Press International, now of Hearst] asked of Reagan, or Dan Rather [of CBS] asked in his more famous comments about Richard Nixon.
"I've always thought it was dangerous for the White House to get into the business of defining who is and is not a member of the press corps," said Clinton White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry. "That is better done by the news media."If the news media is comfortable with a partisan operative posing as a journalist being a member of the press corps, then we have a bigger problem than little Guckert on our hands. We have the slow death of the Fourth Estate.
Former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who gave Gannon a day pass even before Talon News was launched, told the trade magazine Editor & Publisher that at one point he hesitated to call on the reporter, then resumed after being assured he was not a GOP plant.And who assured him he wasn't a GOP plant? Why, GOP activist Bobby Eberle, who owns Talon News and GOPUSA.com, and who has extremely close ties with the Republican Party. Quite a reassurance.
Still, the impression lingers for some that the Bush White House with its reputation for stage managing the news orchestrated softball questions. Others say the White House is simply a magnet for those eager to usurp its stage.Let's balance the article a bit and expand on "stage-managing" the news. Let's talk about Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, or loyalty oaths for audiences, or how the President cancelled a German town hall meeting because he was scared of getting unscripted questions. Let's talk about how Guckert's "softballs" are merely a piece of a much larger scheme of controlling and manipulating the message and hiding the truth from the American people.
"The television lens has brought into the briefing room people who have a political viewpoint and find the briefing a way to express it."God bless that television lens. If not for it, the American Public would never know how our President lives in a "one question only, no follow up" bubble.