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siberian khatru
02-25-2005, 09:08 AM
I post this without comment. Just thought it was an interesting read.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0Hello - commatard on the loose.SB110929763947364024-5Fnsnyb8rdTiVhIlOprCuMfxxhQ_20050327,00.html?mod=blogs
White House Press Room as Political Stage

By CHRISTOPHER COOPER and JOHN D. MCKINNON
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
February 25, 2005; Page B1

WASHINGTON -- The question at the regular White House press briefing on Feb. 1 came straight out of left field: "Does the president believe in Commandment No. 6 -- 'Thou shalt not kill' -- as it applies to the U.S. invasion of Iraq?"

White House spokesman Scott McClellan didn't miss a beat. "Go ahead, next question," he said to the roomful of reporters.

Mr. McClellan's rebuff notwithstanding, the questioner, former Ralph Nader campaign volunteer Russell Mokhiber, got his first entry of the month for a Web diary he writes called "Scottie & Me (formerly Ari & I)." The diary, made up entirely of exchanges between Mr. Mokhiber and the president's chief spokesman, is a standing feature for the Common Dreams News Center, an organization of self-described progressives.

Both the question and the questioner exemplify a steady evolution that has occurred in the White House briefing room in recent years. Once the clubby preserve of big-name newspapers and networks, it has lately become a political stage where a growing assortment of reporters, activists and bloggers function not only as journalists but as participants in a unique form of reality TV.

The power of the presidency has always attracted offbeat characters to the White House briefing room. But the trend accelerated in the late 1990s, when cable outlets like C-SPAN began broadcasting the White House briefing in its entirety. That has drawn more fringe journalists seeking a forum to voice their points of view. The trend has been further fueled in recent years by the rise of alternative media, Internet news sites and Web logs that have given just about everyone who wants it a platform for punditry.

The result is that "the entire nature of the briefing has changed," says former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart. "It's become a show."

The show's plot took a dramatic twist after a man known as Jeff Gannon piped up with a question that harshly criticized Democrats during a nationally televised press conference by President Bush in January. Liberal bloggers went to work researching the man, a reporter for an obscure conservative news site, and quickly discovered that he was writing under a pseudonym and also had registered domain names for several Web sites with sexually suggestive names. The man, whose legal name is James D. Guckert, quickly resigned from his reporting position at Talon News, a site staffed mostly with volunteers and bankrolled by a Texas Republican named Bobby Eberle.

While Mr. Gannon has attracted a lot of attention, other lesser-known reporters have traveled a similar path to get inside the White House bubble. He never received a White House press pass because he lacks a congressional pass, which is one of the requirements for permanent clearance into the White House. Instead, like other reporters without permanent credentials, he gained access to the White House briefing room by getting a daily press-office clearance through security.

Before such clearance is granted, security officials do a fast check based on the petitioner's date of birth and Social Security number. White House officials and Mr. Gannon himself say he used his real name rather than his pseudonym to get his clearance.

Mr. Gannon believes he was singled out by liberal bloggers for investigation because he is a conservative. "Am I a partisan? Absolutely," he says. "I never said I was anything else."

Another reporter who frequents the briefing room, Bill Jones, has written for a news organization called Executive Intelligence Review that lists perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche as its founder and contributing editor on its Web site. Mr. Jones often asks tough questions about the administration's foreign policy and intelligence record, according to transcripts and other reporters. Mr. Jones didn't return calls or e-mails seeking comment.

Over the years, the White House press corps has included an array of characters -- Naomi Nover, for one, who inherited her husband's press pass after he died.

Barnet Nover had founded Nover News Service in 1971, after retiring from the Denver Post's Washington bureau, in an effort to keep his column on foreign policy going. After he died two years later, Ms. Nover attempted to keep the news service alive but did less and less reporting over time. Nonetheless, she went on virtually every overseas White House press trip until her death, in 1995. "Pretend journalist loved D.C.," said the headline on her obituary in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

The Clinton White House was kinder, issuing a statement praising Ms. Nover for her "years of dedication to her craft."

In the Clinton era, a voluble Baltimore radio talk-show host, Les Kinsolving, asked questions that annoyed the White House press office to the point that it briefly considered barring him, but decided against it out of concern for a backlash among right-wing media.

On his Web site, Mr. Kinsolving proudly displays quotations about him from eight White House press secretaries, most of them concerning how outrageous his questions can be.

But the atmosphere for fringe journalists of all stripes is getting decidedly less friendly, thanks in part to the rise of blogs. Last week, for example, Mr. Mokhiber, the Web diarist, took a shot from Accuracy in Media, a group that frequently attacks what it sees as the liberal bias of the press. AIM compared Mr. Mokhiber to Mr. Gannon.

"Left-Wing Activist Poses as Reporter at White House Press Briefings," said the site, which pointed out that Mr. Mokhiber had no journalism training and that he limited his questioning to offbeat subjects such as industrial hemp, the possibility of war-crimes charges against Mr. Bush and Israel's 1967 attack on the USS Liberty.

Mr. Mokhiber rejects the comparison with Mr. Gannon. But like him, Mr. Mokhiber doesn't deny bias, adding that that shouldn't be a disqualifier. "Who's to decide if you're getting a check from General Electric Corp., and working for NBC, that you don't have a political bias?" Mr. Mokhiber says.

For about the last four years, Mr. Mokhiber, a volunteer for Mr. Nader's 2004 presidential campaign and former board member of his charity, has been showing up at West Wing press briefings. Generally, he toils in relative obscurity, putting out his Web diary and publishing "Corporate Crime Reporter," a weekly newsletter that he says goes out to about 200 clients and provides him with a modest living.

The question about the Sixth Commandment is fairly representative of Mr. Mokhiber's Web feature -- in the past year, he has asked Mr. McClellan whether President Bush believes in deliberately misleading reporters during wartime, whether the president knows off the top of his head how many soldiers have died in Iraq, and whether the White House counsel has prepared for the possibility that President Bush will be hauled up on war crimes.

In the wake of the Gannon incident, Mr. McClellan has said that he is considering tightening the standards for admission to briefings. Mr. Lockhart, the former spokesman for Mr. Clinton as well as John Kerry, thinks the standards have grown too loose, allowing political operatives in.

But drawing that line won't be easy. And some think there's a risk that something valuable will be lost in the process. "The fact is that the history and tradition of the White House have been much more open and accepting" of nonmainstream journalists than other Washington institutions, such as the Congress, says Ari Fleischer, Mr. McClellan's predecessor. "I think it would be a real shame if that tradition ended. It might be good for the press secretary but not for diversity of opinion."

Michael Michigan
02-25-2005, 09:22 AM
And this...

http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/showcase/la-na-whpress25feb25.story


WASHINGTON — Its members work inside one of the most secure facilities in the nation, the White House, and they get to question America's most senior leaders, including the president.

Yet the White House press corps is not the thoroughly screened and scrubbed journalistic elite Americans might presume. Along with stars of the country's major media organizations, it has long included eccentrics, fringe players and characters of uncertain lineage.

And now, a semi-impostor has forced the White House and the mainstream reporters covering it to address a basic question:

What is a journalist?

It's a question the press corps and White House officials have tended to duck in the past — each for their own reasons. For reporters, policing the ranks smacks of undermining the 1st Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press. For White House officials, it has always seemed like an invitation to endless argument about who should be in and who should not — especially when newsletters, bloggers, cable news channels, satellite radio stations and Internet sites all claim a share of the turf that once belonged to a relative handful of news organizations.

Last month, however, the subject broke into the open after a reporter for the website Talon News asked President Bush how he could work on Social Security and other domestic initiatives with Democrats "who seem to have distanced themselves from reality."

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.

That was only the beginning.

Left-wing bloggers soon revealed that the reporter, whom colleagues knew as Jeff Gannon, was really named James Dale Guckert. They also disclosed that Talon News was owned by an avowedly partisan website called GOPUSA. The website in turn was the creation of a conservative Texas political activist named Bobby Eberle.

That stirred a furor over how a seeming Republican agent got clearance to attend White House briefings as a journalist. Soon Gannon resigned.

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.

"I've made mistakes in my past," Gannon told the Washington Post's media critic, Howard Kurtz. "Does my past mean I can't have a future? Does it disqualify me from being a journalist?"

Apparently not.

Gannon did not have a permanent White House press pass that requires an FBI background check. Those who carry it have clear access to the White House and frequently travel with the president. And the Standing Committee of Correspondents on Capitol Hill, which accredits more than 2,000 journalists who write for daily news organizations, refused to give him a congressional press pass.

But Gannon was admitted to the White House on a regular basis over the last two years. Applying as Guckert, he was given a series of one-day passes.

Marlin Fitzwater, former press secretary to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said in an interview that he created day passes in response to a federal court decision in the late 1970s requiring the White House to admit all journalists unless the Secret Service deemed them threats to the president or his immediate family.

The lawsuit involved Robert Sherrill of the Nation, who was denied a press pass on the Secret Service's recommendation because, it turned out, he had punched out the press secretary to the governor of Florida.

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.

Lester Kinsolving, conservative radio commentator, wore a clerical collar to White House briefings in the Reagan years. His loud voice and off-beat, argumentative questions often provoked laughter. President Clinton, to lighten up the proceedings, often called on Sarah McLendon, who worked for a string of small newspapers in Texas and called herself a citizen journalist unafraid to blast government bureaucrats.

"If you look at the question Gannon asked, it obviously reflected his conservative views," Fitzwater said.

"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.

"This guy [Gannon] got caught and he's a little weirder than most — but he's no weirder than Evelyn Y. Davis," said Fitzwater, referring to the shareholder advocate who covers the White House for her corporate newsletter, "Highlights and Lowlights."

"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."

Reporters, too, seem reluctant to join the fray. The White House Correspondents Assn. met last week with White House spokesman Scott McClellan, but no action has been taken.

"We wanted to err on the side of inclusion," said Steve Scully of C-SPAN, who serves on the executive board. "Once you start dictating who is a journalist, you go down a slippery slope."

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.

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.

"I look at the Gannon story — I used to refer to him as Jeff GOP — as demonstrating the impact of televising the press briefing," said Martha Kumar, a political scientist at Towson University.

"The television lens has brought into the briefing room people who have a political viewpoint and find the briefing a way to express it."

Duck Dog
02-25-2005, 09:32 AM
LOL. Pretty much proves that the Gannon story is nothing more than liberals outing a gay Republican. Very ironic, indeed.

memyselfI
02-25-2005, 10:27 AM
Wow, WSJ. Rather mainstream. Wasn't that one that Russ was asking to see the story on?

Funny, I can't imagine papers like the WSJ or LA Times taking up valuable space in their publications for a 'non-story'. Especially the adminstration friendly WSJ.

And why would the WH be reconsidering their policy for a 'non-story'????

I post this without comment. Just thought it was an interesting read.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0Hello - commatard on the loose.SB110929763947364024-5Fnsnyb8rdTiVhIlOprCuMfxxhQ_20050327,00.html?mod=blogs
White House Press Room as Political Stage

By CHRISTOPHER COOPER and JOHN D. MCKINNON
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
February 25, 2005; Page B1



In the wake of the Gannon incident, Mr. McClellan has said that he is considering tightening the standards for admission to briefings. Mr. Lockhart, the former spokesman for Mr. Clinton as well as John Kerry, thinks the standards have grown too loose, allowing political operatives in.

patteeu
02-25-2005, 01:19 PM
Wow, WSJ. Rather mainstream. Wasn't that one that Russ was asking to see the story on?

Funny, I can't imagine papers like the WSJ or LA Times taking up valuable space in their publications for a 'non-story'. Especially the adminstration friendly WSJ.

And why would the WH be reconsidering their policy for a 'non-story'????

[don's Taco/Meme indignant tone]It's a fake story about nothing. Maybe we should pull the WH credentials for anyone who reports on it as anything other than a curiosity of partisan politics.

What do you think? You are pretty particular about the criteria for being called a real news organization.[/sarcasm]

And BTW, what's your take on SK's OP article?

Taco John
02-25-2005, 03:03 PM
Bah.

A fake organization for a political front group. Say what you will, but that's all it amounts to. The government in the press room. The Framers are getting some serious RPMs going in their coffins right now...

You righties will say anything.

jettio
02-26-2005, 04:59 PM
I say Chiefs Planet ought to get press credentials at the old Casa Blanca.

MM might seen to be an obvious choice as lead reporter with his extensive experience in both fish wrapper and cage liner production.

Should vet him off course, his love of language and grammar may have led him to register domain names like dangling-modifier.com, split-infinitive.com and fancyfister.com.

Can't have any scandal.