Welcome to Karl Rove’s Funhouse Halls of Mirrors and Mazes - I
To the left is the hall of the Viguerie-Eberle direct mail operations and operators. To the right is the honorary hall of rightwing Republican “think-tanks” and operatives with nooks and crannies housing their journalism “schools” and fundraising operations. Behind you resides the Evangelical “Christians” spewing their hate and love of some guy in the sky. Straight ahead is the hall of sex -- careful, it only looks straight.
Ever since Atrios posted the tip that Jeff Gannon, WH reporter, isn’t really Jeff Gannon and SusanG picked up on this in a Diary at Daily Kos on on 1/28/05 many of us have been roaming these halls. They’re vast and produce a sense of dizziness and queasiness within in few hours. The connecting doors between the hallways only lead to more doors and more hallways as well as a few trap doors. Such a simple question, who is Jeff Gannon, Talon News Service WH reporter who posed a question to GWB that was singularly stupid since it incorporated as fact a statement from Harry Reid that was a figment of Rush’s imagination and was easily fact checked to confirm that it had no source other than Rush.
From that David Brock question at Media Matters uncovered that the articles by Jeff Gannon at Talon News Service were mostly cribbed from WH press releases. The story might have ended there since the MSM these days doesn’t do a whole lot more of what would in the past have been considered reporting than what Gannon had done. Plus Jeff Gannon had been sitting in the WH press room for two years, attended WH Christmas parties for journalists and was seen in a tuxedo going to the WH Correspondent’s Annual Dinner. Froomkin at WaPo had questioned who Gannon was a year before, but his question didn’t exactly set any WH reporter’s hair on fire. Surely if this guy Gannon were so very questionable, one of them or one of their colleagues in their newsrooms would have looked into this, but none did.
It took the disclosure that Gannon was in fact not Gannon to prompt questions that could not be easily dismissed. Liberal bloggers with no knowledge of the intricacies of credentialing reporters for the WH knew instantly that nobody could get in there with a pseudonym without the WH knowing the true identity of the applicant. So, why would the WH go along with a ruse by such a non-entity as Talon News Service? Scott McClennan would not say and danced around the questions by claiming plausible deniability.
So, who is Jeff Gannon? The first thread was Talon News Service. Five minutes at Talon’s website would convince anyone that even with the most generous definition of “news service” that Talon did not qualify as such. It was an arm of GOPUSA, a conservative political operation run out of Pearland, TX. Were they just money-making scams that the owner Bobby Eberle was running or were they part of something even more sinister?
Who is Jeff Gannon? Radically Bitter at dKos picked up the jeffgannon.com thread. And the story became a bit more interesting. Several website domains had been established over a period of years by Gannon or someone connected to him. They all linked together with a J Daniels and Bedrock Corporation. All in DEL or DC and addresses and phone numbers confirmed that they were all linked in someway. Lots of tantalizing leads suggested by both names, and they were exhaustively researched by bloggers, but none of those led anywhere. Yet, all of these registrations held important clues in both their names and the date they were registered.
As we now know Gannon is James D. Guckert (confirmed by dKos bloggers from a tip from Atrios) who in 1999 and 2000 set up male escort service websites with graphic nude photos of himself (usmcpt.com, militaryescortsM4M and extrememale.com). Back then he was just “Jeff” or “Jeff Bulldog.” John Aravosis at Americablog pulled all of this together and has been doing yeoman work on this whole story, including the appearance of “Jeff’s” profile at other escort service websites that included his fees and customer testimonials. However, three weeks ago all we had were a bunch of web domains that didn’t seem all that integrated.
I’m listing these because they seem to me still to still contain clues relevant to the entire story that have yet to be uncovered and understandable. For those interested in the technical elements of how they are linked, I direct you to the dKos Diary by SusanG
3/02 conservative-guy.com & the-conservative-guy.com
3/02 conservativelegal.com & theconservativelegal.com
5/03 conservativecampus.org & conservativecampus.com
The 2000-2002 registered domains would not seem to form a whole, but to a certain type of older gay man, “conservativeguy” would be read differently from how many of us would read it. This can be seen as Phase I-A, all in some way related to Guckert’s activities as a male escort.
The long lag time between the registration of conservativeguy in 2000 and all the variations on it in 2002 suggests to me that this handle had become valuable to him in some way. The addition of sites with the word “legal” must mean something. Something about his escort service activities was possibly becoming more organized and perhaps more lucrative. Then he jumps from plain “Jeff” to “Jeff Gannon.” Call this Phase I-B.
After the birth of Jeff Gannon in 6/02. there is another gap in new registrations. They all also surfaced after Jeff Gannon was installed at the White House as Jeff Gannon, reporter. This group (with the exception of “exposejessejackson”) all mimic the seemingly endless number of other existing rightwing political or religious organizations, and these are the first to be registered as “.org.” (Note: researchers at Propagannon.com and dKos are tracking down the details on the Free Speech Foundation which appears to have been registered with the IRS as a non-profit.) “Militaryvote” was created after the 2004 election! Call this Phase II.
(If your head is beginning to swim, hold on. This is just the beginning and I’m leaving out all the details that make this incredibly complex.)
As the liberal bloggers began a concerted effort to answer the question of “who is Jeff Gannon?” which roughly started on 1/29/05, a curious thing began to happen. Someone started scrubbing the Talon News Service website. Then the registrations on the Phase II websites (except “exposejessejackson”) were changed from J Daniels@Bedrock to IChristian@Freespeechfoundation. They were a few days too late as all the data from these had been captured by researchers, but they did unwittingly confirm that all is not well in Bedrock. (“…A dabb-a-doo time. You’ll have a gay old time.” – Flintstone’s theme song in case you missed that reference.)
Back to Gannon. After 6/02 both the conservative guy and jeff gannon bylines appeared on the internet and in comments at Free Republic. (Note – conservativeguy may have appeared earlier but I haven’t been able to nail down the dates and content to analyze this part of the history.) These were:
11/12/03 – Jeff Gannon - at the Conservativemonitor
11/20/02 -- Jeff Gannon at the Frontiers of Freedom
12/18/02 – The Conservative Guy at Intellectual Conservative
12/20/02 – Jeff Gannon –(same article as the 12/18/02 piece) at the Frontiers of Freedom
1/12/03 The Conservative Guy at Intellectual Conservative.
The only one of these sites that is the least bit interesting is The Frontiers of Freedom set up by former Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop in 1995 (ending Social Security is high on his wish list). They began publishing articles on their website mid 2002. VP of Policy is Kerri Houston, a conservative writer/pundit. Although it is unclear when she was joined Frontiers of Freedom, we know that she started a Freedom Writers forum on 5/22/02.
Then on 1/15/03 Gannon surfaced as a writer at GOPUSA, a conservative political website. On 2/25/03 Gannon can be seen in the WH pressroom on C-span recordings. By 2/28/03 he was posing a question to the Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer. Ari told E&P that at some point he became uncomfortable with Gannon until Bobby Eberle called him and "assured me that they were not part of the Republican Party." Ari seems not to know when this call was made before or after Gannon showed up representing Talon News Service that was created on 3/29/03 and began publishing articles on its website on 4/1/03. This would be like one of The Left Coaster contributors showing up for WH press briefings and being waved in. (Something only a Freeper would consider likely, and then only because they are grasping at straws trying to rationalize that there was nothing odd about these events.)
Jeff Gannon’s sole credential to being a reporter was a two-day seminar at the Leadership Institute (cost $50), “the premier training ground for tomorrow's conservative leaders”. LI For more information on LI, see sourcewatch. With the National Journalism Center (NJC) cranking our rightwing “journalists” in twelve weeks, it is interesting that they can’t feed the need fast enough. (Note: NJC head of their Board of Governors is Thomas L Phillips who is also Chairman of Eagle Publishing that owns Regnery Publishing that brought us the Swift Boat Liars.) The Leadership Institute is organized as a non-partisan and non-profit whose President Morton Blackwell “serves now on the RNC’s Standing Committee on Rules and has attended every meeting of the Republican National Conventions’ Rules Committees since 1972.” LI. (Note: all of these operations are domiciled in VA as is Frontiers of Freedom.
Shall we take a closer look at Bobby Eberle? My guess is that Texas is filled with Bobby Eberles these days. GOP wannabe movers and shakers. He claims to hold a Phd in mechanical engineering, worked for Lockheed Martin and attended the 2001 inauguration – Bobby at the 2000 GOP convention. GOPUSA was described as a website that published articles as of 3/19/01 and a minor dust-up occurred for Tony Snow when Fox News determined that this was an improper publication forum for their “journalist.” (That’s right, GOPUSA didn’t meet the criteria for Fox News!) Snow But these days nobody in the GOP circles in TX seems to know Bobby. Bobby had fellow Texan Kerri Houston escorting around DC in September 2001 -- ACU conference - which suggests that he wasn’t all that well connected at that time. (It is unclear when Houston became a Director of GOPUSA/Talon – she wasn’t listed as of 7/01 - reference - but the directorship is included in her FF bio which seems to date from 5/02 at the latest) Nothing much seemed to come of this because GOPUSA remain essentially unchanged until 1/1/03 when it started a front page news feature with GOPUSA volunteer reporters. Adding Gannon on 1/15 and setting up Talon on 3/29/03. Eberle’s articles began appearing on Intellectual Conservative in early 2003 and he began speaking out about the need to unseat Tom Daschle.
Bobby’s fortunes seemed to take a turn for the better after Gannon was installed as his guy in DC. By September 2003, GOPUSA was sponsoring a conference in DC with some high profile rightwing Republican speakers such as: Grover Norquist and Senator Cornyn, TX. The one the following year included G. Gordon Liddy, as well as Gannon and Kerri Houston. In 2004 Gannon was busy aiding the SD paid bloggers in their disinformation campaign against Daschle. He and/or GOPUSA used a FOIA request to nail Daschle on his residence in VA. The extent of these activities will become clearer as researchers dig further into this.
Part II: more Sex, Gannon and the White House
(I am grateful to Ricardo4 from dKos for researching Houston, Eberle and finding the Gannon FF pieces.)