Saturday :: Feb 26, 2005

They's Whores, Then They's Courtesans

by pessimist

There has been a lot of discussion - mostly on the real media, the Internet - about the White House's cheap slut James Guckert pretending to be a media geisha. But pretending that wiping the lipstick from that particular pig addresses the issue of the Fourth Estate prostituting itself for Republican political projects completely misses the mass of the message. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote:

"The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

Instead, we got this:


Yesterday, we were treated with the spectacle of George W. Bush extolling the virtues of a "free press," that actually held him "accountable." Unlike in some unfree places (like Russia). Yuck. Yuck.

Excuse me, but "the folks here are constantly trying to hold me to account for decisions I make and how I make decisions?!?" Is that on Bizarro world?

At least in Russia, the compliant, pro-Putin media has the excuse of being forcefully coerced into it in many cases. Our pissant, yellow-stained media does it because they are a bunch of spineless cowards and sycophants.

The US press corps (particularly the networks and cable news stations) have pretty much either laid down and died when it comes to holding your ass accountable for anything, or are actually in the tank for you and your administration.

Or down on their knees doing the Guckert!

Here's the question asked of Bu$h that prompted the commentary above:

"Q: To follow up on the issue of democratic institutions, President Bush recently stated that the press in Russia is not free. What is this lack of freedom all about? Your aides probably mentioned to you that our media, both electronic and our printed media [carry] full coverage of the manifestations and protests in our country. Our regional and national media often criticize the government institution.

What about you? Why don't you talk a lot about violations of the rights of journalists in the United States, about the fact that some journalists have been fired? Or do you prefer to discuss this in private with your American colleague?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't know what journalists you're referring to. Any of you all still have your jobs?

No, I -- look, I think it's important any viable democracy has got a free and active press. Obviously, if you're a member of the Russian press, you feel like the press is free. And that's -- feel that way? Well, that's good. (Laughter.) But I -- I talked to Vladimir about that. And he -- he wanted to know about our press. I said, nice bunch of folks. And he wanted to know about, as you mentioned, the subject of somebody getting fired. People do get fired in American press. They don't get fired by government, however. They get fired by their editors or they get fired by their producers, or they get fired by the owners of a particular outlet or network.

At the request of the White House? We'll see a journalist question this assertion about reporters being fired for not telling the truth later in this post.

But a free press is important. And it is -- it is an important part of any democracy. And if you're a member of the press corps and you feel comfortable with the press in Russia, I think that is a pretty interesting observation for those of us who don't live in Russia to listen to.

King George demonstrates that he's missed hearing that message:

But no question, whether it be in America or anywhere else, the sign of a healthy and vibrant society is one in where there's an active press corps.

Obviously, there has got to be constraints.

Well, which is it, Your High-and-Mighty-ness? [King George listens to the voice over the earpiece reading from a high school civics textbook before he responds]

There's got to be truth. People have got to tell the truth, and if somebody violates the truth, then those who own a particular newspaper or those who are in charge of particular electronic station need to hold people to account. The press -- the capacity of the press to hold people to account also depends on their willingness to self-examine at times when they're wrong. And that happens on occasion in America. And that's -- that's an important part of maintaining a proper relationship between government and press.

I can assure you that the folks here are constantly trying to hold me to account for decisions I make and how I make decisions. I'm comfortable with that. It's part of the checks and balances of a democracy. And so I'm glad to hear you're editorial comment, so to speak, on your comfort with the situation of the press corps in the Federation of Russia.

Which has what to do with the question posed by the Russian reporter - someone who obviously has more of an awareness of the state of the media in America?

Nothing. Father Andrew Greeley has some words about the sloth of the American Fourth Estate in their duty to expose the wrongdoing of Bu$hCo:

How long can Bush get away with lies?
February 25, 2005

As the criminal, sinful war in Iraq enters its third year, the president goes to Europe to heal the wounds between the United States and its former allies, on his own terms of course. The White House propaganda mill will hail it as another victory for the president and ignore the fact that most Europeans still consider the war dangerous folly and the president a dangerous fool.

One hears new rationalizations for the war on this side of the Atlantic. After the hearings on Secretary of State Rice, a Republican senator, with all the self-righteous anger that characterizes many such, proclaimed, "The Democrats just have to understand that the president really believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

This justification is not unlike the one heard frequently at the White House, "The president believed the intelligence agencies of the world."

Would it not be much better to have a president who deliberately lied to the people because he thought a war was essential than to have one who was so dumb as to be taken in by intelligence agencies, especially those who told him what he wanted to hear?

It is also asserted that the election settled the matters of the war and the torture of prisoners. These are dead issues that no longer need be addressed. Yet the president received only 51 percent of the vote and carried only one more state than the last time (picking up New Mexico and Iowa and losing New Hampshire).

This is a validation of the war and of prisoner abuse? This is a mandate to do whatever he wants to do and whatever the leadership of the evangelical denominations want? A percentage point and a single state are a mandate for more war? Never before in American political history!

Finally, we are told that the Iraqi election confirms the Bush administration policy in Iraq. The president's supporters must be in deep trouble to reach so far for that one. All the election proves is that the Iraqis want to run their own country. It also raises the possibility that Shia clerics will deliver Iraq into the hands of the Iranians.

Some kind of victory! How do these kinds of arguments play in the precincts?

The survey data suggest that war has become more unpopular. The majority of the American people now think it was a mistake, in a shift away from the 51 percent that endorsed it on Election Day. Admittedly this is only a small change in the population, from a majority to a minority. Nor do the changers earn grace for their new opinions. They still endorsed the war on Election Day and are still responsible for it.

How long can the administration get along with its policies of spinning big lies into truth -- as it has more recently done on Social Security?

Note the three most important Cabinet positions. Rice said that it was better to find the weapons of mass destruction than to see a mushroom cloud. "Judge" Gonzales said the Geneva Convention was "quaint" and in effect legitimated the de facto policy of torture. Rumsfeld repealed the "Powell Doctrine" -- only go to war when you have the massive force necessary to win decisively and quickly. Brilliant businessman that he is (like Robert McNamara of the Vietnam era), he thought he could win with 130,000 (unlike at least 200,000 as the army chief of staff insisted) and hence made the current "insurgency" inevitable.

The presence of these three towering giants in the administration certainly confirms that the president is confident that he is "right" on Iraq and that he has a mandate from the American people and from God which confirms that he is "right."

Nothing, in other words, has changed in the last two years. The war is still the "right thing to do," it is still part of the "war against terrorism," it is still essential to keep Arabs from blowing up our skyscrapers.

You can still get away with the "big lie" as long as Karl Rove and his team of spinners keep providing persuasive rationalizations. The American public is still supine, uneasy about the war, but not willing yet to turn decisively against it. Will that still be the case next year when we "celebrate" the third anniversary of the war? Is the patience of the American people that long suffering? Is there no outrage left in the country?

Father Greeley is more circumspect than I would be given that national forum he enjoys. Perhaps this next post is a better example of the observation that the media is missing by inaction:

[A] better question: What is journalism?
by Joe in DC - 2/25/2005 11:14:00 AM

The LA Times story about Gannon says a lot about the state of the mainstream media (MSM). Somehow, Ms. Neuman has managed to make the Gannon story about them...and it is, but not the way she thinks. She said, the MSM is being forced to ask: What is a journalist?

Here's a better question for the MSM: what is journalism? Reporters are trying so hard to be fair - and not piss off the right wing - that they are becoming part of the Right Wing Noise Machine. It's actually frightening.

Neuman's piece is a classic example of present day journalism. It's an example of how far the MSM has gone to avoid covering the real issues in Gannongate. When describing the research done on Gannon by bloggers, she uses terms "left wing bloggers" "gay activists" and "bloglust". Her words imply a lack of credibility. When she writes of Jeff, there are no similar "descriptors" applied to him, GOPUSA or Talon News. Maybe Ms. Neuman talked to some of bloggers from the "left wing." She didn't talk to John Aravosis, who is apparently consigned to the role of "gay activist" as if Americablog is nothing more.

This is the first major story the LA Times wrote about Gannon and they couldn't interview any of the players who broke the story?

I've said it before, this story played out right under the noses of the media. Jeff/Jim was among them. He essentially mocked them....and continues to do so.

Maybe that's why they can't cover the story. It involves self-examination and self-criticism. And, it might involve pissing off the White House. Then, they might not get their Presidential nicknames. That would really suck.

The story seems to be about more whores than we realized.

Well spoken, Joe! A professional takes up the cudgels:

The Hypocrisy Taboo
[Links from original article - ed]

If one accepts George W. Bush's lecture to the Russians that democracy requires a free press unafraid to criticize national leaders, then what kind of political system exists in the United States where the news media seems so scared of Bush that it shies away from mentioning the president's autocratic tendencies?

For the American press, there appears to be no bigger taboo than against questioning Bush's sincerity when he presents himself as the grand promoter of democracy around the world. Lost to history, apparently, is the moment in December 2000 when Bush joked that "if this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - so long as I'm the dictator."

More substantively, that same month, Bush got five political allies on the U.S. Supreme Court to shut down vote counting in the key state of Florida and hand him the White House. Bush seized that victory despite the fact that Al Gore got more votes nationally and apparently would have carried Florida - and thus the Electoral College - if all legal votes in the state were counted.

[For details on the Election 2000 results, see's "So Bush Did Steal the White House."]

A short list of some other issues that a comliant media chooses to ignore:

Election 2004

In Election 2004, Bush's supporters took a number of actions designed to suppress the votes of African-Americans and other groups likely to favor Democratic challenger John Kerry. For instance, Democratic precincts in the pivotal state of Ohio were shorted on voting machines, creating long lines and preventing many voters from casting ballots. Even now, Ohio Republican officials continue to battle appeals by citizen groups to investigate Nov. 2's election irregularities. A thorough investigation also could look at why so many ballots in Democratic precincts either didn't record votes for president or awarded them to obscure third-party candidates.

[For a surprisingly skeptical view of Bush's Ohio victory, see Christopher Hitchens's article, "Ohio's Odd Numbers", Vanity Fair, March 2005.]

Before the election, Bush could have ordered Republicans in Ohio and elsewhere to desist from any voter suppression, but he didn't. Now, he could demand full cooperation with citizens trying to investigate what happened on Nov. 2. But George W. Bush has never stood up for democratic principles when his personal power - or his legitimacy - could be put in doubt. The same could be said of his father. The Bushes seem to love democracy only when they are assured of winning.

[See Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Even at times between presidential elections, George W. Bush has shown no interest in playing fair with Democrats. Most notably, he doesn't restrain his aggressive aides and ambitious supporters - such as Karl Rove and Grover Norquist - when they try to tilt the playing field permanently to the advantage of conservatives and Republicans.

[For details, see's "Bush & the Rise of Managed Democracy."]

Bush was silent, too, when House Majority Leader Tom DeLay took extraordinary actions in Texas to gerrymander congressional districts with the goal of assuring continued Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

War Debate

This hostility toward meaningful democracy carries over to policy debates. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, instead of encouraging a full and vigorous debate, Bush mocked anti-war demonstrators as a "focus group" and signaled his backers that it was okay to intimidate Americans who questioned his case for war. So conservative pundits saw no problem in painting former weapons inspector Scott Ritter as a traitor when he objected to Bush's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Bush backers organized a boycott of the Dixie Chicks because one of the group's singers criticized the president. Some Bush backers symbolically drove trucks over the group's CDs.

When actor Sean Penn lost work because of his Iraq War opposition, pro-Bush MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough chortled, "Sean Penn is fired from an acting job and finds out that actions bring about consequences. Whoa, dude!" As justification for depriving Penn of work, Scarborough cited a comment that Penn made while on a pre-war trip to Iraq. Penn said, "I cannot conceive of any reason why the American people and the world would not have shared with them the evidence that they [Bush administration officials] claim to have of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." [MSNBC transcript, May 18, 2003]

With Bush's quiet backing, the president's supporters also denigrated skeptical U.S. allies, such as France by pouring French wine into gutters, and U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix for failing to find WMD in Iraq in the weeks before the U.S. invasion. CNBC's right-wing comic Dennis Miller likened Blix's U.N. inspectors to the cartoon character Scooby Doo, racing fruitlessly around Iraq in vans.

At no time publicly did Bush urge his followers to show reasonable respect for Iraq War critics. It was all-hardball-all-the-time, a message not lost on news executives as they fell in line behind the administration's WMD rationale for war.

MSNBC made an example of war critic Phil Donahue by booting him off the network as it competed with Fox News to see which cable news channel could wave the flag more enthusiastically. The Washington Post editorial page dropped all sense of professionalism when it referred to Iraq's supposed possession of WMD stockpiles as fact, not allegation.

As it turned out, of course, the Iraq War critics were right. Bush's claims about Iraq's WMD turned out to be bogus, as even Bush's arms inspectors David Kay and Charles Duelfer concluded in reports written after the invasion.

Notably, however, none of the pundits and journalists who got the Iraq War rationale wrong paid with their jobs. Indeed, some top journalists who fell for Bush's false claims, such as Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, not only continue to thrive but still lambaste those who don't show sufficient enthusiasm for Bush's Iraq policies.

[See's "Washington's Ricky Proehl Syndrome."]

Whores D'oeuvres

Virtually the entire Washington press corps seems to recognize that it's not allowed to suggest that Bush is a hypocrite when he wraps himself in the cloak of democracy. That was true again during Bush's Second Inaugural Address, which used the words "freedom" and "liberty" over and over again. The sincerity behind the speech drew little or no skepticism from the mainstream press despite Bush's post-Sept. 11, 2001, assertion of nearly unlimited executive power.

In the so-called "war on terror," Bush has asserted the right to detain U.S. citizens without trial once he labels them "enemy combatants." Administration lawyers also have argued that Bush can waive legal restrictions on torture. Meanwhile, Muslims in the United States have complained about discriminatory prosecutions based on flimsy evidence and extraordinary secrecy.

Still, the Washington press corps never challenges Bush when he lectures other countries about democracy as he did in Russia on Thursday, Feb. 24. The only doubt - expressed gently by the White House press corps - was that perhaps Bush didn't confront his friend Vladimir Putin very strenuously over Russia's democratic shortcomings.

At a joint Bush-Putin press conference, Bush was taken at face value when he described the unalterable principles of democracy as the "rule of law and protection of minorities, a free press and a viable political opposition" - even though his record arguably shows that he doesn't accept any of the four.

Bush also portrayed himself as a good example of a political leader who can't get away with hiding his mistakes. "I live in a transparent country," Bush said. "I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open and people are able to call people [like] me to account, which many out here do on a regular basis. ... I'm perfectly comfortable in telling you, our country is one that safeguards human rights and human dignity."

Got Jobs?

One Russian questioner challenged Bush on the issue of press freedom, apparently referring to pressure that Bush's conservative supporters have brought to bear on U.S. news organizations to oust journalists who have criticized Bush. "Why don't you talk a lot about violation of rights of journalists in the United States, about the fact that some journalists have been fired?" the questioner asked.

Bush responded with a joke, which played to the U.S. journalists in the room. "Do any of you all still have your jobs?" Bush joshed, adding: "People do get fired in American press. They don't get fired by government, however. They get fired by their editors or they get fired by their producers or they get fired by the owners of a particular outlet or network. ...

"Obviously there's got to be constraints. I mean, there's got to be truth. People've got to tell the truth. And if somebody violates the truth - and those who own a particular newspaper or those who are in charge of a particular electronic station need to hold people to account."

What neither Bush nor Putin addressed, however, is the common reality of how their two systems work, using pressure from their political allies to influence the decision about whether a journalist is fired for making a mistake or gets a free pass.

So, on one hand, an accomplished journalist like former CBS producer Mary Mapes is shown the door for not adequately checking out a purported memo about Bush shirking his National Guard duty. On the other hand, a Bush ally like the Washington Post's Hiatt keeps his prestigious job despite buying into Bush's false Iraq WMD claims.

The key difference was that powerful voices in the conservative media demanded the head of Mapes, who months earlier had broken the Abu Ghraib sexual abuse scandal. There was no comparable pressure for punishing journalists, such as Hiatt, who had violated journalistic rules by treating a disputed claim - Iraq's WMD - as a settled fact. The double standard was even more glaring since the facts contained in the questionable Bush-Guard memo were true, while the assertions about Iraq's WMD were not only false but have contributed to the deaths of nearly 1,500 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

[For more on these media double standards, see's "The Bush Rule of Journalism."]

Still, Bush was clearly right at Thursday's press conference when he declared that a free press "is an important part of any democracy" and that "the sign of a healthy and vibrant society is one where there's an active press corps." But the opposite would seem to hold equally true: that the timidity of the U.S. press corps in holding Bush accountable is a sign that American democratic institutions are neither vibrant nor healthy.

If the American media were vibrant and healthy, could this situation be happening?


Where's the outrage over the hypocrisy? Is anyone asking questions?


Christian right mum on Gannon Affair
Why have the 'traditional family values' folks erected a wall of silence around the Gannon scandal?


So where's the outrage from the Christian right over the Jeff Gannon Affair?

Despite a chunk of time having passed since the Gannon Affair was first uncovered, Christian right organizations are still cloaked in silence. As of February 24, there wasn't any news about the Gannon Affair available on the Web sites of Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family association, or the Traditional Values Coalition. As best as I could determine, no special alerts about the Gannon Affair have been issued; and no campaigns have been launched to get to the bottom of the matter.

Curious about this wall of silence, I phoned several Christian right groups on Tuesday, February 22, hoping to find someone who could comment on the Gannon Affair. This is what I found:

# Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family: I filled out an interview form and waited to hear back. Several hours later, a FotF administrative assistant called me to say that no one there could answer my questions about Gannon. She said a lot of folks were out sick and no one was available. "Would someone be available tomorrow or Thursday," I asked. She pointed out that no one would be available the following day or the day after to talk about this issue. "Next week?" "No."

# The Family Research Council: I spoke with Amber Hildebrand, FRC's Media Director. She said "We haven't made any public comments about this. There have been other pressing issues that have taken precedent, although this came as a shock to FRC." Hildebrand said she would see if FRC's Vice President of Government Affairs Connie Mackey, would talk with me. At press time (Thursday evening) Mackey has not called.

# The Traditional Values Coalition: I filled out an interview form and waited for a call back. As of 2.22, TVC Action Alerts are focused on the persecution and subsequent dismissal of charges against the "Philadelphia 5," a group of fundamentalists that disrupted a pro-gay activity in Philadelphia in order to preach "the Gospel to homosexuals," and on Columbia House for developing "a new subsidiary called Hush to market pornographic materials in association with Playboy and other pornography companies." At press time no one had returned my call. After making a second call, a TVC spokesperson told me that "no one is available to speak on that topic right now."

# The Free Congress Foundation: Over at Paul Weyrich's Washington, DC-based organization, Jill Farrell, the Director of Communications told me that she hadn't "heard anyone say anything at all" about the Gannon Affair.

The editors at Town Hall, the Heritage Foundation's one stop shopping center for conservative ideas, and the Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family association, currently involved in trashing HBO's Bill Maher over recent remarks he made about religion, didn't return my calls. Charisma News Service and the Christian Response Network didn't respond to my email questions about their lack of coverage of the Gannon Affair.

That was then...

While waiting for callbacks, my mind's eye drifted back to the Clinton White House.

Tim Bannon, a liberal activist, had made his way into a presidential press conference; Bannon had been attending press briefings for nearly two years, under the name Slim Cannon. No one seemed knew much about, the Internet news service he worked with, but many suspected it was a front group for the Democrats.

Clinton had been taking a well-publicized beating over the Monica Lewinsky Affair. At the president's first press conference in quite some time, he called on Cannon, who asked the following question: "Mr. President, given revelations about House Speaker Newt Gingrich's serial affairs and the abandonment of his wife when she had cancer, and given that Congressman Bob Livingston has a similar record of perfidious peccadilloes, and given stories about the sexual shenanigans of a host of televangelists including Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, could you please comment on whether the right wing media, isn't selectively focusing on the Lewinsky Affair, and doesn't want to deal with sexual scandals in its own backyard?"

Less than twenty-four hours later, a host of right wing Web sites -- suspicious that Cannon may have been planted by the White House -- discovered that Slim Cannon's cannon was prominently featured on a number of gay porn sites, and that in his off hours he may have been a gay "escort." Intrepid researchers find out that Cannon had been privy to secret documents before any other duly accredited White House reporters.

"Clinton's gay consort" became the right's theme for the next several months.

Reality-based fans will recognize that the above scenario never happened.

If a Tim Bannon, as Slim Cannon, had insinuated himself into the White House on President Clinton's watch, and lobbed softball question after softball question, all hell would have broken loose. Right wing media, and the pulpits and newsletters of fundamentalist Christians, would have been ranting and raving: "Where's the outrage?" Bob Dole's mantra from his failed 1996 presidential campaign might actually have finally resonated. The mainstream media would have no doubt jumped on board.

This is now...

What has actually happened bears some resemblance to our fictitious scenario.
The major difference is that the scandal involving Jeff Gannon, whose real name is James D. Guckert, is happening on President George W. Bush's watch. The vituperative voices of the right are quiet and their voracious appetites for sex, slime and salacious details about Democratic dalliances have disappeared since it's a GOP scandal.
On the heels of the payola scandal involving Bush Administration payoffs to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and McManus -- a loose coalition of the shilling -- along comes the Gannon/Guckert affair.

James D. Guckert, as Gannon, represented a conservative news site called Talon News. Somehow, within a short time of his entering "journalism," Gannon was able to get credentialed and attend numerous White House briefings and lob softballs at White House officials. According to, "Gannon was actually in the White House as early as February 28, 2003 -- a month before Talon News even existed. Gannon also got called on by President Bush at one of his rare news conferences. Gannon ended his question with "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?" referring to Senator Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Details of the Gannon/Guckert affair are still being uncovered. Thanks to the blogosphere and largely through the efforts of Media Matters for America and John Aravosis' Americablog we are learning more than we ever wanted to know about someone we rather know little about. These blogs, and a handful of other enterprising bloggers, blew the lid off Gannon's shameful charade. Beneath the lid was James D. Guckert in pre-fig leaf Garden of Eden splendor: As a contributor to such sites as,,, and, Gannon's cannon is on full display.

"'Jeff' has now quit Talon News," writes Frank Rich in the February 20 edition of the New York Times, "not because he and it have been exposed as fakes but because of other embarrassing blogosphere revelations linking him to sites like and to an apparently promising career as an X-rated $200-per-hour "escort." (For more on all of this including links to some of Gannon/Guckert's Web sites, see Americablog.)

There are innumerable aspects of the Gannon/Guckert Affair that should keep curious mainstream reporters busy for quite some time:

* How did Gannon/Guckert get into all those White House press briefings and the President's press conference?
* Was he on the payroll of Team Bush?
* Did he play a role revealing Valerie Plame's CIA employment? -- the investigation is ongoing
* How did he get by with being a phony right wing reporter by day and a gay prostitute by night?

A few weeks back, editorialized: "The Gannon story touches upon everything from manufactured news to manufactured 'reporters' to the Valerie Plame affair to websites that have a connection to the White House, but appear independent, to a Bush Cartel hypocrisy about gays, to payola, to scripted Bush news conferences, to who knows what. This is a BIG media story that should be on the cover of the New York Times and Post."

Unable to speak with representatives from Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition, I turned to Joe Conn of American United for Separation of Church and State and John Aravosis, the creator of Americablog.

In a telephone interview, Conn said he wasn't surprised that there hasn't been any response from Christian right organizations because "The religious right is pretty much a team player when it comes to the Bush Administration. Unless it's an issue like same-sex marriage -- a core issue of their agenda -- they will give the president a pass."

"Clearly this is an example of the religious right's hypocrisy," Conn points out. "If it was Bill Clinton they would be in total uproar."

Via e-mail, I asked Aravosis why he thought the Christian right was being silent about the Gannon Affair.

"Because they're hypocrites," he wrote in an e-mail. "They know this scandal is hurting Bush and they put politics ahead of their God. That's how petty and un-Christian they are."

"Am I correct in thinking that they certainly would have responded to a similar situation if Bill Clinton was still president?," I asked. Aravosis responded with tongue firmly implanted in cheek: "Do you think the religious right would care if Bill Clinton welcomed a gay hooker to the White House, and then slipped him classified intelligence information? Let me think about that one."

What Would Jesus Do? The Rude Pundit has some thoughts! [Coarse Language Alert!]

Christ Weary Over Gannon/Guckert

What is this world coming to when you can't even rely on the most hate-filled, self-righteous, arrogant [Cheney]s this side of John Negroponte to come through for you? The Gannon/Guckert story is a low hanging curve ball right to the inside for the Christian right, yet they refuse to swing.

Gay prostitute in the middle of the Christian President's White House? C'mon, this is like a black man in the South in the 1920s [Cheney]ing a white woman in the middle of a Klan meeting because the flames of the burning cross are so romantic. It's like a mohel walking into the middle of Hitler rally and saying, "Who wants a circumcision? I'll give you a good price." It's like an Iraqi walking into Abu Ghraib, dropping his pants, and saying, "I know where the weapons are, and I bet you can't beat it out of me."

Where are all the playa haters? All the mother[Cheney]ers who are so anti-gay marriage and anti-homosexuality in general? James Dobson, a man so uptight he has to crowbar his @&& cheeks open so he can get rid of some of the &#!^ he's full of, and his Focus on the Family offer [Cheney]in' pamphlets on whether or not "marriage is in trouble," and books on how to "deal" with a gay relative. Concerned Women For America, a group of beaten-down [Cheney] dolls and breeding toys of the fundamentalist patriarchy, can't get enough of the gay-hatin'. Here's an entire [Cheney]in' list of &#!^ that's got their granny panties in a wad, including adoption by gays, transgender golfers, and gay tourism.

And, you know, c'mon, the [Cheney]in' Agape Press, the AP wannabe of fundamentalism, has written not a single word about Gannon or Guckert. Yet they still have plenty of time to rip on The Simpsons and its outing of Marge's sister as emblematic of Hollywood liberalism. 'Cause, see, cartoon dykestry is far, far more important than a real, live, lying @&&[Cheney]er in the White House.

What issue related to homosexuals has gotten the Christian right all hot and bothered? If you guessed gays [to serve] in the British Navy, you're on the ball - not in a gay way, unless you wanna be. The Family Policy Network and others can't get enough of Agape's coverage of this issue that matters to the hearts of every American Navy veteran who thinks, "Huh, when I [Cheney]ed that guy in the berth above me while we were on patrol in the Pacific, I wasn't gay. Now when he [Guckert]ed my dick, yeah, he was a fag."

You gotta think that the hateful, gaybashing, repressed men who weep while they masturbate to images of a buff George Bush in Uncle Sam garb gotta be shaking with rage at not being able to lash out at Gannon/Guckert. You know their cogs and wheels are steamin' up and breakin' down, Looney Tunes-style, trying to come up with ways to justify their silence on the matter. ("Well, the boy does say he's a Christian now, and anyone can forget to take down a nudie picture of themselves from the Internet.")

You know that they're gonna be projecting that bile and unquenchable need to condemn onto so, so many other things. You know that, like anyone who ever has had a sweet taste of genuine power, they are going to throw aside their morality and beliefs to cling to it, like a rat surfing home on the debris of a sunken ship.

The public opprobrium has hit home!

Talon News site closes to re-evaluate operations

The Texas-based online news site at the center of a White House media controversy has temporarily shut down because its founder "can only take so much of a beating" over the page's political slant, the site's publicist said Thursday. It's the latest step that Talon News owner and Pearland resident Bobby Eberle has taken to distance himself from James Guckert, the former Talon News Washington correspondent accused of being used by the Bush administration to spread conservative propaganda.

Guckert, whose pen name was Jeff Gannon, has since left Talon News, and the Web site address now features a short message explaining that it is undergoing a redesign and will operate again soon. "In order to better serve those readers across the country who enjoy Talon News content and look forward to receiving it each day, we feel compelled to re-evaluate operations in order to provide the highest quality, most professional product possible," it read.

Negative response

Eberle's phone has been disconnected, but his publicist, Jennifer Ohman, said that the large number of Web visitors attracted by the controversy "were not the kind of hits we were looking for. The attention by and large was negative. If anything, it seemed to fuel the fire."

Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group based in Washington, D.C, unmasked Guckert after he asked President Bush about working with Democrats who were "divorced from reality." Since then, bloggers have linked Guckert to gay porn Web sites and prostitution. Naked photos of Guckert have been widely circulated on the Web.

"They probably found it difficult to go on without Jeff Gannon who seemed to be the backbone of their editorial operation," said Media Matters' director David Brock. "To the extent that Talon News was a vehicle for a fair amount of misinformation, it's probably a good development."

Eberle has maintained that Talon News was a "straight news site," despite flashing advertisements for conservative causes and publications that reproduce its content. It also featured prominent links to, a conservative site also run by Eberle. "By having a separate news company, I take great pains to deliver the facts," Eberle said in a recent interview.

Quick controversy

Ohman said Eberle was unaware of Guckert's background, and did not plan to fire him when the controversy erupted. "It happened too fast," she said. "It seemed like the story was being perpetuated by the left-wing blogger types [note the slant? - ed] at first. We knew about the softball question, but I can't say it got to the point when Bobby wanted to (fire Gannon).

"How could you know? How much research did the New York Times do on their reporters when they ended up with Jason Blair?"

Until the Talon News site reopens, Ohman said she would direct devoted readers seeking dependable information[???] to the Drudge Report.

I guess you can depend on that 'information' being as biased as ever?

There is, however, some good news on the media scene:

Air America plugs top slot, aims for Chicago
February 25, 2005

After a 2 1/2-month vacancy in its top spot, Air America Radio has hired a new chief executive officer who says his "No. 1 priority" is getting the left-wing talk radio network on the air in Chicago.

"It's the largest market we're not in yet," said Danny Goldberg, a former record company executive tapped Thursday to run the network, which will mark its first anniversary on the air next month. "I believe in the next 90 days, we'll have something to announce."

Goldberg is the founder of Artemis Records, an independent label with a roster that includes Steve Earle and the late Warren Zevon. Before that, he ran at one time or another Warner Brothers Records, the Mercury Record Group and Atlantic Records, and founded Gold Mountain Entertainment, a management company whose clients included Nirvana.

The good news here is that a liberal with experience in reaching the public - evidenced by the success of his musician clients - is now in charge of Air America, which even Clear Channel is presenting in more markets.

Air America has been on an upswing, compared with the near-disaster that struck just two weeks after it launched. It was bounced off stations in Chicago and Los Angeles after a billing dispute and failed to meet payroll. But after ousting Chairman Evan Cohen in May and accusing him of vastly overstating the initial investment in the firm, Air America now reaches 48 markets covering half the nation's population, Goldberg said. That includes Los Angeles, where the network got back on the air this month. It also has recently attracted new advertisers, including Geico and American Express.

Goldberg takes over from Doug Kreeger, who stepped down in December after working to stabilize the network, negotiate long-term deals with hosts Randi Rhodes and Al Franken and secure $13 million in new financing to keep the business afloat. "There were a lot of problems along the way, but finding an audience wasn't one of them," Goldberg said. "This isn't a traditional radio network. It's like MTV or Rolling Stone; it's a cultural phenomenon."

It strikes some as ironic that Clear Channel, which has a reputation as a conservative-leaning firm, has emerged as Air America's most important distributor, but Goldberg said it proves liberal talk radio is a sound concept. "Some people would consider it ironic. I consider it capitalism at its best."

As our good wrong-wing friends muckdog and The Perfessor Toby would agree, I'm sure, capitalism works best when it meets the needs of customers at a fair price and at a fair profit. Such conditions must be available to Clear Channel, or they wouldn't present Air America at all. From this, one can draw a certain conclusion.

But first, to set the stage for that conclusion:

"Men with the muck-rake are often indispensable to the well-being of society."

- President Theodore Roosevelt

Thus I conclude: there must now be a profitable market for muckrakers!

I've waited half my life for this news!

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