The Truth Shall Set You Free, Propaganda-Gate Marches On
By Anthony Wade
February 18, 2005
There has been a never ending drumbeat from the right that there is a liberal media bias. While this may have been true decades ago, it has not been true in recent times. The recent Propaganda-Gate stories have proven beyond all doubt that todays media is but a toothless version of its former self. What they truly reveal is what is becoming a dangerous prospect for all Americans. Without a truly free press, we are left far too vulnerable to a government that already is precipitously too unaccountable.
The mainstream media is in bad shape these days. They have been hamstrung on both ends. From the Bush administration, they have been bullied and threatened. Veteran reporters have been banned from the press corps for simply having the temerity of asking a fair question of the Teflon President. The press corps has been given instructions on what can and cannot be asked on visits to military bases. They have had their press access removed for no real reasons, other than partisanship. We must all understand that this is livelihood for most of these folks. Without the access, they have no quotes, no stories, no jobs. Thus, they must try to adjust, conform, or even sell-out. The bottom line is any real journalist in the press corps for the past two years KNEW that Jeff Gannon was not a real journalist. They KNEW he sounded like a plant. They KNEW he was wasting everyones time but not ONE of them had the guts to do their job and investigate who he was, and what he was doing with such close access to the president and this administration. NOT ONE. The only rationale I can figure is fear. This administration has made its reputation on ruining journalists so investigating a potential plant, someone who was relied upon by the administration, could be career-suicide. Think that is over-dramatic? Ask Maureen Dowd, who revealed today that her pass was revoked as soon as this administration came into power, for no reason. So instead of making waves, they sat by and allowed this miscreant to infect the press pool, to ask the most inane, softball questions, and to drag their journalistic integrity down into the sewer.
As if that was not bad enough, the mainstream media gets it from the other side as well. They get it from their ownership. Ownership of todays mainstream media is decidedly pro-Bush. Now, a lot of that might have to do with the deregulation that Bush favors, which allows for increased profits, at the expense of any transparency and competition in media. Ten years ago, you never would have seen the NY Daily News publish a Bill OReilly column, but there he is today, despite the recent sex-scandals. When you look at cable news, that is where ownership clearly instills a conservative-media bias. Fox News is a propaganda arm of the White House, but they are a known entity, and as such can only do limited damage. They have their viewership and they tune in to hear the distorted views of the Bush administration being passed off as news. The REAL damage Fox News does is it makes all other cable news appear mainstream, when they are really Fox-Lite. MSNBC runs people like Joe Scarborough, a former GOP Congressman, as a news host and they just signed Tucker Carlson to balance out the king of Softball, Chris Matthews. CNN has been exposed as being a shill for this administration as well (http://opednews.com/wade_021105_blitzer_shill.htm).
So, what you have is mainstream media being beaten down from both sides. They are left with thinking that reporting is simply regurgitating what is told to them by administration officials. Just this past week, we saw an exclusive interview by Sean Hannity of Karl Rove. Hannity, ever the whore of this administration, asked no journalistic questions and simply allowed a Rove infomercial for the entire half-hour. This is what passes for news in latter-day America. It is repulsive. After Jeff Gannon resigned, Wolf Blitzer of CNN had Gannon on for an exclusive. In this 10 minute fluff piece we saw Wolf accept that excuse of using the fake name of Jeff Gannon because it was easier to pronounce than his real name, Jim Guckert. We saw Wolf ask no follow-up questions to Gannons lie about Talon News being a legitimate organization. We saw no inquiry into Gannons connection to the Valerie Plame story, which has treasonous implications. Lastly, in this ten-minute Gannon infomercial, we saw Wolf refuse to investigate the seedy names of the websites founded by Gannon, as he accepted his lame excuse of never having hosted the sites. Just one day later it was revealed that Gannon had hosted the sites, had posted 47 pornographic self-pictures, and that he was indeed a $1,200 per-weekend gay prostitute. Instead, Wolf passed off this exclusive as journalism, when all it really turned out to be was a free ten minutes of air time for the discredited Gannon. This is what passes for journalism today. It is disgusting.
So, as the Gannon story was breaking close to two weeks ago, we saw only one group of people interested in the festering issue and that was the new media. The mainstream media sat on their hands. They really had no choice when you look at the situation they were in. By covering the story they would have to cover the fact that they ignored it for two years and were scooped yet again by the new media in this country. Instead, what we see now is some of the mainstream media coming out and having to address it. When it first broke, there was criticism of the bloggers for having to go after poor Mr. Gannons personal life. The attempt was to discredit the bloggers, and portray Gannon as the victim. Then the story got a little more twisted. Gannon turned out to be Guckert and questions were raised about how he got into the press corps without credentials and with a fake name. Mainstream media again tried to downplay the angle, saying he only got day passes and he worked for an online news service. Now today we find out that the first time Gannon actually was in a White House press conference was the month before Talon News was even in business. It seems that every time the mainstream media gets involved it is only to try and excuse or downplay this incident, and then it blows up in their face. They downplayed the website hostings of such congenial sites as hotmilitarystud.com only to find out that Gannon was actually selling his gay sexual favors for $1,200 per weekend. The story is not Gannon anymore; it is why the mainstream media is trying to downplay any harm this story might do to this administration instead of investigating it to see where it leads. That is the story.
Take the case of David Corn. Corn has long been on the fringe of mainstream and new media. He has written a fine book exposing the lies of this president and coined my favorite term about Bush, which is that he mugs the truth. Corn is a bit of an enigma though. Every time he seems mainstream, he acts new media, and vice-a-versa. Yesterday, he finally weighed in on the Gannon situation, which can be found here:
This article may as well have been written by CNN or Fox News in its attempts to downplay what should be an incredibly important story. For summary purposes, the Gannon story can now be summed up as follows:
A man who used a fake name, worked for a fake news agency, was granted free and unfettered access to the President of the United States and his representatives for the apparent only purpose of asking partisan questions designed to set up the administration to propagandize. Furthermore, this is during a post-911 age, where the same White House routinely denies real reporters the same access. Lastly, this man owes over $20,000 in back taxes from the 1990s and has now been confirmed as being a male prostitute, charging $1,200 per weekend for his sexual services.
Is this a worthy story? You have got to be kidding me. There are multiple angles that are worthy stories. Can you imagine what would have happened to Bill Clinton had this break under his administration? You have the propaganda angle of the administration, in the wake of Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher, where it appears that Bush has now planted a fake reporter in his own press pool. You have the angle of how credentialing is done by this administration when a man using a fake name is vetted as ok while a seasoned, respected reporter such as Maureen Dowd is denied. You have the angle of how Gannon got into his first press conference when his fake news agency had not even been in business yet. You have the strange relationship angle to McClellan who seemed to know Jeff. Lastly, you have the sex angles which are varied and disturbing. Originally when I was covering this developing story I stayed away from the sex angles because they were unproven and the propaganda angle was far more disturbing. After seeing the pornography of Jeff Gannon, I realize that both stories have merit. This administration has made a living off of being anti-gay and pro-family values so the stench of the hypocrisy of this story needs answering. How did a male hooker gain such close access to the president and the chief proponent for moral values?
Amidst all of these angles is the story of this year. It is the story that reveals some blatant hypocrisy of this administration. It is a story that is wrapped up in other stories that reveal an attempt by this administration to create the news for you. To say this story is not important is to clearly show whose side you are lining up on. On the side of the people, is the new media that refused to be deterred by the mainstream that cried foul because they all got caught with their collective pants down. It is the side that sees Jeff Gannon for what he truly is, a microcosm. He is a symptom of a diseased system. He is everything that is wrong in media today, because he is not media, he is propaganda.
On the other side is the state-sponsored journalism that Bush desires. It is for exclusive infomercials that pass as news. It is people being paid hundreds of thousands of YOUR tax dollars to tell you what to think. It is the side that wants you to believe that this story is no big deal. That Jeff Gannon is a non-story. It appears that David Corn has aligned himself with the state-sponsored journalism side.
The following are direct quotes from the latest Corn article referenced above (in italics) with my response, following each comment:
The blogosphere in recent months has become the piling-on-osphere.
Perhaps it has been so long since journalism was practiced that Mr. Corn has forgotten what it looks like. This was not piling on. What we had was some real investigative work being done by bloggers to uncover the truth. One day we had a partisan journalist. The next day we had a fake journalist. The next day we had a fake news agency fronted by GOPUSA. The next day Gannon turns out to be Guckert, and then he ends up as a male prostitute. If people were unfairly judging him, or lying about him, then I would agree that there was piling on. Searching for and reporting about the truth is not piling on. It should be at the heart of true journalism.
When there is blood in the water--or on the keyboard--bloggers rush in for the kill.
Again, Mr. Corn seems to overlooking the real journalism that occurred with this case. Jeff Gannon lied about who he was. He lied about his training. He decided to sell himself for $1,200 per weekend. How exactly did anyone rush in for the kill?
Yet the speed and drama of these trials-by-blog may be cause for quasi-concern not unfettered celebration.
I would agree if bloggers speculate, or run with unsubstantiated claims and report them as fact. There always is that risk in blogger-land. Those concerns do not appear to be warranted in this case however. Additionally, mainstream media has lost nearly all of its credibility as well under this administration. The failure to properly vet the WMD claims and hype a war on false pretenses will be its legacy. For decades I will have the vision of Katie Couric saying Navy Seals rock! burned in my brain as being representative of where media is heading.
But with the Gannon/Guckert case, I wonder if there was a touch of blog-hysteria.
Are you kidding me? A gay prostitute gains access to the president and his administration and is regularly called on to pitch propaganda and you think it is hysteria? A moral values, anti-gay president no less. During a post-911 administration that scrutinizes everything. I would seriously ask Mr. Corn how he thinks this story would be portrayed if this occurred under Clinton. The fact is there is not enough hysteria about this story.
But is it possible that significance of this odd tale was inflated during the red-hot pursuit of this fellow?
No, not in the slightest. If the pursuit turned up nothing, I would agree. With each passing day however the story unravels further and we see the depths it is falling to. The story has its own merits, which have nothing to do with the pursuit, which is of the truth, not this fellow.
Gannon/Guckert's pursuers ought to be careful and note that the problem with Gannon/Guckert was not that he was a reporter with an obvious political bent but that he had weak credentials and an iffy background.
Wrong, it is both, and far more. Is Mr. Corn condoning the shilling of partisan positions in lieu of real journalism? This is not the case of someone who may be left or right leaning asking a fair question that highlights the side they lean to. That stuff balances out in the end. Jeff Gannon asked asinine questions, which only had one purpose and that was to spread propaganda. That cannot be so casually accepted in a free society.
Gannon/Guckert's critics have portrayed him as a White House plant. That could be an overstatement.
Could be? I guess so, could also not be. The way we used to find out in this country is through investigative journalism. That is the point. Was Gannon a plant? I dont know. What I do know is you will never find out writing articles that try to downplay the importance of the possibility.
So Gannon/Guckert was not much help to the McClellan at these briefings. If he asked McClellan an easy question, that would not change the course of the entire briefing and save McClellan from other reporters.
Is that really the point? Isnt the point that the peoples time not be wasted? Isnt the point that no one should be allowed to have access to the president to pitch propaganda, posing as journalism? Did McClellan at least enjoy the brief respite? Of course he did. This quote just seems to want to minimize the effects instead of staying focused on the issue.
If he received preferential treatment from the White House, my hunch is that he did so due to sloppiness on the part of the press office or because he was viewed as simpatico.
I appreciate Mr. Corns hunches and would love to see him investigate them to confirm or debunk them. Journalism and truth.
Gannon/Guckert, according to the record so far, was a bit player in the Wilson affair. The leak he received was an after-the-fact leak.
I point you to the so far portion of this quote. Two days ago we thought that so far Gannon only hosted sites such as militarystud.com for a business associate. Now, we know he actually was selling his sexual services on them. Last week we thought his real name so far was Gannon. Now we know he was lying. That is the entire point of journalism.
It is not beyond belief that partisans in the White House or on Capitol Hill saw Gannon/Guckert as a safe outlet. But it is also possible his involvement in the Wilson affairs was more a sideshow than anything else.
Absolutely. It is also possible that someone in the White House leaked the memo to him. The same person who kept clearing him for access he never should have had. Heck, anything is possible. Through investigative journalism, we can hope to turn what was possible, into what really happened.
The Gannon/Guckert affair--which has yielded serious questions the White House needs to address--has generated much chest-pounding within the world of liberal bloggers.
This seems like such a self-serving statement designed to make the bloggers seem unprofessional. I do not recall seeing a lot of chest pounding. I did a piece on how the new media had flexed its collective muscles, but is that chest pounding? I dont know. What I do know is the mainstream media sat with this male hooker for two years and watched him ask the most stupidest questions imaginable and it took some lowly bloggers to do what they could not, their job. Ok, now that was chest-pounding.
In all seriousness to the mainstream, I mentioned at the start of this article the horrible position they find themselves in.
I don't begrudge the bloggers their victory lap--but it would not be good form to show too much glee. And Gannon/Guckert might be a smaller prize than assumed. (He's no Dan Rather--or Armstrong Williams.)
Dead wrong. Jeff Gannon is bigger than Rather. Not in name but in importance. He is part of the same story as Williams, so I will not compare the two. He is the heart of what is wrong in media and what must be excised if we are to ever trust media again.
Yet it could be that this story--regrettably--is mostly about a wannabe than the powers that be.
Mr. Corn continues to minimize the story by deflecting the attention from the true story. Jeff Gannon was a wannabe, no argument there. He is not the story though and that is where Mr. Corn misses the mark. The story is the powers that be. It is about a government that is in the business of using tax dollars to buy public opinion. It is about a government that fakes news stories. It is about an administration that has a network of propaganda at its disposal that it uses with impunity. It is about a White House that can deny Maureen Dowd access to the White House Press Corps, while allowing a male prostitute the same access.
I do not pick on David Corn; I was only taken aback by the decidedly administrative tone his article took. Dismissing this story only serves one person, and that is Bush. I found it difficult to understand how someone who did such a great expose on the lies of Bush could get so easily snookered on this one.
Either way, the myth of the liberal media bias is over. There is a decidedly conservative media bias and it grows more and more obvious every day. The only mainstream cable news host even reporting this story is Keith Olbermann, the same one who was the only person to report on the overwhelming evidence of fraud in the presidential elections.
People are lining up on two sides. On one side are the people that want this story to just go away. They are in support of government sponsored propaganda as news. They think that Sean Hannity allowing Karl Rove to talk for a half an hour without any journalistic questions being asked, is an exclusive. They think that Wolf Blitzer allowing a liar to lie for ten minutes without so much as a logical follow-up is an exclusive. They think that a gay male prostitute pretending to be a reporter, asking softball questions of the President of the United States is not a big deal and people who question it are just being hysterical. They are lining up to tell you what to think. They are lining up to package your news for you. They are lining up to sell you their product. Two years ago it was WMD. One year ago it was moral values. This year it will be a social security scam. At its heart, there is nothing journalistic about it, nothing honest about it, and nothing real about it.
On the other side, real people are lining up to try and desperately hold onto the truth. They see Jeff Gannon as a cancer in our system, but only a single cell of that cancer. He is not the story. No matter how many naked pictures they find of him, Jeff Gannon is not the story. The story is about an administration that would allow a Jeff Gannon to become a story. It is about a president that thinks the news is something he can manipulate, package and sell you. It is about an administration that thinks it can sweep the Jeff Gannons of their world under the rug and you will let it happen. The bloggers and new media are lining up to say no more. When you remove the cancer that is Jeff Gannon, there will be another there willing to take his place unless you solve the real problem. That problem has a name and it is propaganda. The cure has always been there and has been used for centuries. That cure is the truth and it shall set you free.
Anthony Wade, a contributing writer to opednews.com, is dedicated to educating the populace to the lies and abuses of the government. He is a 37-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive and professional Rehabilitation Counselor working with the poor and disabled, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess.
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