Sunday, February 20, 2005

Running For Cover

Editor & Publisher has more specifics in the vetting process that allowed Jim Guckert into the White House press room. Consider the public ass-covering officially begun.

McClellan, who was deputy press secretary under Ari Fleischer when the initial Guckert approvals were given, became press secretary in July 2003. He said he currently has a staff of 12, only one of whom handles the 20 to 25 daily press passes issued each day. He said he had spoken with the staffer who approved Guckert's initial credential, but would not identify the person or comment on how he or she could consider GOPUSA -- which is run by Texas Republican activist Bobby Eberle -- to be a legitimate news organization.

"Our staff assistants do a good job," he said. "The staff assistant went to verify that the news organization existed."

However, Eberle has told The New York Times that he later created Talon to build a news service with a conservative slant and "if someone were to see 'GOPUSA,' there's an instant built-in bias there."

Gee, you think, Bobby? With geniuses like this calling the shots, it's easy to see why the Republican Party and its high-handed bullshit tactics are respected universally by the finest minds humanity has to offer.

Or not.

Anyway, take a look at the GOPUSA site and judge for yourself. It studiously avoids specific mention of the Republican Party on its title page (except for, um, the name of the site itself, but that's just nitpicking), but is chock-full of low-forehead boilerplate.

Even the ads are moronic, specifically designed to provoke. "FREE Special Report Exposes AARP's LIBERAL AGENDA", offers one. Oh, you mean the liberal AARP that Bush scammed into pimping his Medicare bill for him, the bill that's going to cost anywhere from $200 billion to $700 billion more than promised; the bill for which a supervisor threatened a bean-counting subordinate with his job if he leaked the actual cost of this turkey?

It's beside the point. The AARP is more than happy to remind both liberal and conservative politicians that they are there to insure that their constituency is seen to, and that they can be relied on to get out and vote their pleasure or displeasure. But no matter; they're pissed at being lied to, they're saying so, but it must be because they're liberal. It's base propaganda, pure and simple.

The "columnists", such as they are, are also a hoot. Case in point: a floater called Peter Principles, written by a "political analyst" for the Moonie-owned UPI press agency. The linked column attempts to show some sort of even-handedness, I suppose, in that it attacks Republicans for being insufficiently awed at Bush's non-fix-it for Social Security. Et tu, Lindsey Graham?, Peter somberly intones, as if he were trodding the boards with Kato Kaelin in a back-alley Shakespeare For Dummies production.

Never mind; Peter Principles at least live up to their namesake by finding their own special level of incompetence, and then burrowing in. It is precisely the level of 'turf hack commentary one would expect from an employee of the Moonies, much less a certain now-infamous gay hustler who originally tripped everyone's radar for just being a garden-variety plagiarist/shameless partisan tool.

So that's your quickie rundown of the "media" site which putatively employed Jim Guckert until its boutique agitprop offspring got birthed. Who knows how much cruder and more obvious that site was two years ago when Guckert first came on board, but whatever. The bottom line is that if it's so damned legit and obvious to all, why did Talon feel the need to flush their Guckert archive the second he came under scrutiny? Huh? Hmm? Riddle me that one, Pete, if your creepy lunatic cult-overseer boss will let you. You might have to put a crown on him and call him "Daddy" first.

Fleischer told E&P yesterday that he had concerns in 2003 that GOPUSA was not a legitimate news service and might have Republican Party ties, and he stopped calling on Guckert at briefings for about a week. But, after speaking with GOPUSA and Talon News owner Eberle, and being assured that the sites supposedly had no connection to the party, he resumed calling on Guckert.

McClellan confirmed that such concerns were raised. "I remember when Ari and I talked about it, we were concerned who he represented and checked with staff who said he represented a conservative news Web site named GOPUSA," McClellan said. "We were concerned because he was a new face in the White House. I think we did ask questions about it and Ari talked to the editor."

Oh, well I guess that settles that, doesn't it? Please. "[B]eing assured that the sites supposedly had no connection to the party" is just a euphemism for plausible deniability. Eberle is a GOP delegate. Are we seriously expected to just believe that a party delegate sets up a de facto propaganda site independent of any and all party influence -- platform papers, talking points, etc.? Once again, we turn to our trusty IOKIYAR issue-consequence model, pay slight scrutiny to the picayune things we spent eight years and $50 million digging for last time 'round, and see a rather stark contrast in function and fact.

Here is the transcript of Guckert's interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. It's typically dodgy and self-serving. Payback is indeed a bitch -- a big, fat, sweaty 500-pound bitch with ham-hock arms and dimpled knees and six or eight chins, wearing an old car cover for a muu-muu. Payback has to rent people to scratch her back and tie her shoes.

Come give Payback a big ol' wet sloppy kiss, Jimbo.

COOPER: You have been very clear that you believe this is politically motivated. And I think just about everyone probably agrees with that, that you asked that question, it was a softball, and liberal bloggers went after you to find out what they could in the public domain about you. But isn't that -- and you say that's unfair. Isn't that -- aren't those the same techniques that you yourself used as a reporter that sort of -- to publish innuendo, to publish advocacy-driven, politically motivated reports?

GANNON: Well, I don't see it that way. But what was -- what's been done to me is far in excess of what has ever been done to any other journalist that I could remember. My life has been turned inside out and upside down. And, again, it makes us all wonder that if someone disagrees with you, that is now your personal life fair game? And I'm hoping that fair-minded people will stand up and say that what's been done to me is wrong, and that -- that people's personal lives have no impact on their ability to be a journalist, you know. Why should my past prevent me from having a future?

Even as we've been making schadenfreude-laden cracks about Guckert's online sex hustling, we are acutely aware of the fine line we tread when we crack wise about this sort of thing. But we always walk the talk when we go to the voting booth; we have always and consistently been pro-leaving-people-the-hell-alone. Conversely, Guckert's dark lords despise him for who he is, and use him as political currency to curry favor with evangelical fascists.

So I don't wanna hear any more bullshit about how hypocritical liberals are in taking down a gay prostitute for his ideology. Several of the people who have been integral in breaking this story are gay. John Aravosis of AmericaBlog is gay. David Brock of Media Matters is gay (and a recovering ex-right-winger). For that matter, Anderson Cooper is gay. So what? It's the prostitution aspect of Guckert's sexual proclivity that is unseemly, not the particular orientation. The thing is, the bullshitters know that already. But that's all so yesterday, so reality-based.

Bonus: RawStory is saying that many mainstream outlets are gearing up to finally investigate the whole Guckert mess. Even the New Yorker is jumping onboard, which should help give some serious credence to what has so far been portrayed as a mere token obsession of the pajamahadeen. Stay tuned....


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