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Tuesday, March 08, 2005  


'Ho' blogger is history

The word 'whore,' and its contemporary version, 'ho,' is thrown around rather liberally these days. But, sometimes the term is earned. It appears that former blogger Jeff Gannon collected at least some of his income from prostituting himself to other men. The blogger came under scrutiny after he won the affection of the Bush administration and was allowed to participate in White House news conferences. His extreme Right Wing views, presented on his blog and at his employer's site, made 'journalist' an ill-fitting term for him. Gannon found himself out of the frying pan and into the fire when he attracted additional attention by demeaning Democrats in a 'question' that served no other purpose at a news conference last month. Close scrutiny revealed him to be James Guckert of Wilmington, Delaware. Guckert sold his services, apparently sexual, through a variety of Internet escort sites. Photographs of an unclad and excited Guckert are still available on the Web, though some of the sites have been removed. The other shoe in the sordid episode fell March 1. The putative news organization that employed Gannon/Guckert has ceased publication.

Reuters reports.

A Texas-based Web site, whose conservative connections touched off a White House media controversy, has shut down "to re-evaluate operations", according to a message posted on the site.

A spokesperson for Talon News said the site closed because its founder, Bobby Eberle of Pearland, Texas, "can only take so much beating" over the page's political slant, the Houston Chronicle reported on Friday.

Talon, which could not immediately be reached for comment, came under fire after its White House reporter, who identified himself as Jeff Gannon, asked a politically loaded question at a White House press conference and was accused by critics of being used by the Bush administration to spread conservative propaganda.

Since then, Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, has been linked to gay porn Web sites and prostitution, and photos of him naked have circulated on the Web.

Gannon deleted his blog after Internet sleuths divulged the content of the Internet sites where the supposed conservative Christian apparently peddled himself. He had previously said that the sites were unused. In his last public remarks, Gannon claimed that he had decided to keep a low profile because of threats against him online and via email. He has offered no explanation of why he chose to live such a schizoid lifestyle.

Blogger gets White House press pass

The unsavory episode involving James Guckert gave another blogger an idea. Sure, he thought, that was a heck of mess. But, shouldn't a person with a blog about politics, a real name, and, no hidden agenda, be able to acquire a press pass? With some pulling of strings by Big Media, the goal was achieved. There is now a blogger who has a White House press pass, minus the baggage of Gannon/Guckert.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

WASHINGTON -- With an official credential hanging from his neck, a young man stepped into the White House briefing room Monday as perhaps the first blogger to cover the daily press briefings. He found the surroundings to be dilapidated and cramped and concluded that his morning at the White House was "remarkably uneventful."

Garrett M. Graff, 23, writes Fishbowl D.C., a Web log about the news media in Washington. He decided to see if he could get a daily pass for a briefing after a recent controversy raised questions about White House access and who is a legitimate reporter.

Graff said he got his pass after a week of asking.

I do not perceive any particular problem in granting press passes to non-professionals. The same criteria should be applied to bloggers as reporters, including a proven identity and a legitimate reason for seeking the pass. However, I do hope that inclusion of bloggers in press briefings at the White House and elsewhere doesn't result in embarrassment. The major difference between journalists and publishers of web logs is that the latter rely almost exclusively on opinion. That reliance can result in myopia and even hostility to factual information. James Guckert showed us what happens when a political operative tries to pass himself off as a reporter -- partisan chicanery. Let's hope other bloggers who achieve the same access journalists have do not embarrass the blogosphere by trying to politicize the news they cover.

8:00 PM