White House press scandal: The story gets juicier…

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005 @ 3:31 pm | Current Events

You may have heard about Jeff Gannon (real name James Guckert), the now-former White House correspondent for tiny right-wing website Talon News, owned by a Republican operative from Texas named Bobby Eberle.

Guckert received daily White House press credentials for almost two years, despite his lack of journalistic experience. (It’s worth noting that Guckert was unable to get a Congressional press pass, often a prerequisite for getting a White House pass). Guckert lobbed partisan softball questions at McClellan and Bush, and was recently exposed by liberal bloggers after Bush called on him during a televised press conference. Guckert has since left Talon News, and Talon has scrubbed all of his stories from their site.

Now it turns out that Guckert may be a gay escort. Yesterday, AMERICAblog uncovered numerous gay websites registered to Mr. Guckert and found nude photos on other gay websites that strongly resemble Guckert. He also owes over $20,000 in back taxes to his home state of Delaware. In addition, Guckert is rumored to be connected to the Valerie Plame leak (Plame, the wife of diplomat Joseph Wilson, had her CIA cover blown by columnist Robert Novak, after Wilson concluded that Saddam did not attempt to purchase uranium from Africa, as alleged by the White House).

Guckert responds to many of the allegations in a Editor and Publisher interview here. As of today, E&P reports that Guckert is no longer speaking to the press.

All this comes on the heels of revelations that several governmental departments paid three syndicated columnists to shill for White House policies. Democrats are now calling for an investigation into how Guckert got the coveted White House press credentials. The mainstream news media hasn’t quite picked up on the latest developments yet, although the Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin and C-SPAN have covered it, among others.

So how did a reporter for a small partisan news website owned by a Texas Republican activist — a reporter with no legitimate journalistic credentials — get repeated access to White House press briefings? Why did Scott McClellan call on him by his assumed first name? Why did Bush call on him in a rare televised press conference? Did he have access to the Valerie Plame leak, and why? Was anyone aware of his private life?

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