Friday, February 11, 2005

Who the Fuck is "Jeff Gannon"?

Holy State Driven Propaganda Batman! The list of “Bush Media Whores” seems to be growing by the day.

You thought the Bush and his NeoCon pals had it easy with Rush Limbaugh, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and the like all serving as daily cheerleaders. Appears that it wasn't enough, and now Republican operatives planted in the White House press corps are being outed just as Armstrong Williams and other "commentators" were found to be on the take.

Talon News, which fronts as the news division of “GOPUSA” (a Republican activism web site), has announced that their Washington, DC reporter and White House Correspondent Jeff Gannon has resigned as February 8, 2005.

Robert Eberle, the wealthy Republican financier of both web sites, said he is searching for Gannon’s replacement. The identity of Gannon was a mystery to the traditional media outlets until his peculiar appearances and slanted questions at White House press conferences began to catch the attention of left-thinking Internet web bloggers.

Gannon’s identity and role in the Bush administration’s courting of journalists and talking heads (authentic or otherwise) began to unravel as January came to a close. David Brock’s “Media Matters for America” documented numerous instances in the past year when Gannon was filling his reports with words lifted directly from RNC “fact sheets” (equivalent to Ari Fleischer or Scott McClellan’s “talking points”).

Brock even called on the White House to revoke Gannon’s access to press conferences, because he was acting on behalf of a GOPUSA, a Republican PR machine, rather than an organization attempting objective journalism. His urgings culminated in Guckert's "resignation" from Talon News.

What is known is that Gannon was cleared on a day-by-day basis by White House Press Secretary McClellan, or someone close to him. He was frequently called on to toss softball questions at McClellan or the President during times of intensive scrutiny from other members of the press corps. On January 26th, he was called during President Bush’s latest press conference. His question was later found to be lifted directly from one of Rush Limbaugh’s recent shows.

The loaded, anti-Democratic Party question, caught not only the attention of the other reporters present, but quickly sent viewers scrambling to their computer to find out who Jeff Gannon and Talon News (the name comes as a sort of right-wing response to the left-leaning Salon.com) exactly were.

Turns out that not only was Talon News not a real news organization; the “reporter” proclaiming to be Jeff Gannon was in fact James Guckert. Gannon, or Guckert, resigned immediately. Talon News erased all of his work from their web site. As did other sites that had published his material. His own site, was shut down (he leaves only a message begging for forgiveness and sympathy).

Apparently, anyone can get a White House press pass. At least, that’s what the White House would have us believe. McClellan said it was not his job to determine what constitutes a reporter. The Secret Service do regular checks on all reporters given temporary or permanent passes into the White House. Somehow (unbeknownst to McClellan and others inside the White House), a man using a phony name was given access to George Bush’s home just about every day for the past two years. Maybe it’s time for us all to call up the White House and inquire about the availability of these easy to come by press passes.

With CNN’s Wolf Blitzer today, Guckert said: “(Jeff Gannon is my) professional name. I used it because Jeff Gannon is easier to pronounce (than James Guckert) and easier to remember.”

I’ve heard of other people using “professional names.”

They’re called ACTORS.

Last Summer, Guckert's request for a permanent press pass to the White House was denied by the group that issues them to reporters. The White House itself is still mum about how he was then able to receive passes on a daily basis from someone in the White House Press Office.

Talon was not granted a congressional press credential, therefore Gannon was accessing the White House without a "hard pass," the permanent press credential that allows other White House reporters regular access. The daily press credentials that Gannon was receiving are easier to get, but must be obtained each day.

According to his bio on Talon's Web site (which has now been removed), he graduated from the prestigious “Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism” -- a two-day, $50 seminar run by Morton Blackwell. Who is Morton Blackwell – the co-founder of Rev. Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. J

Guckert’s history with RNC causes, as well as his work that’s now being erased magically in front of us, was all documented by bloggers like “World O’Crap.”

Word is already floating around that Dems will gang up and demand that Guckert and similar issues surrounding Armstrong Williams and other commentators bankrolled by the Fed. be investigated (And most recently...it appears that the Pentagon was bankrolling writers to develop military-friendly content).

Guckert’s role in the Bush Saga also involves the outing of a CIA agent. Remember that? Gannon received a classified CIA memo that named Valerie Plame as an operative within the agency. Her being outed as an undercover agent came via Jon Stewart’s favorite columnist/pundit, Bob Novak, in retaliation for her husband speaking out against the administration.

All in all, the Guckert/Gannon tale is a strange one. Well, at least it doesn't involve any gay porn web sites. Wait, ....oh crap. Not exactly Ron Jeremy, but a nice try.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Poor Event Planning Compromises Unique Opportunity for University

This was the kind of exposure that companies pay millions for on Super Bowl Sunday.

On Saturday night, when Las Vegas was buzzing with speculation of what would transpire in Jacksonville, folks in Kansas City gave a local underdog a chance.

UMKC had monopolized the sports attention of the entire Metro area (on a Saturday night, no less!). Municipal Auditorium was buzzing with talk of “Missouri’s best basketball team.” The University had not seen the local spotlight (sports or otherwise) like this in the 18 years since the basketball program began a relationship with the NCAA. Through the efforts of the men’s basketball team, the University was beginning to see unparalleled, positive exposure on talk radio stations and in other media outlets. Not bad for a University most local residents have trouble identifying geographically.

When this unique opportunity came Saturday insufficient event planning harmed the University as much as the crowd of 6,500 helped its cause in the highly competitive academic and athletic community.

Those that did make it inside to witness Chicago State’s improbable victory represented an impressive sight for the University. However, scores of others were turned off by the overflow of people outside Municipal’s lobby trying to secure tickets before tip-off. Countless parties were walking and driving away a half-hour before the contest had began. This was the defining visual of the evening (Chicago State’s buzzer beater registers as a close second).

Ticket scalpers seized the chance to capitalize on the chaotic ticket sale situation. Ushers were still seating people in the minutes prior to halftime. The tremendous recent performance of the men’s basketball team was not enough to combat the disorganization on display at Municipal.

UMKC could easily find itself returning to the media's equivalent of obscurity, a state that it had been mired in for so long prior to 2005. In a year where attention on the University has concerned the ousting of its Chancellor, and anonymously published documents threatening the removal of entire academic departments, one would hope that administrative leadership will focus future efforts on understanding the importance of these opportunities.

Whether or not those who were turned away Saturday give the University a second chance, accommodations must be made at Municipal and elsewhere to ensure Saturday’s scenario is not repeated. If the University continues to leave people out in the cold, then it must be ready to face the music when the community does likewise.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Rwanda internationalists vs. Vidal's "America First"

Nick Barron, editor-in-chief of UMKC’s U-News, has done his best Woodrow Wilson impression after viewing the critically acclaimed film "Hotel Rwanda." While I do not doubt that good intentions exist behind the piece, Barron’s position on American humanitarian efforts and our country’s place in the world (as a global police force) highlight the opinion held by the MAJORITY of those in power, not the silent minority he depicts within the piece.

"I can blame conservatives for wanting to isolate this country and keep it from stepping in to resolve conflicts in remote parts of the world..."

--No, it's just flat out incorrect to blame conservatives for attempts to direct the country with an agenda that includes a foreign policy of isolationism. The neo-conservatives have picked up President Wilson's torch to begin a new revolution characterized by perpetual war (inevitably, this will include the occasional token effort to find more humanitarian-based wars to become involved with).

--Isolationists have been shunned by politicians and media since the First World War and again in WWII when anti-statists like Gore Vidal argued against the William Buckley-lead groups calling for the escalation of American involvement overseas. The interventionists, or “internationalists” as Wilson supporters described themselves, have had their way for better part of the last century.

--It has never been a matter of liberal or conservative ideology preventing the US from becoming involved in foreign entanglements (i.e. Iraq) that curiously tend to spiral out of our control. Anti-statists have existed (albeit at the unpopular fringes) of both political parties. Vidal came to blows (literally) with Buckley in the 60’s on television at a time when he sensed the interventionist policies of Buckley's backers dominating Washington.

"...what is it about us Americans that makes us so passive about international problems? Why do we feel isolated in this great land of ours? What makes us so selfish with the resources and talents God has given us?"

--The founding fathers…that’s the short answer as to the Who’s and Why’s of what makes us wary toward these foreign adventures. Jefferson and his contemporaries warned against entangling alliances (NATO, UN, etc.) and attempts to extend the republic’s influence (military, cultural, economic, etc.) beyond our borders. They saw that future generations would face backlash (a la 9/11) from the deals brokered by their predecessors. Excursions, whether they are into Iraq or the Sudan, would ultimately bankrupt the country and lead to unnecessary losses of life. They spoke of a direct link that could be drawn between rising involvement in foreign matters and diminishing freedoms and liberties at home.

“…we have the brainpower, the manpower and the wealth to make a difference in our international community.”

--Brainpower? Manpower? Wealth? Where, Nick? Here?

--As to the wealth, I suppose you must be overlooking the federal deficits. Although President Reagan felt otherwise, rest assured that deficits DO matter. If an omniscient force were to wipe those debts away, then I suppose US dollars would resemble more than the monopoly currency they are slowly becoming.

--And, yes, the manpower is there the moment the President calls for the executive order to reinstate the draft. The first reference to ‘brainpower’ puzzles me even more. Is this the same intellectual capacity that justifies Americans dying in a desert while in search of fictitious weapons? I find it hard to believe that this same collection of individuals could muster the ability to solve complexities that actually exist in the world when they are so focused on those which do not.

“It is our job; it is my job and it is your job to pay attention to events in places such as Rwanda, Indonesia and Sudan.”

--While the film does produce a tremendous emotional reaction from the audience, let’s not pretend that US troops (thrown in the middle of this internal strife) would have significantly altered the region’s violent history. If anything, the body counts and the ethnic divisions would only be worse. Has Iraq not shown the concerns of the founding fathers to be valid? We cannot export democracy or racial harmony around the globe. It is as futile as aiming to stop tsunamis and other natural disasters.

--Stepping in and solving problems across the world is not the responsibility of a Republic, but it has certainly been in the interest of Empires. Since those in power have already decided that we are the latter, I expect you will get your wish in the not too distant future. On the horizon are additional opportunities for conflict in which more Americans perish and our system gets pushed to the point of collapse. Continued deficit spending, and spreading our already thin global military even further, will not lead to solutions for the problems that exist in regions like the Sudan or the Middle East. If we want to continue with Empire, then we will not be able to preserve the last remnants of the Republic.

We simply cannot have it both ways.

Other Happenings in Bizarro World

We've made it through the first month of 2005 in what has become Bizarro World. January was packed with plenty of bizarre moments to choose from.
First, Fox News Live Anchorwoman Brigitte Quinn is shocked Vanity Fair's Judy Bachrach criticizes the nature of Bush's gazillion dollar inauguration. In Bizarro World, it is inappropriate for people to criticize the sitting President on the largest cable news network.

A University President cannot discuss explanations as to why women are not gaining esteemed positions in the same numbers that their male counterparts are.

Shills for the dominant political party justify their support of state-lead war mongering by spinning their own fictious tales of combat, while others are just flat out paid to stay in line.

Massive Federal Deficits are compounded by wasteful technology programs, and ambiguous firms profit mightily through overseas excursions (regardless of the threat is real or not).

The media is in cahots with the government to deliver the official party line, while slivers of the people's voices find a way to creep into the media consciousness.

Amidst it all, the sanctity of you know what it is threatened....our most noble student publications.