Retracting the Talon
The ConWeb relies on the same news-gathering techniques as Jeff Gannon -- softball questions at White House press briefings and copying from press releases.
By Terry Krepel
Thank goodness for Eason Jordan.
That's what the ConWeb is surely thinking. If it couldn't spend time reviving those timeworn attacks on the so-called liberal media by way of the resignation of the CNN president over reportedly claiming that the U.S. military was deliberately targeting journalists in war zones, the ConWeb might be forced to write about a subject a little too close to home -- Jeff Gannon.
Why? Gannon, aka James Guckert, the former writer for conservative Talon News, has a couple things in common with his ideological confederates in the ConWeb: a taste for press-release journalism and a practice of asking loaded or softball questions at White House press briefings.
Les Kinsolving, a conservative Baltimore radio host who has a history of pitching loaded polemics-in-the-form-of-questions to White House press secretaries, is WorldNetDaily's designated softball hurler, as ConWebWatch documented last year. Among Kinsolving's Gannon-esque liberal-bashing softballs:
Kinsolving has managed to thus far escape the scrutiny that Gannon collapsed under, for a few reasons. First, he's currently out of the briefing room and off the air as he recuperates from a heart attack. Second, unlike Gannon, he hasn't been pursuing the masquerade of writing "news stories" for an conservative advocacy group posing as a news organization -- while WorldNetDaily does have a copious pro-conservative bias in common with Talon News, Kinsolving's questions are presented in a straight-from-the-briefing Q-and-A format -- and third, Kinsolving hasn't posed for any gay porn sites that we know of.
But Kinsolving's slanted softballs, mixed with Gannon's charade -- even as the ConWeb complains about the so-called liberal media -- provide a reason to re-examine the way the White House press corps does business, which it has announced it will do.
Softball questions aren't the only area where Gannon and the ConWeb are of like mind. Both NewsMax and WorldNetDaily have, like Gannon, have spun press releases from their favorite sources into things presented news stories, as ConWebWatch has detailed:
Is it any wonder that the ConWeb doesn't want to get into this particular can of worms? WND, NewsMax and CNSNews.com have yet to post an original news story or opinion piece about the Gannon controversy. One possible reason is that in October, WND was forced to retract an inaccurate story it got from Talon News. (WND did ever-so-briefly link to an outside AP article about Gannon's resignation.) Another reason could be that NewsMax is an advertiser on GOPUSA, Talon News' even-more-partisan sister site (currently advertising for people to take its worthless "Condi vs. Hillary" poll).
Only Accuracy in Media has bravely stepped forward to defend Gannon. "His crimes were that he was too pro-Republican, attended White House briefings, and asked questions unfair to Democrats," wrote Cliff Kincaid in a Feb. 10 column.
Kincaid complained that liberal bloggers went too far in "personally attacking Gannon" and digging up his gay-porn connections, or as Kincaid put it, "being linked to conduct, homosexuality, that is accepted and celebrated by those who were going after Gannon in the first place." Kincaid singled out Media Matters for America (full disclosure: my employer) for getting the ball rolling: "Ironically, the Media Matters group is run by former conservative and once-closeted homosexual David Brock."
But Media Matters was not involved in uncovering the revelations about Gannon's sex life (not to mention irrelevant to his being a conservative shill). And Kincaid's concern about Gannon being persecuted for his sexuality rings hollow since, in his quest to prove liberal media bias, he loves to repeat a claim that "three-quarters of the people deciding what's on the front page [of the New York Times] are not-so-closeted homosexuals."
And a Feb. 11 AIM press release about an alleged "liberal activist and associate of Ralph Nader ... obtaining access to White House press briefings while claiming to be a legitimate news reporter" attributes to Kincaid the claim that the Gannon controversy "was manufactured by left-wing bloggers and liberals in the media because they don't want conservatives in the White House press corps."
Ironically -- more so than Kincaid's claim about Media Matters -- the ConWeb's current focus on CNN's Eason Jordan allows it to ignore another controversy besides Gannon.
Conservative talking head Ann Coulter, when asked on the Feb. 7 edition of MSNBC's "Kudlow and Cramer" about Eason's claim that, in the words of host Lawrence Kudlow, "the U.S. military is deliberately targeting and assassinating American journalists," responded by saying: "Would that it were so!"
Yet we don't see WorldNetDaily rushing to cancel Coulter's column or NewsMax distancing themselves from Coulter over her history of advocating violence against journalists, and isn't encouraging the military to kill journalists at least as offensive as the suggestion that the military already was? Not to the ConWeb, apparently.
If the ConWeb can't work up any anger about that, why would they be bothered by exposure of the kind of lazy and biased journalism Gannon practiced when it does the exact same thing?