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His Aim Is False

Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid deceives and distorts to defend Jeff Gannon.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/28/2005
Updated 3/1/2005

In a Feb. 25 commentary, Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid continues to devise ways to give Jeff Gannon/James Guckert a pass.

As he did in a Feb. 10 commentary, Kincaid claims that Gannon is being persecuted because he's conservative. And again, he complains that "the group that started the campaign against Gannon is led by once-closeted homosexual and former conservative David Brock" despite the fact that Brock's group, Media Matters for America (full disclosure: my employer) was criticizing Gannon for his journalistic misdeeds long before anyone knew he was selling himself for sex on the Internet.

Related articles on ConWebWatch:

Retracting the Talon

Riders on the Clueless Train

Kincaid tries some new approaches this time. First, he lies about the incident that got Gannon all this attention -- his question to President Bush at a Jan. 26 press conference -- claiming that the "liberal-dominated" White House press corps "went ballistic when Gannon's pointed question to the President was picked up by Rush Limbaugh." In fact, Gannon's question was inspired by a false statement Limbaugh made about Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid "talking about soup lines." Limbaugh later bragged that Gannon's question was inspired by him, admitting that Reid "never said 'soup lines.'"

Next, Kincaid burnishes Gannon's journalistic credentials, comparing him to a "liberal crank" in the White House press corps who Kincaid claims "admitted to me he's never taken a journalism class in his life," while "Gannon actually passed through a journalism training program at the Leadership Institute." The Leadership Institute is a conservative group with copious conservative foundation support, and its "journalism training program" is a $50 two-day seminar is more about devising ways to sneak the conservative agenda into the media than journalism, given that its stated mission is to train "conservatives who want a career in journalism." The Leadership Institute's founder, Morton Blackwell, was last seen at the Republican National Convention trivializing military medals by handing out Band-Aids with a purple heart on them for some Swift Vet-like mocking of John Kerry's military service.

Kincaid's biggest problem, though, is that he insists that Gannon "was targeted because there are some in the left-wing blogging community who believe homosexuals can't be conservatives in good conscience," adding that "Gannon's sex life became fair game for the political left because he came down on the conservative side of the political spectrum."

It's very strange that Kincaid is defending Gannon -- even giving him the benefit of the doubt by claiming that he "who may or may not be homosexual" -- because he has previously disapproved of gays in journalism and pretty much everywhere else. A July 15, 2004, Kincaid column laments that "Big Media have adopted the gay rights cause as their own." AIM likes to repeat the claim, as Kincaid did in an August 2004 column, that "literally three-quarters of the people deciding what's on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals." In a June 2004 column, Kincaid is alarmed that a survey found that "an amazingly high 88 percent of national journalists accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle." A February 2004 "AIM Report" claims that "financial support from rich homosexuals" enabled then-presidential candidate Howard Dean "to organize the grass roots and spread his message." Another February 2003 column by Kincaid complained that the term "marriage" is "a term that the homosexuals want to use, in the same way they appropriated the term 'gay' for themselves. 'Gay' used to mean happy and carefree."

Kincaid's sudden sexual libertarianism extends to Gannon's alleged online sexcapades; he quotes a blogger who suggests a purity test for the white House press corps; "Ask if any reporter is a homosexual. Ask if any has ever exchanged sex for anything." Kincaid then laments that "sending out a questionnaire would not be the same as was done to Gannon."

And while Kincaid complained that "The Boston Phoenix, a counter-culture publication, has taken the anti-Gannon campaign to a new low" by repeating rumors of other Gannon affairs, AIM said virtually nothing about false allegations spreading in the media this time last year of rumors that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was involved in an extramarital affair; its only reference to the bogus story was in a guest column by Geoff Metcalf that blamed the victim by claiming that "several insiders" say that the story "has Chris Lehane (Democratic opposition research operative) written all over it."

(Update: Kincaid kept it up in a Feb. 28 column beating up on the folks at "Fox News Watch for ignoring the real issue in the Gannon case, which he insists is "why Gannon was singled out for savage scrutiny as a conservative journalist and why left-wing bloggers investigated his private life and harassed his family members in order to drive him out of those briefings and press conferences." Kincaid also repeats the claim about the Leadership Institute's $50 two-day indoctrination being a "journalism training program." He also claims that Gannon's lobbing of conservative softballs was no big deal: "Why wouldn't the White House want to support conservative-style journalism? Only the far left finds this repugnant.")

In his Feb. 25 column, Kincaid noted: "So much misinformation has been published about this case that it's difficult to know where to begin." Kincaid himself is doing his best to spread that misinformation.

* * *

Let's play a little Then and Now:

"Make no mistake, Jeff Gannon, or James Guckert, or whatever his name is, is no conservative. Anybody who publishes sexually explicit photos of himself on a website in hopes of making money as a hooker is no conservative."

-- David Thibault, commentary, Feb. 17

"My faith and my ideology are rock solid."

-- Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, in a statement
on his relaunched web site

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