Yet another ‘unbiased’ reporter

Michael McLaughlin

One would think the discovery of a “journalist” obtaining a highly coveted seat in the White House press room — from which he proceeded to lob nothing but constant softballs to administration officials — would be news. One would also think the revelation that said “journalist” was using a fake name, which the White House security staff must have known about, would be huge news. Yet the story of Jeff Gannon … err … James Guckert has almost been swept under the rug by the SCLM (So-Called Liberal Media).

Of course, politicians of all stripes have been cutting deals with members of the media since the media have existed, and if Mr. Gannon (as he himself wishes to be known) was simply part of one of these deals, it would be but a minor issue. However, a closer look into his background indicates this is much more serious than an occasional arrangement between the administration and a friendly reporter.

Gannon attended the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism, according to Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? However, this “school’s” curriculum consists of a $50, two-day class after which Gannon could, at least technically, claim that he graduated from journalism school. Columbia it isn’t. Hell, I probably had more training for the job.

Also, the school that Gannon attended is run by famous (by political nerd standards) conservative activist Morton Blackwell, who reported is known for passing out Band-Aids with purple hearts on them, a sickening mockery of Sen. Kerry’s service in Vietnam. Sounds like a real objective school now, right?

Gannon then began his work as bureau chief at Talon News Washington, which claims to be a source of “unbiased news coverage and no-spin reporting,” according to its former Web site. However, as is often the case with outlets that blare their nonpartisanship from the proverbial mountain top, Talon News is anything but. Instead, the organization is owned by Bobby Eberle who is also the owner of, whose political affiliation should be obvious. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when much of Talon’s reporting comes from the verbatim repetition of GOP talking points and the rest seemingly comes from fawning over said points.

By themselves, these ties do not make a conspiracy, and if the administration didn’t have a history of trying to manipulate the media, this story would have blown over by now, even within the blogs. However, this appears to be just the most bold-faced step in a consistent campaign of misinformation in which columnist’s opinions are paid for (as with Armstrong Williams) and fake “news reports” are produced by the administration (as with the 2002 Medicare debate, as reported by the Washington Post).

I suppose it isn’t good enough that the GOP has the media eating out of their hands. If this had occurred in a Democratic administration, we would never hear the end of the media’s complaints.

My side has the nasty habit of claiming that Bush emulates Big Brother in 1984. While I usually scoff at that view, occurrences such as these sometimes make me wonder about whether Bush sees Orwell’s seminal work as a distopia or as a how-to guide.

If the latter is the case, he’s been learning well.

Mike McLaughlin is a senior history major, secretary of the College Democrats and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].