The same people who rage about the "liberal media" and the "homosexual agenda" have managed in a few weeks to reveal the monumental extent of their hypocrisy. First, we learned that the Bushies were paying pundits Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus to promote their policies in the obviously not-so-liberal media. This followed revelations - thanks to bloggers - that the new head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, is gay. Ditto for the national field director, Daniel Gurley, and its chief financial officer, Jay Banning.
Now, the GOP (Gays' Own Party) has a new drama that weaves both threads together. You get your media scandal and you get your gay sex scandal - all inside George Bush's White House.
The story: James Guckert has been receiving daily permission for two years to cover press conferences at the White House. He had earlier been denied credentials to cover Congress because it was obvious that his employer, a little known website called TalonNews.com, was not an independent news organization. It is in reality a propaganda site run by a wealthy Texas Republican. In his stories for the site, Guckert, who didn't even use his real name, often reprinted lengthy sections of administration press releases without attribution.
Understand that admission to White House press conferences is so controlled that the New York Times' Maureen Dowd, who has been covering presidents for 20 years, was refused a pass in 2000. Understand, too, that the White House allowed Guckert to use a phony name, Jeff Gannon, even though it doesn't let married female reporters use their maiden names.
Guckert became famous for lobbing softball questions with obvious ideological bias at press meetings. In his latest, he asked Bush, speaking of Democrats: "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"
Curious bloggers began researching Talon News and "Gannon's" background, which turned out to include only one $50 weekend class in journalism run by Republican activists. Bloggers - and a few mainstream journalists - questioned why Guckert was not thoroughly vetted before gaining access to the White House only three days after he signed on with Talon. Other reporters had watched, annoyed but silent, as White House press secretary Scott McClellan regularly called on Guckert in order to intervene when the questioning got too rough. Meanwhile, Guckert appeared on conservative radio shows as a journalistic "expert" on the White House.
Nobody in the big, brave liberal media objected because, of course, Bush's people are famous for banishing uppity reporters like Dowd and Helen Thomas.
It has also emerged that Guckert may have played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent whose cover was blown by columnist Robert Novak. But the most fascinating (if arguably irrelevant) side of the story erupted early last week when AmericaBlog.org published pictures of Guckert. The naked pictures were taken from gay prostitution sites on the internet where he advertised sex for $1,200 per weekend. Guckert, a whore with a hypocritical heart, wrote several anti-gay screeds for Talon News, including one claiming that if Kerry was elected, America would have its first gay president.
By last Thursday, only a few newspapers had printed anything about the sexual side of the story. Editors all across America were probably wringing their hands and whining that they should not invade anyone's private life. Of course, they were all too happy to do exactly that in Bill Clinton's case, long before impeachment proceedings began. Few even bothered to comment that the Guckert affair is another example of the way Republicans try to spin reporting. If you think Guckert ended up in the White House daily for two years by a fluke, I'd like to show you some pics of George Bush performing sodomy with Dick Cheney.Does that not put to rest forever the characterization of the media as liberal? A press full of people willing to be bought by the administration and too cowardly to report a story like this until it's kicked in the ass by bloggers is hardly liberal. And even when it did report the news, it was largely done soft-shoe-style for the masters up in the big house. Wolf Blitzer's interview of Guckert on CNN was as inauthentically inquisitive as Guckert's own style.
And doesn't the story also expose the repulsive hypocrisy of Republicans regarding gay people? It is both the gayest and most gay-bashing White House in history. Gay men are good enough to run the Republican Party (and rumors are now flying that Scott McClellan himself has been a regular at gay bars in Texas). A gay prostitute can make an excellent journalistic prostitute on behalf of the White House. But gay people aren't good enough for marriage and, by terming marriage the foundation of society, Bush effectively argues - to the delight of fundamentalists - that homosexuality threatens to rend the very fabric of American life.
John Waters couldn't make a satirical movie this outrageous.
email@example.comCliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology.
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