Talon News "reporter" lifts from GOP documents verbatim for "news reports"

››› ››› JEREMY CLUCHEY

Talon News Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent Jeff Gannon, who accused his colleagues in the press corps of "work[ing] off of the talking points" provided by Democrats, has used Bush administration and Republican National Committee (RNC) documents and releases in his Talon "news reports" verbatim and without attribution. In at least two of his articles, Gannon lifted more than half of the text directly from GOP "fact sheets." Moreover, as Media Matters for America has pointed out, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh proclaimed that Gannon repeated a fabricated assertion of Limbaugh's in a question he asked of President Bush at a January 26 press conference.

From the January 27 edition of Jeff Gannon's Washington radio show on the conservative Internet radio website RIGHTALK:

GANNON: But what was very interesting, in his [Bush's] answer, was that -- that he's going to go to the American people. That was the first thing out of his mouth. That "Well, I'm going to take my case to the American people." Which told everybody in that room that not only was he not going to reach out to Democrats anymore, he was also going to go around the press corps, which, of course, deserves to be gone around because they're not telling the truth about Social Security reform. They continue to work off of the talking points provided them from the opposition. And I know that because I have seen some of my colleagues -- let's say one or two that I've actually witnessed -- read from DNC [Democratic National Committee] talking points on Social Security.

Following are three examples of Gannon lifting extensively from an RNC "Fact Sheet," a White House "Fact Sheet" and directly from President Bush in his "news reports."

On August 9, 2004, the RNC released a "Fact Sheet" titled "America's Ownership Society: Expanding Opportunities." On August 10, Talon News published an article by Gannon titled "Bush Pushes Ownership Society." Of the 866 words in Gannon's article, 466 -- 54 percent of the article -- were taken directly from the RNC talking points.

The relevant portions of both documents are displayed in the table below. The words, phrases, and passages that appear in both the RNC release and Gannon's article are in bold:

RNC "Fact Sheet," 8/9/04 Gannon article, 8/10/04
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which combine low-cost, high-deductible health insurance with tax-free savings accounts to pay for health care expenses. He is touting health savings accounts (HSAs) that combine low-cost, high-deductible health insurance with tax-free savings accounts to pay for health care expenses. The president has also proposed that insurance premiums associated with HSAs be tax deductible.
Association Health Plans (AHPs) to give America's working families greater access to affordable health insurance. By allowing small businesses to band together and negotiate on behalf of their employees and their families, AHPs would help small businesses and employees obtain health insurance at an affordable price, much like large employers and unions. Bush is also promoting greater access to association health plans. He says that by allowing small businesses to band together and negotiate on behalf of their employees and their families, AHPs would help small businesses and employees obtain health insurance at an affordable price, much like large employers and unions.
Strengthening Medicare. President Bush signed legislation in 2003 to establish a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. Under this plan, private health plans will compete for seniors' business by providing better coverage at affordable prices -- helping to control the costs of Medicare by using market-place competition, not government price-setting. And seniors will be able to choose the health care plan that best fits their needs -- instead of having that choice made by the government. The president also believes Medicare would be strengthened if private health plans would be able to compete for seniors' business by providing better coverage at affordable prices. This would help to control the costs of Medicare by using market-place competition, not government price-setting. And seniors would be able to choose the health care plan that best fits their needs instead of having that choice made by the government.
Expanding Homeownership. The President believes that homeownership is the cornerstone of America's vibrant communities and benefits individual families by building stability and long-term financial security. In June 2002, President Bush issued America's Homeownership Challenge to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to encourage them to join the effort to close the gap that exists between the homeownership rates of minorities and non-minorities. The President also announced the goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families before the end of the decade. Under his leadership, the overall U.S. homeownership rate in the second quarter of 2004 was at an all time high of 69.2 percent. Minority homeownership set a new record of 51 percent in the second quarter, up 0.2 percentage point from the first quarter and up 2.1 percentage points from a year ago. Bush believes that home ownership is the cornerstone of America's vibrant communities and benefits individual families by building stability and long-term financial security. In June 2002, President Bush issued America's Homeownership Challenge to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to encourage them to join the effort to close the gap that exists between the homeownership rates of minorities and non-minorities.

Increase [sic] the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families before the end of the decade. In the second quarter of 2004 overall U.S. homeownership rate was at an all time high of 69.2 percent. Minority homeownership set a new record of 51 percent in the second quarter, up 0.2 percentage point from the first quarter and up 2.1 percentage points from a year ago.

President Bush's initiative to dismantle the barriers to homeownership includes: American Dream Downpayment Initiative, which provides down payment assistance to approximately 40,000 low-income families; Bush established several initiatives to dismantle the barriers to homeownership that include a program that provides down payment assistance to approximately 40,000 low-income families
Affordable Housing. The President has proposed the Single-Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit, which would increase the supply of affordable homes; and a single-family affordable housing tax credit that would increase the supply of affordable homes.
Helping Families Help Themselves. The President has proposed increasing support for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program; and He has also proposed increasing support for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program
Simplifying Homebuying and Increasing Education. The President and HUD want to empower homebuyers by simplifying the home buying process so consumers can better understand and benefit from cost savings. and education that would empower homebuyers by simplifying the home buying process.
Entrepreneurial Spirit of America: Providing Tax Relief to American Families and Small Businesses. President Bush acted promptly to help America's workers by providing tax relief to put more money in families' pockets and encourage businesses to grow and invest. Tax relief brought substantial savings to families and helped fight back the effects of the recession. America's families and small businesses have more money to spend, save, and invest because of the President's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. This year, 111 million taxpayers will receive, on average, a tax cut of $1,586 and 25 million small business owners will receive $75 billion in total tax relief. Democrats contend that the Bush tax cuts have had a detrimental effect on the economy, but Bush says that his cuts were the right medicine for the ailing economy he inherited. He points out that tax relief helped America's workers but putting more money in families' pockets and encouraging businesses to grow and invest. America's families and small businesses have more money to spend, save, and invest because of the President's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. This year, 111 million taxpayers will receive, on average, a tax cut of $1,586 and 25 million small business owners will receive $75 billion in total tax relief.
President Bush has called on Congress to extend his tax relief plan set to expire next year. If Congress does not act, American families and businesses would see a tax increase starting next year, thereby hurting economic recovery and future job creation. Unless Congress takes action: Bush has called on Congress to extend his tax relief plan set to expire next year. He says that if Congress does not act, American families and businesses would see a tax increase starting next year and damage economic recovery and future job creation.
In 2006, the small business expensing limit will shrink from $100,000 to just $25,000, increasing the cost of capital investments for America's small businesses; Without reauthorization, the small business expensing limit will shrink from $100,000 to just $25,000, increasing the cost of capital investments for America's small businesses in 2006.
In 2009, the top tax rate on dividends will increase from 15 to 35 percent, while the tax on capital gains will climb from 15 to 20 percent, raising the tax burden on retirees and families investing for their future; and By 2009, the top tax rate on dividends will have increased from 15 to 35 percent, while the tax on capital gains will climb from 15 to 20 percent, raising the tax burden on retirees and families investing for their future.
In 2011, the tax rate relief, new 10-percent tax bracket, death tax repeal, marriage penalty relief, small business expensing, and all the remaining tax relief enacted over the past three years will sunset, resulting in tax increases for every individual American man or woman who pays income taxes. [...]

By 2011, the tax rate relief, new 10-percent tax bracket, death tax repeal, marriage penalty relief, small business expensing, and all the remaining tax relief enacted over the past three years will sunset, resulting in tax increases for every individual American man or woman who pays income taxes.

On August 16, 2004, the White House released a "Fact Sheet" titled "Making America More Secure By Transforming Our Military." On August 17, Talon published an article by Gannon titled "Bush Announces Major Force Redeployment." Again, much of Gannon's article was copied verbatim from the White House talking points, with several entire paragraphs apparently copied and pasted, the only modifications being occasional adjustments of verb tenses and pronouns. Out of the 808 words in Gannon's article, 420, or 52 percent, were copied from the White House "Fact Sheet." The relevant portions of both documents are displayed below, and duplicated phrases are in bold:

White House "Fact Sheet," 8/16/04 Gannon article, 8/17/04
President Bush today announced the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. military forces overseas since the end of the Korean War. President George W. Bush announced a major redeployment of troops Monday that he said would make America more secure by transforming the military. The plan is the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. military forces overseas since the end of the Korean War.
By closing bases no longer needed to meet Cold War threats that have ended, this new initiative will bring home many Cold War-era forces while deploying more flexible and rapidly deployable capabilities in strategic locations around the world. [...]

Officials believe that by closing bases no longer needed to meet Cold War threats that have ended, many Cold War-era forces can be brought home while deploying more flexible and rapidly deployable capabilities in strategic locations around the world.

Taking advantage of 21st century military technologies, the plan will increase U.S. military capabilities and combat power in every part of the world; improve our cooperation with, and our ability to defend, allies; and strengthen our ability to deter aggression -- all while reducing the number of U.S. forces stationed at overseas bases. The administration says that taking advantage of 21st century military technologies the plan will increase U.S. military capabilities and combat power in every part of the world.
[...]

Develop flexibility to contend with uncertainty. Global threats to our national security can defy prediction. Therefore, the United States will develop new and expanded security relationships to emphasize flexibility in force posture.

[...]

Flexibility is a key principle of the realignment. Global threats to national security can defy prediction, with non-state actors appearing in opportune locations. The U.S. will develop new and expanded security relationships to emphasize flexibility in force posture.

Provide for both a regional and global forward presence. The demands of new threats require forces deployed overseas to be ready for missions anywhere in the world, regardless of where the forces are based -- while we must be prepared to act regionally and locally and to maintain our commitments to NATO and other allies. Officials believe that the demands of new threats require forces deployed overseas to be ready for missions anywhere in the world, regardless of where the forces are based. The new plan provides for both a regional and global forward presence, recognizing that the U.S. must be prepared to act regionally and locally and to maintain its commitments to NATO and other allies.
Enable rapid power projection. Our overseas force realignment must improve rapid response capabilities for distant contingencies, because our forces will not likely fight where they are stationed. This requires an updated transport infrastructure to facilitate movement of forces, prepositioned equipment along transport routes, and lean command structures for deployable operations. The overseas force realignment would improve rapid response capabilities for distant contingencies, since forces would not likely fight where they are stationed. An updated transport infrastructure is required to facilitate movement of forces with prepositioned equipment along transport routes and lean command structures for deployable operations.
Focus on capabilities instead of numbers. Leveraging U.S. advantages in speed, reach, precision, knowledge, and combat power is now the defining concept for military action. The number of forward-based forces in a given area is no longer an accurate representation of the effective military capability that the U.S. can bring to bear. There is also a shift from sheer numbers to capabilities. Leveraging U.S. advantages in speed, reach, precision, knowledge, and combat power would now be the defining concept for military action. The number of forward-based forces in a given area would no longer be an accurate representation of the effective military capability that the U.S. could bring to bear.
Background

Our military global posture, developed to defend against Cold War adversaries, is not optimized to meet today's threats to our national security. Following World War II and the Korean War, our global posture focused on threats to specific regions and tailored our military presence to those regions. Our Cold War posture was established with the certainty that we knew our adversaries and where potential battles would be fought. But with the demise of the Soviet Union, once-familiar threats gave way to less predictable dangers. The lessons of the last 15 years teach us that we often send our forces to unpredictable places. The Cold War strategy of placing heavy forces in specific locations to defend against a known adversary needs to be changed to more effectively deal with today's threats.

The review of America's global military posture that was developed to defend against Cold War adversaries revealed that it is not optimized to meet present-day threats to national security. Following World War II and the Korean War, the global posture focused on threats to specific regions and tailored U.S. military presence to those regions. The Cold War posture was established with the certainty of where adversaries existed and potential battles would be fought.

The demise of the Soviet Union resulted in once-familiar threats giving way to less predictable dangers. The lessons of the last 15 years demonstrate that American forces are often sent to unpredictable places. The Cold War strategy of placing heavy forces in specific locations to defend against a known adversary is being changed to more effectively deal with modern threats.

It is no longer relevant to measure America's war-fighting capability by the number of troops and equipment in a particular country or region. During the 1990s, our military began a transformation from the industrial age to the information age. In this age, reach, stealth, precision, knowledge, and combat power, and not just the size of forces, allow us to dominate the battlespace. We learned that small, highly trained and networked units, platforms, and even individual warriors can have an effect on the battlefield that was previously reserved for much larger formations. Today, one high-tech ship or tank or aircraft can deliver the same combat power that once required ten ships or tanks or aircraft. It is no longer relevant to measure America's war-fighting capability by the number of troops and equipment in a particular country or region. During the 1990s, the military began a transformation from the industrial age to the information age. In this age, reach, stealth, precision, knowledge, and combat power, and not just the size of forces, allowed the U.S. to dominate the battlespace. Small, highly trained and networked units, platforms, and even individual warriors can have an effect on the battlefield that was previously reserved for much larger formations. Today, one high-tech ship or tank or aircraft can deliver the same combat power that once required ten ships or tanks or aircraft.

Complete passages from a December 8, 2003, speech given by President Bush at the signing of the Medicare Act of 2003 appeared in their entirety in Gannon's December 9, 2003, article titled "Bush Signs Historic Medicare Bill." Though much of the rest of the article consisted of direct quotations of Bush's speech, these passages -- including direct quotations -- were not attributed to Bush. Of the article's 841 total words, 223, or 27 percent, were taken verbatim from Bush's speech and not credited as such. Phrases that appear in both the speech and Gannon's article are in bold:

Bush Medicare Speech, 12/8/03 Gannon article, 12/9/03
Medicare today will pay for extended hospital stays for ulcer surgery. That's at a cost of about $28,000 per patient. Yet Medicare will not pay for the drugs that eliminate the cause of most ulcers, drugs that cost about $500 a year. It's a good thing that Medicare pays when seniors get sick. Now, you see, we're taking this a step further -- Medicare will pay for prescription drugs, so that fewer seniors will get sick in the first place. (Applause.) Bush cited an example that Medicare today will pay for extended hospital stays for ulcer surgery at a cost of about $28,000 per patient. Yet Medicare will not pay for the drugs that eliminate the cause of most ulcers, drugs that cost about $500 a year. Preventive drugs will now be available through Medicare to avoid the enormous costs of surgery.
Drug coverage under Medicare will allow seniors to replace more expensive surgeries and hospitalizations with less expensive prescription medicine. Additionally, drug coverage under Medicare will allow seniors to replace more expensive surgeries and hospitalizations with less expensive prescription medicine.
[...]

Seniors will start seeing help quickly. During the transition to the full prescription benefit, seniors will receive a drug discount card. This Medicare-approved card will deliver savings of 10 to 25 percent off the retail price of most medicines. Low-income seniors will receive the same savings, plus a $600 credit on their cards to help them pay for the medications they need.

Even though some of the legislation doesn't take effect until 2006, President Bush reassured seniors that they would start seeing help quickly. During the transition to the full prescription benefit, seniors will receive a drug discount card. This Medicare-approved card will deliver savings of 10 to 25 percent off the retail price of most medicines. Low-income seniors will receive the same savings, plus a $600 credit on their cards to help them pay for the medications they need.
In about two years, full prescription coverage under Medicare will begin. In return for a monthly premium of about $35, most seniors without any prescription drug coverage can now expect to see their current drug bills cut roughly in half. This new law will provide 95 percent coverage for out-of-pocket drug spending that exceeds $3,600 a year. For the first time, we're giving seniors peace of mind that they will not have to face unlimited expenses for their medicine. In about two years, full prescription coverage under Medicare will begin. In return for a monthly premium of about $35, most seniors without any prescription drug coverage can now expect to see their current drug bills cut roughly in half. This new law will provide 95 percent coverage for out-of-pocket drug spending that exceeds $3,600 a year.
The new law offers special help to one-third of older Americans will low incomes, such as a senior couple with low savings and an annual income of about $18,000 or less. These seniors will pay little or no premium for full drug coverage. Their deductible will be no higher than $50 per year, and their co-payment on each prescription will be as little as $1. The new law offers special help to one-third of older Americans with low incomes, such as a senior couple with low savings and an annual income of about $18,000 or less. These seniors will pay little or no premium for full drug coverage. Their deductible will be no higher than $50 per year, and their co-payment on each prescription will be as little as $1.

As Media Matters for America has noted, while Talon News purports to be a news organization, Talon editor in chief Bobby Eberle and his company have extensive ties to the Republican Party. On his personal website, Gannon identifies himself as "a conservative journalist embedded with the liberal Washington press corps" and "A Voice of the New Media."

Stories/Interests
Media Ethics
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.