Conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have cited Talon News, the online "news" organization that appears to be more of a Republican political advocacy group than a media outlet, and its former Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent, Jeff Gannon, as sources on their radio broadcasts.
In addition to citing both Talon News and Gannon on ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity has referred to Gannon as "a terrific Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Talon News," and according to a program summary on the website for San Francisco radio station KSFO, which carries Hannity's show, Gannon was a guest on the February 10, 2004, edition of the program. The program summary for that broadcast states: "Sean spends a moment with Jeff Gannon, Washington Bureau Chief for Talon News.com. Jeff talks about his daily meetings with White House Press Secretary Scott McCellan [sic]." Media Matters for America demonstrated that Gannon has served as a lifeline for White House press secretary Scott McClellan at press briefings and that Gannon copied GOP documents and releases verbatim and without attribution for use in his articles.
Here are three other instances in which Hannity cited Gannon or Talon News as a source on his radio show:
- HANNITY: He's [radio host Mike Webb] apparently a liberal talk show host known for his disdain of the president and the Bush administration. And a report says that he called for the death penalty for the president and the Secretary of State [sic: Defense] Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes. He apparently denied a report last week by Talon News, but the Internet site -- and said yesterday that they have a tape that proves that this host, Mike Webb, made the statements on the air. [The Sean Hannity Show, 5/27/04]
- HANNITY: And apparently they're also, according to Jeff Gannon, the -- Talon News -- this woman, Mary Mapes, this Dallas producer [involved in the controversy over memos about President Bush's National Guard service], is under pressure for the [CBS] network, and now there's doubts about their authenticity has taken place. Let me tell you what that means. That means everything's going downhill. And you watch. There's going to be somebody that has to take the fall here, and it's not going to be uh, it's not going to be [CBS anchor] Dan Rather. [The Sean Hannity Show, 9/17/04*]
- HANNITY: Now, Jeff Gannon, who is a terrific Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Talon News, actually shot me an e-mail today, and he's about to break a story in an exclusive about these CBS documents. [The Sean Hannity Show, 9/10/04]
On the September 23, 2004, edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Limbaugh cited Talon News as "our source" for a story about an email sent by progressive group MoveOn.org to its supporters linking the prevalence of hurricanes in Florida at the time to global warming and the Bush administration's environmental policies. The article, titled "MoveOn: Bush to Blame for 'Extreme' Hurricane Season," has been removed from the Talon News site (along with all other archived Talon "news reports" since the organization came under scrutiny) but is available here, in Google's cache. After citing Talon News, Limbaugh read excerpts of the article and concluded: "This is total BS. ... [I]f global warming were actually happening, there would be fewer hurricanes."
As Media Matters noted, Limbaugh bragged that a quote he fabricated had surfaced in a question Gannon asked of Bush at a January 26 White House press conference. Limbaugh said he was "flattered and honored and proud to have a point made by this program represented in the press conference and asked by a reporter." Limbaugh later falsely claimed that Gannon's question was "accurate."
Correction: This item originally said 9/7/04, the correct date is 9/17/04