Following Jeff Gannon's February 8 resignation as Talon News Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent, Talon News -- which appears to be more of a Republican political advocacy group than a media outlet -- removed all archived news stories from its website. Despite Gannon's claim that he is not "someone who takes a strong position and speaks in support of that issue," a Media Matters for America review of Gannon's catalogue of work for Talon (still available as cached documents via Google) showed that Gannon often used his news articles as a platform to defend the Bush administration and attack its opponents. *
"Kerry Could Become First Gay President"
In an October 12, 2004, article titled "Kerry Could Become First Gay President," Gannon claimed that because of his "support for the pro-gay agenda," Senator Kerry "might someday be known as 'the first gay president' were he to win the White House in November." Gannon was alluding to instances in which Bill Clinton was referred to as "the first black president" for the support and popularity he drew from the African-American community. Republicans attacked Kerry on the issue of gay marriage throughout the 2004 presidential campaign.
Swift Boat Vets focus on "Kerry's bitter legacy that haunts many Vietnam veterans"
Gannon readily embraced the discredited anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now Swift Vets and POWs for Truth), reporting the group's questionable allegations as fact. In an August 18, 2004, article, he wrote: "Kerry's broad accusations that portrayed American soldiers as 'baby killers' is part of the bitter legacy of the war hero turned antiwar activist. Many veterans that Kerry defamed have never forgiven him and have recently spoken up to oppose his election as commander in chief." In an August 20, 2004, article titled "Kerry Fires Back at Swifties, Claims Bush Behind Ads," Gannon reported a distortion repeatedly echoed by Republicans, that in Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony, Kerry "accus[ed]" American soldiers of "committing war crimes":
The group's leader John O'Neill's book, "Unfit for Command," will debut on the New York Times best-seller list at #3 this week and a new ad will begin to air on Friday. It is likely to focus on the testimony Kerry gave before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.
His testimony is part of Kerry's bitter legacy that haunts many Vietnam veterans. Kerry's accusations of American soldiers committing war crimes cast a stain on all who served. The dashing war hero turned antiwar activist gave a boost to the movement that undermined U.S. will to continue involvement in Southeast Asia and resulted in the communist takeover of Vietnam.
Gannon again repeated the allegation in an August 25, 2004, article, writing: "The latest ad being run by the 'Swifties' centers on Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 where he accused American soldiers of committing war crimes."
As Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, in his 1971 Senate testimony, Kerry simply related the testimony of other Vietnam veterans who came home and spoke about their personal experiences at the Winter Soldier Investigation hearing in Detroit earlier that year. Testifying in his capacity as spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, which organized the Winter Soldier hearing, Kerry focused blame on the leaders at that time -- not the soldiers -- for the atrocities they claimed to have committed or witnessed.
Media Matters has revealed that Gannon has lifted excerpts from Republican documents verbatim and without attribution for his "news reports," lobbed softball questions during White House press briefings and presidential press conferences, and repeatedly served as a "lifeline" for Scott McClellan. In Gannon's own words: "It's hard to say with Scott but he usually knows what he's going to get from me."
Put Abu Ghraib "in proper perspective"
Gannon downplayed the "alleged" abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in a May 11, 2004, article titled "Administration Pressed to Release Pictures from Saddam's Torture Chambers." In the article, Gannon acknowledged that it was actually Talon News that was pressing the administration to release the photos to "put the photographs from Abu Ghraib in proper perspective." According to Gannon:
Some Americans are angry about the overreaction of the "Arab street" and the politicization of the [Abu Ghraib] matter by Democrats. The White House press corps' demands for an apology from President Bush have been a particular source of annoyance to many since no apologies were issued after several American contractors were burned and hung from a bridge in Falluja last month. They contend that the prisoners that were photographed while naked will survive their ordeal, but many of Saddam's victims did not survive the torture chambers and will never be seen again.
Gannon himself had asked White House press secretary Scott McClellan to release the photos during the previous day's press briefing, and in doing so provided yet another "lifeline" to McClellan, who had faced a series of tough questions about the administration's accountability in the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.
Correction: Media Matters for America mistakenly attributed an article titled "Kerry's Alleged Intern Identified, Taped Interview With Major Television Network," to Jeff Gannon and linked to it (via the Google cache) as it appeared on TalonNews.com. The article was written by Talon News writer Jimmy Moore, not Gannon. The article was removed from TalonNews.com prior to this item's posting, and is no longer available via the Google cache, but is featured on other websites under Moore's byline. We regret the error.