Coulter lied and distorted to defend "Gannon," falsely attack Democrats and "liberal" media

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter presented a raft of lies and distortions to defend former Talon News Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent Jeff Gannon (aka James D. Guckert) from Democrats and the "liberal media." Among the accusations in Coulter's February 24 nationally syndicated column were that the "liberal media" resorted to probing Gannon's private life after failing to "get Gannon for incompetence on the job"; that former Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, former President Bill Clinton, and Senator John Kerry all ran for office under "invented names"; and that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd "openly lied" when writing about Gannon's White House press passes.

"Liberals keep rolling out a series of attacks on Gannon for their Two Minutes of Hate, but all their other charges against him fall apart after three seconds of scrutiny. Gannon's only offense is that he may be gay," Coulter wrote.

In a broadside against the "liberal media," Coulter falsely claimed that "they can't even get Gannon for incompetence on the job":

Liberals keep telling us the media isn't liberal, but in order to retaliate for the decimation of major news organizations like the New York Times, CBS News and CNN, all they can do is produce the scalp of an obscure writer for an unknown conservative Web page. And unlike [former New York Times executive editor Howell] Raines, [CBS News anchor Dan] Rather and [former CNN chief news executive Eason] Jordan, they can't even get Gannon for incompetence on the job.

In fact, Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances of Gannon's incompetence: He lifted large portions of White House and Republican materials verbatim for his "news reports"; he reported a baseless, thoroughly disproven rumor of an extramarital affair between Kerry and an unnamed woman; and he used a fabricated quotation attributed to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to ask a softball question of George W. Bush.

Coulter proceeded to attack congressional Democrats for "demand[ing] that an independent prosecutor investigate how Gannon got into the White House under an invented name" and conflated Guckert/Gannon's use of a pseudonym to the "invented names" of various Democratic presidential candidates, asking: "How did Gary Hartpence, Billy Blythe and John Kohn (Gary Hart, Bill Clinton and John Kerry) run for president under invented names?" The truth is that neither Hart nor Clinton "invented" their names, and Kerry's name was never Kohn.

Hart's parents changed the family's last name from Hartpence to Hart in the late 1950s because, Hart said, it had been their original family name. Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV after his deceased father, but in high school he assumed the last name of his stepfather, Roger Clinton, who had married his mother when Bill Clinton was 4 years old. The Associated Press reported on March 10, 1992, that Clinton's mother said that Roger Clinton loved Bill like a son. Kerry was born "John Forbes Kerry" and has never held the surname Kohn; his grandfather changed his name from Fritz Kohn to Frederick Kerry in 1901.

By contrast, James D. Guckert's name appears as such on his driver's license. He claims he uses "Jeff Gannon" because it is easier to spell and pronounce. He has provided no other reason for adopting the pseudonym.

Coulter also claimed that Dowd lied when the latter wrote in her February 17 column that "I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the 'Barberini Faun' is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?" Coulter insisted that Dowd "openly lied" by "talking about two different press passes without telling her readers." But regardless of what kind of pass Gannon used, the fact remains, as Dowd noted, that "[i]n an era when security concerns are paramount," Gannon "could saunter into the West Wing every day under an assumed name while he was doing full-frontal advertising for stud services for $1,200 a weekend."

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