Introducing a discussion about former Talon News Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent Jeff Gannon (aka James D. Guckert) on the February 26 edition of FOX News Watch, host Eric Burns asked: "[W]hat is this story really about? ... I mean, he was a journalist."
But as Media Matters for America has repeatedly pointed out (here, here, here, and here), Gannon is not a journalist; he is a political activist who attended a $50, two-day seminar at the conservative Leadership Institute. Prior to his recent resignation, Gannon worked first for Republican political advocacy website GOPUSA.com and, starting around April 2003, began working for its new sister "news organization," Talon News.
The Standing Committee of Correspondents, which credentials Capitol Hill reporters, rejected Gannon's application for a Capitol Hill press pass in part because of Talon News' lack of independence from a political organization. As committee chairman Jim Drinkard wrote in his letter rejecting Gannon's application for credentials:
The application for accreditation to the press galleries states that "members of the press shall not engage in lobbying or paid advertising, publicity, promotion, work for any individual, political party, corporation, organization, or agency of the Federal Government." Talon News has not demonstrated to the satisfaction of the committee that there is a separation from GOPUSA/Millions of Americans.com.
From the February 26 edition of FOX News' FOX News Watch:
BURNS: Jane, what is this story really about? Is it about how anybody can get into the White House for a press conference? I mean, he was a journalist. Is it about his personal life? Could you explain it to me?
JANE HALL (assistant professor at American University's School of Communication): Well, I think the hypocrisy and the concern, you know, of -- there are a lot of different issues here. This was a guy who was called on a lot, as the group Media Matters, the liberal group, has pointed out. I mean, I just wonder whether a guy who was obviously phrasing left-wing questions, would have had a press credential for two years, you know, was funded by a GOP-related group, it's hard for me to imagine that this would have happened if the -- if the bias were on the other foot. So that's part of what's amusing about it to some people.
BURNS: Well, let me give you an example of one of those questions that he asked. He said to the president at one point, referring to Democrats, "How are you going to work with people who have divorced themselves from reality?" So he did give a clue, Jim, that he certainly wasn't an impartial journalist.