The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Guckert and the Press Corpse

Watchdog Media Watch

You may or may not be hearing about a (for now) small scandal concerning the White House press corps. What happened, in a nutshell, is that a GOP party operative and pornographer with no press credentials and no journalism background except four days working for a website was given access to CIA documents (probably those outing Valerie Plame as an undercover agent) with the White House’s blessing. He also has had the chance to sit in on press conferences for two years and pitch softball questions to Scotty McClellan when the latter was being questioned too closely. He also probably has a role in the “Rathergate” passing of forged (but true) documents to CBS. His connection with that piece of Rovian ratf*cking has yet to be established. The subject in question is James Guckert, AKA Jeff Gannon.

If this is all true, and we had an actual press corps, instead of a press corpse, we might expect them to mightily ticked off. After all, a gig as a White House correspondent is pretty much the pinnacle of news journalists’ careers. Most of those people in that room have earned their right to be there. Yet, planted in their midst is a GOP operative, acting like one of them, and feeding softball questions to the Mouth of Sauron. (Gannon was even allowed to ask a question to Bush at his last press conference). Why aren’t the media outraged about this? Could it be that they all feel like they are doing the same as Gannon, shilling for this administration?

Two very excellent spots on this have appeared so far on cable news. The first was on Aaron Brown’s show, which featured two online writers. One, from the excellent Americablog was especially on point and focused on delving into the implications of these revelations. Another really good spot was on Keith Olbermann’s show, in which Keith and Dana Milbank discuss the issue. This second link also contains a montage of sychophantic, butt-kissing questions that “Gannon” has posed, so you can hear them yourself.

What else stinks about this? It’s one more example of how news journalism in this country has failed to mean anything. It’s all show, no substance. Why doesn’t the White House hold press conferences in front of a room completely full of handpicked shills? Because they don’t have to.

“Gannon” worked for a website called Talon News Service, which was also owned by the website (they have adjacent IP addresses, and So, to the extent that “” is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rove and company, so was Gannon.

For more information, please see this essay by Will Pitt. Here’s an excerpt:

"Gannon" wasn't just some gomer who got a day pass. He had serious access, as displayed by his knowledge of a CIA memo that no one else had ever heard of or seen. He bragged publicly about playing a key role in an act of treason perpetrated by members of this administration, something he would not have been able to do had he not had friends inside the Bush White House. Scott McLellan claims to not know him. I, for one, think that is a bald-faced lie.

This is journalism today, and "Gannon" isn't alone in disgrace. Conservative columnist Armstrong Williams got paid more than a quarter of a million dollars by the Bush administration to peddle No Child Left Behind. Conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher got $21,500 to peddle Bush's ideas on marriage. Conservative columnist Mike McManus got $10,000 to pitch the same policy as Gallagher.

This particular administration can't sell its policy initiatives on the merits, but has to pay journalists to pimp them by proxy. As bad as that is, it is far worse to know that there are journalists out there who would willingly play that role. Most of them don't even have to get paid to preach the party line. The aforementioned careerism, and the simple fact that a lot of 'reporters' these days are little more than vapid, blow-dried spokesmodels trying to get famous, is enough to get too many of them to roll over and sing for their supper.

Wolf Blitzer and Howard Kurtz got ten minutes of television time with a guy who was involved in blowing the cover of a CIA operative tasked to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists, and the best they could do was to let him talk about how sad he is that all these bad people are after him. That pretty much says it all. The combination of careerism, an absence of journalistic standards, and the notorious allergy the mainstream media has when it comes to self-critique, has proven to be a poisonous cocktail.

Outrage Overload Watch

This corrupt administration really has reached critical mass lately, to the point where it is almost physically impossible to keep up with, to keep track of, all of the stories of their corruption and incompetence. We have GOP propaganda paid for with taxpayers’ money. War plans for Iran forming. Trade deficits with China going way up. Bush’s outrageous budget proposal. We’ve learned with no doubts that Enron was definitely behind the California energy crisis. Nukes are proliferating all over the Korean peninsula. Delay operatives are appointed to head the ethics committee to oversee Delay’s ethics violations. Torture continues in our gulags. Rice is making huge, arrogant diplomatic blunders in Europe. Newly declassified documents show that Richard Clarke did indeed brief Rice about Al Qaeda, just as he said and which she denied. And the delay of a scathing 9/11 report (suspiciously released AFTER the election) shows that the FAA’s internal intelligence reports cited warnings about Al Qaeda and Bin Laden 52 times between April and September 11th, constituting half of the FAA reports during that time. This same release of information shows that on the morning of 9/11, as soon as the airliners’ transponders were turned off, NORAD was on the phone with the FAA begging them to authorize fighter intercepts of the airliners, but Benedict Sliney, who although he had almost 40 years experience in air traffic control, was at his very first day as the FAA operations manager, wasted time until it was too late. Even though there had been an average of about 10 such intercepts per month in the years prior to 9/11, the terrorists were “lucky” enough to try their plan on a day when the new FAA operations manager would be “confused” about his ability to authorize such intercepts. Those lucky terrorists.

What does it all mean? Is this the Bushies plans, to overwhelm us with scandal? Weird.

Shafting the Poor Watch

And just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse, Congress is again pushing for a “bankruptcy reform law” which will essentially make it illegal for people to declare bankruptcy. No word on where the new debtor’s prisons will be built. When the housing bubble bursts and this economy is still in the toilet, and those second and third mortgages and credit cards come due, it is good to know that debt will now have to follow our citizens like the plague for the rest of their life, and be passed on to their children. Personally, I think people should try to manage their debt, not get themselves in over their heads . . . but on the other hand, perhaps credit agencies should manage their risk a little better, too? Just a thought.

“What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Watch

(No, this has nothing to do with Dan Rather.) In the floridly titled “The Emperor’s New Hump”, FAIR details that the New York Times had investigated the Shrubbery’s “bulge” under his jacket at the first debate, but spiked the story, presumably because they do whatever they are told by the White House. The Times confirmed that it spiked the story. It’s great how our media works these days, isn’t it?


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