Pseudonyms include: JD, Bulldog, Lou, The Conservative Guy, USMCPT@aol.com, James Dale Guckert, James Daniel Guckert, J. Daniels, Jeff Daniels, Jeff Gannon
Nicknames include: “Chip Rightwingenstein of the Bush Agenda Gazette,” courtesy of Jon Stewart.
Moral apex: It’s a tie between posing as a legitimate journalist, and pretending he didn’t own, operate, and/or advertise his sex-for-hire “services” on gay-porn Web sites.
The Reader’s Digest Condensed version:
Military fetishist James Guckert, who reinvented himself as Jeff Gannon, went to work for a right-wing pretend-news organization called Talon News. It was a “pretend-news organization” because it was only a Web site, and the “organization” appears to have consisted of exactly two people, including Guckert. Vanity Fair generously called it “little more than a collection of amateurs and true believers posting a hodgepodge of right-wing ‘news’ items.”
Guckert managed to wrangle a press pass to the White House, where he lobbed numbingly partisan softball questions at George W. Bush‘s vacant-eyed press lackey, Scott McClellan. The Boy King, too, liked him well enough to call on Guckert by name (“Jeff,” not “Jim”), and rub his bald head (which is a well-known fetish of Georgie’s).
And somebody may have liked Guckert enough to give him a classified CIA memo outing CIA agent Valerie Plame. In fact, it was Gannon’s own interview with Joseph Wilson in which Guckert himself insinuated that he had been privy to “an internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel”; then, seemingly unable to stop himself, kept bragging about unfettered access to said memo.
“The truth will set you free!” Guckert wrote on July 10, 2004, in one of many posts to FreeRepublic.com. “I point you to the WashPo story from Dec 26, 2003 that says the CIA is upset with me for talking about a document they say is a forgery (when they are not denying that it exists) that details EXACTLY what the Senate Intel Committee says.”
(As a result, Guckert was subpoenaed by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to testify before the grand jury in the Plame leak case… which Guckert denied ever happened.)
When Anderson Cooper suggested that Guckert himself implied that he had seen such a memo, Guckert replied, “I didn’t do that at all. I didn’t do that at all. If you read the question, and I provided — my article was actually a transcript of my conversation with Ambassador Wilson — I made reference to a memo.”
When asked how he knew about the memo in the first place, Guckert said he had read about it in the Wall Street Journal.
Initially, however, it was his most shamelessly partisan question to Bush, referring to Democrats — “How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?” — that really started the blogosphere on the trail of this obvious right-wing plant. A particularly intrepid hive of DailyKos posters (led by Susan Gardner) pooled their resources and broke the story that Jimmy-Jeff Guckert-Gannon wasn’t all he appeared to be.
In fact, he wasn’t anything he appeared to be.
“Prompted,” read a February 10, 2005, DailyKos press release, “by a Jan. 26 report by MediaMatters.org regarding Guckert’s ‘softball’ questions to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and President Bush, members of DailyKos, an online community, began investigating the matter.”
That report read in part:
Although Gannon is a regular at White House press briefings and Talon News claims to be a news organization, Talon appears to be little more than an arm of the Republican Party. Talon News’ editor in chief, Bobby Eberle, is a Republican activist who served as a delegate to the 1996, 1998, and 2000 Texas Republican Conventions and to the 2000 national Republican Convention. In 1999, Eberle “was recognized with a unanimously approved resolution of commendation by the Republican Party of Texas for service and dedication to the Republican cause.” His biography on Talon’s website notes: “Bobby has devoted considerable time and energy to the Republican effort” and “Bobby is a member of Texas Christian Coalition and Texas Right to Life.”
Eberle is also the president and CEO of GOPUSA.com, a “conservative news, information, and design company dedicated to promoting conservative ideals” that carries articles and commentary by Gannon and Talon News. GOPUSA is also affiliated with MillionsofAmericans.com, a conservative advocacy organization run by Bruce Eberle, a relative of Bobby Eberle and a conservative fundraising consultant. Gannon’s articles for Talon News frequently appear on GOPUSA.com. Bruce Eberle and his company have made extensive financial contributions to Republican Party candidates and committees.
In other words, “Talon News” was nothing more than a front for GOPUSA.com.
“The information discovered by this investigation,” added the DailyKos release, “was in the public domain, readily available to anyone with internet access. Much of the information was derived from Guckert’s own sites which he published himself on the internet, or from comments he himself posted on various sites.”
It certainly was.
On January 28, 2005, at the same time Atrios broke the news that “Jeff Gannon” was a pseudonym, the blogosphere suddenly exploded with an intensive, collective investigation into Guckert’s background.
Guckert abruptly quit Talon News on February 8, 2005, stating that he hoped his resignation would end some vague, unspecified “threats” to his family. Web sites that had published his articles (more than a few of which were composed of chunks of Republican Party press releases) quickly scrubbed all traces of Guckert’s existence; Guckert shut down his own site, and Talon News itself soon disappeared from the Web.
Yet while the bloggers’ real goal — exposing Guckert as just another ringer in a growing line of paid Republican shills pretending to be journalists — was accomplished, the most damaging information came in an altogether different form of “exposure.”
John Aravosis — longtime equal-rights activist and auteur of AMERICAblog.com, StopDrLaura.com, DontAmend.com, and DearMary.com — who has an impressive track record of outing hypocritical, anti-gay closet cases on the Right, picked up the Guckert story and ran with it. Digging deep into the seamy underworld of prostie porn sites, Aravosis “dug out” what CNN’s Howard Kurtz would later call “the naked truth about Jeff Gannon”: dozens of X-rated pictures of “Jeff Gannon” on Web sites Guckert either owned, operated, or used to advertise his “services,” such as USMCPT.com (“PT” for “part time,” as Guckert told his Web designer), MilitaryStud.com, MaleCorps.com, MeetLocalMen.com, HotMilitaryStud.com, MilitaryEscorts.com, Guys4Rent.com, WorkingBoys.net, et. al., as well as a profile for Jimmy-Jeff’s America Online alter ago, USMCPT@aol.com.
“There’s been so much about me on the Internet that people have, you know, made assumptions about,” Guckert told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on February 10th, in an attempt to deny his involvement with any “sexually explicit” Web sites. “And I just can’t — I don’t even know them all and I can’t address them all here.”
The following day, Guckert reiterated to Editor & Publisher magazine: “They [the Web sites] were done through a private company. I was involved with doing Web site development about five years ago. The sites were never hosted, and nothing was ever posted to the sites.”
It was a blatant lie, and the dodgiest of deflections; if Guckert never displayed his manhood in all its erect glory on his own domains, he certainly peddled his wares all over the rest of the Web. And Aravosis had the pictures to prove it.
But he had displayed himself on at least one of the sites he owned — or, rather, he had somebody do it for him: In 1999, he paid California Web designer Paul Leddy $200 to build the site which eventually became USMCPT.com, using nude pictures (all in provocative positions, and several that can only be described as scatalogical in nature) Guckert provided of himself. (The site was launched in late 1999, and, not surprisingly, suddenly vanished after the scandal broke.)
After the Aravosis report came out, noted the Washington Blade, two sources confirmed…
…that Guckert attended a December 1998 Christmas party near Leesburg, Va., that “always turns into an orgy toward the end.”
The party was described as being predominantly for gay men, though not exclusively. The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that about 25 people attended. The sources provided to the Blade two photos from that party of a man who appears to be Guckert. In one image which the Blade has decided not to publish, the man poses with his arm around another man and his penis is exposed.
Guckert responded to inquiries for this article, but declined to comment. He has not commented publicly about his sexual orientation.
“There are people out there who will turn people’s lives inside out,” Guckert whined to the Delaware New Journal. “They tried to intimidate me, punish me. Then they tried to embarrass me, and they’ve done a pretty good job of that.”
“We put up the pictures,” John Aravosis told CNN’s Howard Kurtz, “because the issue really wasn’t whether Jeff Gannon had been working with escort services. The issue was how Jeff Gannon, what we would consider a fake journalist with fake credentials, got into the White House to report fake news.
“And the issue of whether he was an escort came to the larger issue of who was this guy and how could he get regular access to the White House for two years, access to the president, and reportedly, according to him, access to classified information regarding Valerie Plame.”
After listening to an attack by a right-wing blogger who called Aravosis’ actions “an absolute outrage” and “pure, flat out gay-baiting,” Aravosis responded:
“[A]s a gay man who’s been working on gay issues for years, I wish there were more people on the right who claimed to care about gay issues.
“But we have an administration here that goes out of its way to bash gays, whether it’s the marriage amendment or what. And then we’ve got a writer like Jeff Guckert … who writes anti-gay articles and then wants the protection of saying, ‘Oh, I’m a gay man.’
“The bottom line is we had a hooker in the White House talking to the president two weeks ago, and if that president’s name was Bill Clinton, it would be people like [the right-wing blogger] and others who rightfully would say, ‘What’s this guy doing there?’”
Gannon’s Greatest Hits:
Some of Gannon’s greatest hits, as featured in a video montage on [Keith] Olberman’s show last night:
May 10, 2004: “Q In your denunciations of the Abu Ghraib photos, you’ve used words like ‘sickening,’ ‘disgusting’ and ‘reprehensible.’ Will you have any adjectives left to adequately describe the pictures from Saddam’s rape rooms and torture chambers? And will Americans ever see those images?
“MR. McCLELLAN: I’m glad you brought that up, Jeff, because the President talks about that often.”
July 15, 2004: “Q Last Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that shows that Ambassador Joe Wilson lied when he said his wife didn’t put him up for the mission to Niger. The British inquiry into their own prewar intelligence yesterday concluded that the President’s 16 words were ‘well-founded.’ Doesn’t Joe Wilson owe the President and America an apology for his deception and his own intelligence failure?”
April 1, 2004: “Q I’d like to comment on the angry mob that surrounded Karl Rove’s house on Sunday. They chanted and pounded on the windows until the D.C. police and Secret Service were called in. The protest was organized by the National People’s Action Coalition, whose members receive taxpayer funds, as well as financial support from groups including Theresa Heinz Kerry’s Tides Foundation.
“MR. McCLELLAN: I would just say that, one, we appreciate and understand concerns that people may have. I would certainly hope that people would respect the families of White House staff.”
Feb. 10, 2004: “Q Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America’s racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else’s medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?”
— Dan Froomkin
Scandal in the Press Corps
February 10, 2005
This issue is important from an ethical as well as from a national security standpoint. It is hard to understand why a man with little real journalism experience was given a White House press corps credential let alone access to sensitive security documents. In fact, it only raises questions as to the nature of the relationship between “Jeff Gannon” and the White House, and whether there was an alliance of interests that did not conform to ethical and security standards.
— House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
on the Plame memo handover to Guckert
GOPUSA, while spouting the usual GOP talking points, has on occasion taken it a bit too far. In November of 2003 it posted an anti-semetic piece entitled “Satan Lives in George Soros” by a pseudonymous author known as “Sartre.” Yes, folks, these are the kind of “agencies” that are getting White House reporter credentials these days.
Plame Leaked by Fake News Source? Overview: Part IV
DailyKos, January 30, 2005
[E]vidence shows that “Mr. Gannon” is a Republican political operative, uses a false name, has phony or questionable journalistic credentials, is known for plagiarizing much of the “news” he reports, and according to several web reports, may have ties to the promotion of the prostitution of military personnel. …
In fact, it appears that “Mr. Gannon’s” presence in the White House press corps was merely as a tool of propaganda for your Administration.
— Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.-28)
Ranking Member, Committee on Rules
Letter to George W. Bush, February 8, 2005
He actually had two jobs — one obviously was sleazy and shameful, and the other was a gay male prostitute. …
I think I know what Bush meant now when he said he has a mandate.
— Bill Maher
If I talk to Jeff about a lot of gay issues, he freaks — he can’t go there. Jeff never stood in front of the mirror, he doesn’t think he’s part of the gay community, and he doesn’t think what he’s done affects the gay community. The guy at the end of American Beauty — that’s Jeff. He can’t come to terms with who he is.
— Unnamed friend of Guckert’s, discussing
Guckert’s conflicted sexuality with Vanity Fair
As always, more power to you if you have an AOL profile that’s really sexy and looks, well, kind of gay. But don’t go sucking up to the family values crowd and writing stories defending Santorum’s dog-sex comments, then expect people to give you a pass on whether you meet the standards of the very family values your buddies are promoting.
— John Aravosis
This is the AOL profile everyone is talking about
AMERICAblog.com, February 9, 2005
Why should we care about Jeff Gannon?
A potential male prostitute gets White House credentials using a fake name, provides McClellan a welcome ideological lifeline during press conferences, and somehow gets access to classified CIA documents that outs an undercover CIA operative.
— Markos Moulitsas
The bottom line
DailyKos, February 9, 2005
Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief?
It’s hard to believe the White House could hit rock bottom on credibility again, but it has, in a bizarre maelstrom that plays like a dark comedy. How does it credential a man with a double life and a secret past?
— Maureen Dowd
Bush’s Barberini Faun
New York Times, February 17, 2005
Most surprising observation nobody noticed: On February 18, 2004, nearly a year before the Guckert story broke wide open, a little-known — and short-lived (with exactly three entries in the course of its single year in existence) — blog called WebDems posted this:
Would you be surprised to learn that (as White House reporters are browbeaten daily) a seat in the fourth row of the WH briefing room is occupied by a volunteer for a rinky-dink right-wing “news service” whose reporters include a personal trainer, a scout camp director, an aerospace employee, and a high-school student? This volunteer, credentialed by the White House, is a denizen of the barely credible web forum freerepublic.com. Read down; this gets worse. …
The Talon reporter assigned to cover the White House is Jeff Gannon, whose product from this plum position is a one-minute daily webcast on Talon’s site and a weekly broadcast over the radiofreerepublic.com network. Freerepublic.com is the faded home-base of the Clinton haters; a message board where some dirty tricks against liberals are hatched (the recent bogus photo of Kerry and Fonda originated there) and a whole lot of blind Bush-kissing continues. Freerepublic’s shrill, extremist rallies in Washington attract only a handful of people.
Talon News Service is obviously a silly and kooky wannabe outfit. And yet a precious seat in the fourth row of the White House briefing room is Gannon’s. He boasts on freerepublic about asking questions designed to elicit “gasps” from the real correspondents.
How and why did Talon gain permission to access White House briefings while the same White House threatened denial of access to correspondents from media giants NBC and CNN and The Washington Post? And doesn’t Talon’s inclusion cement the critical need for reporters to be credentialed through peer review?
Bulldog’s Ballsiest Bullshit:
Isn’t it amazing? There has not been one single person to step forward and say, ‘Oh, yes, I know him! On such and such a date, I did this!’ Not a single person has come forward.
— Guckert to Vanity Fair in 2005, implying “that he
never actually worked as an escort, despite the
fact that he advertised himself as one.”
Did he live up to his physical description?: Yes
Did he live up to what he promised?: Yes
. . .
Top, Bottom, Versatile?: Top
In Calls / Out Calls / Not Sure: out only
Does He Kiss?: No
I hired Jeff last winter when I was in Philadelphia on business. I was so pleased with the experience that I recently had him travel with me on a weekend trip to North Carolina. I am an active duty senior officer in the US Army. Discretion is of utmost importance to me. Jeff understands that because of his Marine background. He has so many talents besides the bedroom, it was a great experience for me. He is all-man, athletic and self-assured. … The sex was great, he’s a hard core top, verbal and strong, never romantic, but not mean. … Being military also, we had much in common. I feel completely at ease that my secret is safe with him.
— Review of “Bulldog – DC”
July 11, 2000
Rates-Time Only: $200 hour
Did he live up to his physical description?: Yes
Did he live up to what he promised?: Yes
. . .
Top, Bottom, Versatile?: 100% Top
In Calls / Out Calls / Not Sure: Out Call with me
Contacted Bulldog 2 days before and got a short but positive reply. Further e-mails were short and to the point. He provided a pager number to use once I arrived at my hotel. A quick call to confirm got a quick response. He showed up exactly on time in jeans and a USMC sweatshirt. We relaxed briefly over a beer after he suggested a “get acquainted time” since he was there for me and had no reason to hurry or be on the clock. We both felt more relaxed as the clothes came off. Man oh man does this guy know how to take charge and take care of a horny bottom. …
[explicit description dedacted by LavLib]
— Review of “Bulldog – DC”
November 12, 2002
• Guckert is a freeper.
• Guckert’s online military-stud persona is nothing more than a fetish; while he claimed to have served in the U.S. Marine Corps, he never did.
• He also lied about his age; he was already in his 40s when he advertised his stud service, listing his age as 31.
• Another, albeit non-titillating, tidbit that came out about Guckert is that, as of mid-2005, he owed the state of Delaware some $20,700 in back income taxes for the years 1991 through 1994.
• Guckert has repeatedly denied that he ever wrote anything “anti-gay.” Guess it depends on your definition of “anti-gay” — but we think that catering to the Radical Right’s homophobia with a screed against the Kerry-Edwards “support for an extensive pro-homosexual platform,” in a piece titled “Kerry Could Become First Gay President,” fits the bill.
• The kaput Talon News domain, talonnews.com, now redirects visitors to an online pharmaceutical site pushing Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and other impotence remedies on its home page.
• The wildest story we’ve ever heard about Guckert is the heavy-duty conspiracy theory that he is actually Johnny Gosch, an Iowa paperboy who was supposedly kidnapped and pressed into service as a child sex slave. The whole story is in our writeup about the Franklin Credit Union Child-Sex Ring Scandal.
Becoming Jeff Gannon
Michael Dietz, AlterNet, April 22, 2005
Jeff Gannon’s Public Blogging
David Margolick and Richard Gooding, Vanity Fair
“Go ahead, Jeff”: Talon News “reporter” Jeff Gannon is McClellan’s lifeline during briefings
MediaMatters, February 2, 2005
Sex, Lies, and Jeff Gannon: The unmaking of a media whore
Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com, February 18, 2005
‘Jeff Gannon’ and L’Affaire Plame: Summary of CIA leak
DailyKos, February 9, 2005
Suggested Bible reading for Mr. Guckert:
And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.
— Leviticus 20:4-6
For reasons no one has ever been able to discern, in May of 2005, Pittsburgh (PA) WTAE news anchor Scott Baker made an entry on the Huffington Post, “‘I’m the Guy Who Taught Jeff Gannon Everything He Knows About Journalism.”
He essentially outed himself as — summarized nicely by Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News — “a conservative mole in the mainstream media … actively helping a Karl Rove acolyte to train new right-wing journalists, and that one of his ‘star pupils’ is none other than the notorious ‘Jeff Gannon,’ the gay-hooker-turned-bogus-pro-GOP journalist.”
Baker shot back that Bunch’s conclusion was a lie (his HuffPo piece was supposed to be “humorous”), and WTAE news director Bob Longo defended his star.
“But,” opined Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “what made Bunch’s accusations newsworthy was that they raised legitimate questions about the appearance of impropriety,” or at least “political partisanship.”
Why Baker would want to associate himself with Guckert at the height of the “Jeff Gannon” scandal is anybody’s guess, but the reason seems to be sheer ego.
“In the end,” wrote Owen, “Baker created this tempest because he was unable to contain himself. This should come as no surprise to viewers who are accustomed to his frequent interjections in Channel 4′s 5 p.m. news. … In the case of the blog post, his intentionally provocative subject line was just more of the same.”
Then, one year later:
WTAE-TV has shuffled its weekday news anchor lineup, ending a 13-year relationship with anchor Scott Baker, promoting Wendy Bell and moving sports director Andrew Stockey to the morning news desk.
The changes to the Channel 4 Action News team will become effective Monday, but
it appears Baker has already left the station.
Baker had no comment yesterday, and news director Bob Longo said he could not comment on personnel matters, saying only that Baker is “no longer going to be an anchor with the station.” Baker’s bio has already been removed from the station’s Web site. …
— Timothy McNulty
WTAE shakes up anchor desk
June 6, 2006
We don’t know why Baker was really sacked. We surmise that it had something to do with Baker’s insufferable ego combined with his inability to hide the fact that he really is a conservative mole.
How can we say that? Baker teaches at Morton C. Blackwell‘s Leadership Institute, whose mission “is to identify, recruit, train, and place conservatives in politics, government, and media.”
“Excellent presentations on the Internet and its potential to advance conservative politics,” gushes a testimonial for one LI program called Internet Activist School. “It is a program for conservative victory via the Internet!”