Saturday, February 05, 2005

President Bush, Jeff Gannon, and Ethics

I hope you have RealPlayer installed. Open up real player, go to file->open, and enter the following URL: rtsp:// Advance the player to the 34 minute, 43 second mark.

Last week, I wrote about the breaking Jeff Gannon story. This is a man without media credentials, save a $50, two day course from the Leadership Institute. A man who has no business in the Whitehouse Press Corps. A planted shill.

Now check out this video clip from the Bush Press Conference from January, shortly after Payola-Gate started breaking. The segment begins with three straight questions on Payola-Gate:

"Mr. President, do you think it's a proper use of government funds to pay commentators to promote your policies? Are you ordering an end to that practice?"
Bush: There needs to be an indepedent relationship between the Whitehouse and the press...We will not being commentators to advance our opinion"

After three straight negative questions, Bush begins feeling the heat, and decides to change the flow of the press conference, by calling on his favorite shill, Jeff Gannon:

Thank you. Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid [D-NV] was talking about soup lines. And [Senator] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you've said you are going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

Does this sound like a good example of hard-nosed investigative journalism? Is there a better example of hypocrisy than this -- President Bush just answered three straight questions on the shaky relationship between the Whitehouse and the press, and then had the audacity to go straight to his planted shill. I could be reaching, but this almost had the feeling of a pre-written question - with the response, Bush went on a three minute response, digressing from social security to economic policy and finally, to many unrelated government reform policies.

I believe is was Janeane Garafolo of the Majority Report who put it like this: Jeff Gannon does not ask softball questions -- these are tee-ball questions -- he sets them right up for the president and Whitehouse spokesman Scott McClellan.

This is a man who quotes word-for-word directly from Whitehouse Press Releases in his news reports. Here is some more tee-ball zingers from Gannon:

  • Scott, when you talk about the unemployment -- or the jobs being created, is that based on the payroll survey, or the household survey? Because there's -- because of the tax cuts, there's been a tremendous increase in the number of entrepreneurs that have started their own businesses, and those numbers aren't reflected in the payroll survey.
  • "Thank you. First of all, I hope the grand jury didn't force you to turn over the wedding card I sent to you and your wife. (Laughter.) Do you see any hypocrisy in the controversy about the President's mention of 9/11 in his ads, when Democratic icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt's campaign issued this button, that says, 'Remember Pearl Harbor'? I have a visual aid for folks watching at home."
  • Thank you. The imam [Yassin M. Aref] that was arrested in [Albany] New York last week was discovered because his name appeared in a Rolodex in a terrorist training camp in Iraq before the war. The book was found after, by U.S. troops, but he was in Iraq before the war. Is this another piece of evidence showing the direct terror ties between Iraq and al Qaeda?
  • 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 ["The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"] were "well-founded." Doesn't Joe Wilson owe the President and America an apology for his deception and his own intelligence failure?
  • Thanks. Why hasn't the administration made more of the U.N. inspectors' report that says Saddam Hussein was dismantling his missile and WMD [weapons of mass destruction] sites before and during the war? And doesn't that, combined with the now-proven al Qaeda link between Iraq -- between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization -- unequivocally make the case for going to war in Iraq