FOX NEWS WATCH -- Gannon Segment Transcript
ERIC BURNS: The dust has settled, some time has passed, and the daily press credential will be issued no more. So, it's time to look back at the amazing adventures of Jim Guckert -- AKA Jeff Gannon -- a right wing political operative who dreamed of being a $200 a night gay escort. Everyone should have a dream ... [dryly]
[Chuckles from the panel]
Here is Guckert being interviewed on NBC's Today Show Thursday telling reporter Campbell Brown about how he got into all those White House press conferences ...
[CLIP From NBC INTERVIEW]
GANNON: I asked to come. They allowed me to come. And apparently there isn't a very high threshold as far as somebody's personal life to gain access.
[END OF CLIP]
ERIC 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. Was it about his personal life? Could you explain it to me?
JANE HALL: Well, I think the hypocracy and concern of, you know ... They're alot of different issues here. Here's a guy that is called on alot as the group Media Matters - a liberal group - has pointed out. I mean, I just wonder whether a guy whose obviously phrasing left wing questions would've had a press credential for 2 years and was funded by a GOP related group ... It's hard for me to imagine that this could've happened if the bias were on the other foot. So, that is what's partly amusing about it to some people.
ERIC BURNS: But, Let me give you an example of one those questions he had asked. He said to the president at one point reffering 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 a partial journalist.
JIM PINKERTON: Right, although I think you were unfair calling him 'right-wing' in your intro.
ERIC BURNS: Really?!?
JIM PINKERTON: I do ...
NEIL GABLER: I think you were unfair calling him a 'journalist'.
[Eric Burns & Cal Thomas erupt in chuckles]
JANE HALL: Well, I think he was biased when he called him a 'journalist'
JIM PINKERTON: I can't help it because I think right-wing/left-wing are clearly perjoratives.
ERIC BURNS: I didn't mean it as a perjorative. I meant it as a ideological position.
JIM PINKERTON: [Stammering] I know, but ... but ... the proper term would be 'conservative'.
JANE HALL: And our term would be 'progressive'...
ERIC BURNS: Are there alot of other things that I do that you don't want me to use?!? [Sarcastically]
JIM PINKERTON: [Smirking] Well, after the show ... you know
[Chuckles all around]
JIM PINKERTON: Well, let me help Jane in this business about ...
JANE HALL: [To Jim] Don't pat me when you're condescending me, please ...
JIM PINKERTON: Who gets in the press corp? There's a fellow named Russell Macomber who writes for Corporate Crime Reporter who's been there for 4 years asking questions about the USS Liberty and if the Israelis are part of some conspiracy, whether the US committed war crimes in Iraq ... I mean, he is a left-wing Naderite by background and for ...
NEIL GABLER: 'Left-wing' or 'progresssive'?
[Chuckles all around]
JIM PINKERTON: Okay! I'll say it. I feel like insulting him! But for ...
[Neil Gabler gaffaws]
JIM PINKERTON: But for four years, and nobody in the White House press corp
compained about him.
JANE HALL: But the fact is ...
JIM PINKERTON: Gannon/Guckert gets in there and all of a sudden it's different. I think that is literally a double-standard.
JANE HALL: He was ... He was clearly posing questions that fed into their storyline about democrats divorced from reality and souplines. Rush Limbaugh even said, 'Gee, that was a line I used!' He used it as a White House reporter allegedly. It's different.
CAL THOMAS: Well, if we want to talk about softball questions, even credentialed reporters over the years have tossed even the most UNBELIEVABLE softballs. For example, there was the late Sarah McClendon who once said to Bill Clinton in the midst of that whole Monika Lewinsky thing, 'Sir, will you tell us why you think people have been so mean to you? Is it a conspiracy? Is it a plan? They treat you worse than they treat Abe Lincoln!'
ERIC BURNS: So, is that what this is about then, Neil? Is this about the softball questions because of the political orientation of the person ...
NEIL GABLER: Absolutely not.
ERIC BURNS: What is it, then?
NEIL GABLER: There are many many journalists - and we know alot of them - who ACT like partisan hacks. This guy WAS a partisan hack. And there's a difference.
CAL THOMAS: I'm not a partisan hack, but I play one on TV. Is that it, right?
NEIL GABLER: Yes. He worked for a GOP operative. He would not have been credentialed and was NOT credentialed by Congress for precisely that reason. Among other things, they have a rule that if you're a lobbiest for an organization, you can not be credentialed. So, this issue here is that this person should have NEVER been credentialed, was not credentialed by Congress, and we know the ... I know there's some Democrats that disingenously are trying to investigate how he got credentialed. We KNOW how he got credentialed -- the White House wanted him there. They wanted him to ask softball questions and ...
ERIC BURNS: What about the guy Jim mentioned asking hardball questions? They certainly didn't want that, did they, Neil?
NEIL GABLER: Well, then he shouldn't even be there. But the point of the fact is I don't know whether or not he got a daily credential every single day as Guckert did. Every day for ... for years ...
JIM PINKERTON: I agree that Guckert/Gannon getting a pass ... I worked in the White House for 6 years and I can tell you that there's somebody, you know, with a false name is ... but the Secret Service ...
NEIL GABLER: On a daily basis.
JIM PINKERTON: [nodding] On a daily basis takes an incredible ammount of intervention from somebody high up in the White House. That I would ...
ERIC BURNS: So it wasn't just that someone overlooked this. It was complicit.
JIM PINKERTON: It was conscious, yes, and some investigation should proceed and we should find that out. However, as I pointed out many times on this show, there's this new phenomenon called 'bloggers' and there's 8 million of them at last count. Lots of them have lots of facts including what they did to Gannon/Guckert what other bloggers did to Dan Rather in terms of taking apart the story through hard work and elbow grease. But we're having new categories of journalists and so I'm hesitant to say that anyone with a first amendment Free Speech right should be muzzled or intimidated from saying whatever they feel like because that's just what a free press is.
NEIL GABLER: Just not in the White House press corp.
ERIC BURNS: But the point is, Jane, we have a finite ammount of space here and there has to be some distinction ...
JANE HALL: There has to be and I talked to a White House press person who was arguing Jim's point - you don't want to restrict free speech - but there's actually a serious question of security for the President. If you have that kind of a lapse and somebody is intervening, that's a serious issue.
CAL THOMAS: I agree with that and there's another point to be made. The Congressional press galleries, as Jim says, for years, has credentialed and decided who is a ligitimate journalist and who is not. They're really behind the times on this Internet stuff. Slate, for example, and some other conservative websites. Who IS a journalist? I think that is something that needs to be looked into again and new rules established.
NEIL GABLER: Guckert, by the way, thanks among other people Karl Rove for his insistance, encouragement, and guidance. I think that is very, very interesting.
ERIC BURNS: [dryly] Well, he's a polite fellow ...
JIM PINKERTON: That's called brown-nosing your sources ...