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Morning Gannon update

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Ugh. I'm up so I can do a radio interview on a liberal radio station in Detroit.

Here's a summary of today's Gannon news:

- Seattle Post-Intelligencer covers Gannon (Cox News Service).

With the mystery of "Jeff Gannon" deepening, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., yesterday renewed her call for the White House to explain its relationship with a conservative ex-reporter linked to an online gay escort service.
- NY Daily News, again
The latest media-manipulation scandal emanating from the Bush administration isn't just outrageous - it's downright sleazy. The man in the photo is a pro-Bush political operative named James Guckert, who until recently wrote for two conservative Web sites under the alias Jeff Gannon while apparently leading a double life in the world of gay porn and prostitution. Guckert got a pass to enter the White House, where the President called on him at briefings....

It boggles the mind to think that a gay prostitute using a fake name might have passed through security screens to join a public Q & A session with the leader of the free world. Equally sensational is the possibility, suggested by members of Congress and major news organizations, that the White House deliberately helped set up Guckert with credentials and privileged information.

It gets stranger.

Guckert's name has popped up in the Valerie Plame affair, in which Plame's status as an undercover CIA agent was leaked to columnist Robert Novak - in violation of federal law - and published in 2003. The leak - whatever its source - is widely thought to be an act of political retaliation against Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, a former acting ambassador to Iraq who publicly questioned the Bush administration's prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
- The Washington Blade confirms the gay angle to the story.

- New York Times - Of course, the NYT refuses to mention the escort issue. Still, it helps a lot that they're writing about this.

- Great editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Heard about the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert muck-up in Washington? If you are an aficionado of the blogs, you've heard plenty. They're having a field day with it. But underneath all the fun lies a serious problem that hasn't got its due from the mainstream press: This White House employs a lot more kinds of fakery than the budgetary smoke and mirrors described in the editorial above....

So the question becomes, just how did this character get White House press credentials, despite supposed post-Sept. 11 security requirements? Bruce Bartlett, a conservative columnist who worked in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, says that "if Gannon was using an alias, the White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover." In other words, the White House wanted him at those briefings and wanted him to ask his softball questions, most likely to divert attention when legitimate reporters were getting too pushy.
- Leonard Pitts, jr. in the Miami Herald

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