Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Why the Jeff Gannon scandal matters

A lot of people have apparently missed the significance of this Jeff Gannon scandal. I keep reading comments at various rightwing blogs about how the resignation of Eason Jordan is so much more significant because he was a senior executive at CNN while Gannon was a nobody working for an unknown web-based publication.
But the point is not who Gannon is or what he did, it’s about the White House trying to manipulate its press briefings by planting partisan shills amongst the reporters to lob administration-friendly questions.

Let’s step back and look at the inevitable result of this kind of policy if it is allowed to fester. Why even bother to have press conferences? If the White House can plant phony reporters who will be called on to ask pre-packaged questions then we might as well not even bother.

Imagine if Bill Clinton had done something like this when he was president. Just as an example, let’s say that the Sierra Club, NOW, ACLU, People for the American Way, NARAL, and so forth all set up front faux “news organizations” and then the White House credentialed each of their “senior correspondents” and made sure they got seated at the front of each news conference where they would be called on to ask questions that allowed the president to push his agenda without ever being challenged on anything.

That is why this is a scandal and why it needs further investigation.

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