Friday, January 28, 2005

Talon News and Jeff Gannon

This may be the age of conservative journalists being in trouble. Not only are Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus all a little bit in trouble right now, but Media Matters for America has a series of articles on Jeff Gannon, the Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent of Talon News. Talon News is a wingnut media corporation. According to Media Matters, Gannon is well known for asking loaded pro-Republican questions at White House press briefings. Like these:

"McClellan: I think we've been through this issue. [Nod to Gannon] Go ahead.

"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.

"McClellan: That's correct, yes. The household survey is different from the payroll survey. And the household survey showed that some -- an increase of 496,000 jobs in January alone. So there are different numbers that you're talking about there. And we can look at both. But, again, you're getting into -- you're getting into the numbers here. The numbers that the President is interested in is the actual numbers of jobs being created and the policies that we are taking to create an even more robust environment for job creation."

In his March 10, 2004, column, Froomkin indicated that Gannon has served as a useful lifeline for McClellan amid hostile questioning from less compliant reporters:

But he [Gannon] does keep lobbing those softballs. Sometimes he even brings props. And press secretary McClellan seems to appreciate it.

Yesterday, for instance, McClellan was getting hammered with questions about the 9/11 commission and the possible inappropriate juxtaposition of a visit to a 9/11 memorial with a fundraiser on Thursday.

It was getting ugly. "I'm not even going to dignify that with a response," McClellan said in response to a jibe. (See the full text of the briefing.)

Then he saw daylight:

"Go ahead, Jeff."

Gannon: "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."

McClellan: "You're pointing out some historical facts. Obviously, Pearl Harbor was a defining moment back in the period of World War II, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was strongly committed to winning World War II and talked about it frequently."

Gannon: "So you think it certainly is valid that the President does talk about it and --"

McClellan: "Yes, he addressed this this weekend, when he was first asked about it. September 11th was a defining moment for our nation. We all shared in that experience. And it's important that we look at how we lead in a post-September 11th world. And that's an important discussion to have with the American people, and to talk about the differences in approaches to winning the war on terrorism and preventing attacks from happening in the first place."

It's nice to have such a supporting reporter in these troublesome press briefings, isn't it? Gannon likes the White House point of view on issues so well that he has used the RNC talking points extensively in his own writing, word by word, it appears, in some cases.

Thus, it's not surprising that Media Matters for America asks why Talon News has press credentials, especially as they appear to employ very few journalists. It might be equally engaging to ask how one gets to become the Washington bureau chief of a newspaper that has White House credentials. Gannon gives the following biographical information:

Jeff is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University System and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education. He is also a graduate of the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism.

I had never heard of the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism. This is what the Leadership Institute website says about the program:

The Broadcast Journalism School is a one-stop, full-service seminar for conservatives who want a career in journalism. You'll learn information you won't receive anywhere else and get personalized advice from our expert faculty:

* Learn how to find good internships and make the most of them
* Gain networking skills to help you land your job and increase your effectiveness
* Develop a top-notch resume and learn how to make yourself stand out in an interview
* Learn a proven, step-by-step job hunting strategy and much more

An intense two-day seminar, the Broadcast Journalism School is designed to give aspiring journalists the skills necessary to bring balance to the media and succeed in this highly competitive field.

For $50, you'll receive two days of instruction, meals on Saturday and Sunday and all course materials. Limited free housing is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Let me see if I got this right: One becomes the Washington bureau chief of a newspaper that has White House press credentials by taking an intense two-day seminar in journalism? And it costs all of fifty dollars?