Last month, in response to the rumors that Jeff Gannon’s access to the White House press room was the result of an affair he was having with someone in the White House, I wrote the following :
It’s easy to believe awful things about people you hate. So as much as I think this scenario might be plausible, I’d love to hear some backup before this ribald chatter gets repeated to the point that it get promoted from the the realm of speculation into fact.
Well, this revelation over at The Raw Story certainly adds credibility to the rumors :
Guckert made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings. He had little to no previous journalism experience, previously worked as a male escort, and was refused a congressional press pass.
Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits.
Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One?which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House. On other days, the president held photo opportunities.
On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.
Checking in and not checking out with the security desk to me sounds like the behavior of somebody meeting their boyfriend at work and riding home with them through the employee parking lot. I’m sure there are plenty of other plausible explanations, but that’s the one that makes the most sense to me.
I don’t buy the blackmail scenario, though. If Jeff Gannon was stupid enough to try to blackmail the Karl Rove-run White House, he would have had his ass kicked long before we’d ever heard of the guy. I’m thinking this is a classic case of nepotism. A high-level Administration staffer has a “friend” who needs a favor so Ari and Karl, who always welcome extra friendly faces in the press room, pull some strings and hook the guy up. Boyfriend has a new career, the press secretary has a go-to guy if the questions get tough, and nobody notices or cares.
That said, while I initially thought Gannon’s presence was purely political, I no longer think that explains how he got there. If JimmyJeff’s only business in the White House was to spread GOP talking points, there wouldn’t be any unusual activity on the Secret Service logs. More importantly, however, is the fact that he’s an idiot. Having seen this guy interviewed a number of times by now, I’m sure a political genius like Karl Rove could find a more competent shill than this guy. Not only is Gannon dumb enough to think he can get away with plagiarizing Republican press releases, but he actually defends the practice. If the White House needed to recruit an Administration-friendly reporter, they could find somebody a lot less retarded than this guy (like Armstrong Williams or Maggie Gallagher).