Nine days after White House reporter "Jeff Gannon" (real name: James Guckert) quit his job as a journalist for the online site Talon News, NBC and MSNBC mysteriously decided to go large with the softball-question scandal Thursday. NBC's Today and Nightly News, as well as MSNBC's prime-time shows Hardball with Chris Matthews and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, pounded on what Olbermann called "Jeff Gannon, the fake reporter."
That's an interesting approach to media controversies. After a far more powerful journalist, CNN vice president Eason Jordan, suggested that American soldiers in Iraq were targeting journalists for death, NBC practically ignored it. Jordan's wild allegations drew only 30 words - on Saturday morning, February 12. Today news reader Amy Robach reported: "A CNN executive under fire for making comments about journalists killed in Iraq has resigned. Eason Jordan says he is stepping down to save the network from being, quote, 'tarnished.'" While Keith Olbermann has pounded on "Gannongate" for days, he only briefly noted Jordan quitting on February 11.
If "Gannon" was so important, how is it that NBC and the other major media outlets only discovered him when he was attacked by liberal groups and bloggers? When have his questions at the White House (or the White House answers) ever been newsworthy before? In fact, White House briefings rarely air on cable news any more, so where was the nefarious propaganda power of the softball questions? He was only one reporter asking one question in a typically 45-minute briefing.
Chris Matthews showed the liberal arrogance on the "Gannon" scandal by ending last night's interview segment: "Pat Buchanan defending the un-defensible [sic]. And [liberal Washington Post reporter] Dana Milbank speaking for straight journalism." But if softball questions in the White House are an enormous scandal, then why weren't there questions about pulling press passes in the Clinton years?
See also: www.mrc.org