Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Heidi Chronicles

AMERICAblog is all over the Gannon/Guckert story with links to the sites that show in graphic detail Mr. G’s, uh, positions on a variety of subjects. (WARNING: not work-safe.)

Other than the thrill of a sex scandal, though, the question comes up as to why it’s relevant to examine the private life of Gannon/Guckert. After all, when President Clinton was on the spit for Monica Lewinski, his defenders – including me – said that what a person did in their private life was nobody else’s business. John Aravosis, the author of AMERICAblog replies:

Why does it matter that Jeff Gannon may have been a gay hooker named James Guckert with a $20,000 defaulted court judgment against him? So he somehow got a job lobbing softball questions to the White House. Big deal. If he was already a prostitute, why not be one in the White House briefing room as well?

This is the Conservative Republican Bush White House we’re talking about. It’s looking increasingly like they made a decision to allow a hooker to ask the President of the United States questions. They made a decision to give a man with an alias and no journalistic experience access to the West Wing of the White House on a “daily basis.” They reportedly made a decision to give him – one of only six – access to documents, or information in those documents, that exposed a clandestine CIA operative. Say what you will about Monika Lewinsky [sic] – a tasteless episode, “inappropriate,” whatever. Monika wasn’t a gay prostitute running around the West Wing. What kind of leadership would let prostitutes roam the halls of the West Wing? What kind of war-time leadership can’t find the same information that took bloggers only days to find?

None of this is by accident.

Someone had to make a decision to let all this happen. Who? Someone committed a crime in exposing Valerie Plame and now it appears a gay hooker may be right in the middle of all of it? Who?

Ultimately, it is the hypocrisy that is such a challenge to grasp in this story. This is the same White House that ran for office on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While they are surrounded by gay hookers? While they use a gay hooker to write articles for their gay-hating political base? While they use a gay hooker to destroy a political enemy? Not to mention the hypocrisy of a “reporter” who chooses to publish article after article defending the anti-gay religious-right point of view on gay civil rights issue.

Who in the White House is at the center of all of this? Who allowed this to go on in the People’s House? Who committed the crime of exposing Valerie Plame? Jeff Gannon has the answers to these questions, and boy we know he loves to talk.

Let him talk to Patrick Fitzgerald.

Or to put it in terms that Republicans can understand, if a pro-Democratic reporter named Heather Fielding was planted in the White House press room during the Clinton Administration, given a nod at the gate, and asked mushball questions of Joe Lockhart until Matt Drudge found out that her real name was Heidi Fleiss and that her other job was running a high-priced hook shop in Georgetown, don’t you think the right-wing blowhards would be all over it and that Congress would be drafting articles of impeachment?

Of course they would. But let it happen to them and they shrug it off, as Eric Boehlert notes in an excellent wrap-up of AMERICAblog’s story in Salon.com.

Writing for the right-wing media advocacy group, Accuracy in Media, Cliff Kincaid dismissed the controversy as “laughable,” insisting Guckert’s only “crimes” were “that he was too pro-Republican, attended White House briefings, and asked questions unfair to Democrats.” And at Power Line, the conservative outpost that wrote relentlessly about CBS’s troubles with its Bush National Guard story last year, the site has confessed bewilderment about the Guckert controversy. “I can’t figure out what the story is,” wrote one of Power Line’s contributors.

Whether news that Guckert was able to go from posting his gay male escort services online to being ushered into the White House under a phony name on behalf of a fake news organization — and was never asked to pass an FBI background check — constitutes a real “story” among the Republican Party faithful, or the mainstream press corps, remains to be seen.

If the last four years are any guide, the mainstream press corps will ignore it until, just as what happened with Trent Lott / Strom Thurmond, the bloggers make it happen.

By the way, I’ll bet the Log Cabin Republicans were just thrilled to find out that there is such a thing as a conservative gay Republican in the White House.