Wednesday, February 16, 2005


The educational value of the Guckert/Gannon affair

As we say in the South, I haven't had so much fun since Grandma got her tit caught in the wringer. And a great part of the fun has been watching what the media are doing (and not doing) with the James Guckert/Jeff Gannon story.

NPR and the NewsHour took little nibbles at the story in the past few days, avoiding any mention of the call-boy connections. But that part of the story is beginning to emerge.

Take the Salt Lake Tribune (thanks to Buzzflash). I mean, most of us meditate on Salt Lake City when a cold shower is not available. John Yewell writes

McClellan [White House press secretary] was vague about how long he has known about JG's pseudonym and connections. But he strenuously denied that JG was a plant and insisted that at the time of the press conference Bush didn't know who JG was. For many reporters, accustomed to this administration's rigid choreographing of the news, the denials didn't pass the duck test.

But what really got the bloggers' attention was JG's ownership of three Web sites:,, and - particularly in light of his contributions to Talon News' frequent anti-gay articles. During the presidential campaign, JG once called John Kerry "a coddler of gays."

JG admitted to registering the sites for clients but said they were never launched. He has yet to respond to another blogger discovery: an AOL screen profile for a "JDG," since removed, containing a provocative photo of a shirtless man with dog tags draped around his neck. The man bears a strong resemblance to Gannon/Guckert.

No one, including John Aravosis who is one of the leaders of the investigation, wants to say that the man spread-eagled [caution: do not click on this link if your boss is standing over your shoulder] in the photo is Guckert. But I love Yewell's description of the picture as "provocative." Guckert (or his clone) is nude, which is objective. Whether the photo is provocative depends upon one's taste.

This reminds me in an odd way of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. In the year 1998 B.M. (Before Monica), most of us didn't know what fellatio meant. I myself thought it was a technique used in Italian Renaissance painting.

Then before you could say "blow job" the nightly news organizations were painting word pictures that even the kiddies could understand. It was the biggest sex education event since the 1948 publication of Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Elementary school teachers were being asked to explain terms such as "fellatio," "extramarital" and "cum-stained." Republicans, who until then had zealously shielded the innocent ears of children from such language, felt this was just too big a story to be smothered in propriety. And the media obliged with the details.

Will the Guckert/Gannon affair be as educational? I can hear the kiddies now: Mommy, what is a prostitute? What's an escort service? What do they mean by 'military escort'? Do prostitutes live in the White House? Is a prostitute the same as a call-boy? If I become a reporter, does that mean I will be a prostitute? Can women be reporters too? Can I be a call-girl when I grow up?

If this story "gets legs," I will not be a bit surprised if in a year's time children have dropped the game of "Doctor" and replaced it with "Reporter." It's "funner" and you don't need credentials.

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