Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Stranger Than Fiction

This article is taken from Counterpunch.org. The story about the suspected GOP plant would make for a far fetched work of fiction, however, it may end up being a true story.

Weekend Edition
February 19 / 20, 2005
Stranger Than Fiction
Self-Hating Gays: Welcome to the White House and Welcome to Commit Suicide


In 1999, an ex-Marine in his late 30s pays a web designer to build him a web site advertising his services as a male prostitute, emphasizing the military-fetish aspect, replete with lots of explicit body shots. Already owing the state of Delaware $20,700 in back taxes from 1991 to 1994, he perhaps needs the money. He flourishes in his trade, servicing in particular a military officer clientele, who grace his websites with such testimonials as the following, posted in 2002:

"I hired Jeff last winter when I was in Philadelphia on business. I was so pleased with the experience that I recently had him travel with me on a weekend trip to North Carolina. I am an active duty senior officer in the US Army. Discretion is of utmost importance to me. Jeff understands that because of his Marine background. He has so many talents besides the bedroom, it was a great experience for me. He is all-man, athletic and self-assured. Great body, he helped me work out twice, one time on base. The sex was great, he's a hard core top, verbal and strong, never romantic, but not mean."

"Jeff," whose real name is Jim Guckert, terminates the sites just a month after he acquires a new job in 2003. Using the pseudonym Jeff Gannon, he acquires credentials as a journalist by taking a $ 50 two-day course and joining "Talon News," a website without an office or staff whose material is circulated by an organization called GOPUSA, whose motto is "Bringing the conservative message to America." "Gannon" is profiled on the Talon site as a gun-toting, SUV-driving, born-again Christian conservative Republican. As such, he applies for access to White House press briefings, and after the requisite background check becomes a staple in the question and answer sessions with presidential press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan. He becomes known for his vapid, tendentious questions designed to denigrate Democrats and others questioning Bush policy. His fluff becomes the welcome foil to the irritating, meatier questions posed by real people.

Meanwhile "Jeff" hosts a right-wing radio show, "Jeff Gannon's Washington," and authors homophobic articles, focusing on Democrats' gay-friendly positions, including one on October 12, 2004 warning that John Kerry "could become the first gay president." Then, alas, his ass-kissing questions raise suspicions that he might be a GOP plant. Web sleuths discover his play-for-pay past, feel indignant not so much about his business ventures as his abject hypocrisy, and they expose his sorry ass to a broader audience than he'd ever intended. Their exposé generates a host of questions. How was this lightweight able to join the White House press corps in the first place, alongside John King, Ron Hutcheson, etc.? Did the necessary background check reveal his fraudulence? It appears he attended using daily passes, rather than a "hard" pass, although there is some debate about that. McClellan says he knew the man was using a pseudonym. Did he know all the other stuff?

Personally, I have no problem with this dude's sexuality. Or even his marketing of it, which I suppose fits this exemplary free market economy as well as his boasted 8" fits the random client's freely offered orifice. This is not our business. It entertains me to read his conservative defenders obliged to indignantly insist that his private life shouldn't be an issue. By all means, may they continue to work with that concept, and maybe despite themselves work their way out of their homophobia. And may Jim/Jeff get some therapy to resolve the self-hatred so apparent in his dual career. Meanwhile, the blogs are abuzz with speculation. Did the guy sleep his way into the White House? That's a merely amusing issue. More seriously: Why was he so involved in the effort to discredit South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle? How'd the "journalist" know hours in advance about the attack on Iraq? How did he get access to the Plame memo?

Perhaps we are on the edge of a major scandal here. We know that the White House has used taxpayers' money to pay at least six journalists, most notably Armstrong Williams, to promote its agenda. We know that soon after 9-11 government officials openly declared their intention to seed the news with content promoting "America's interests," and although public indignation quieted such talk, the government-press relationship has never been so intimate. The "Gannon" episode is the appropriate metaphor for the whole illicit relationship.

But (to continue on the theme of hypocrisy): the administration which boasts that it wants to "leave no child behind," and which pays whorish "journalists" to write that it wants to leave no child behind, announced last week that Charles Curie, the administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) would not be allowed to attend a conference in Portland, Oregon organized by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) unless some changes were made in the program. At issue? The title of a workshop on "Suicide Prevention Among Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and
Transgender Individuals." In the workshop, focus would be on gay kids who are often driven to suicide due to homophobic environments. The Bush administration demanded that, as a condition for Curie's participation, the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual," and "transgender" be struck from the title. The regime, in deference to its Christian-fundamentalist homophobe-fascist supporters, can't be smeared by such contact, you see. Intimidated, the SPRC changed the title to "Suicide Prevention in Vulnerable Populations."

Such are the times we live in. Self-hating gays are welcome in the White House, and equally welcome to commit suicide. But discussion of gayness itself is highly unwelcome. If you'd like to protest this particular stupidity, try:

Charles Curie
Office of the Administrator, SAMHSA
Rockville, MD 20850
Tel: 240-276-2000

Mike Leavitt
Secretary of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, D.D. 20201
Tel: 202-690-7000
Fax: 202-690-7203

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

From The Peking Duck - http://pekingduck.org, February 15, 2005.

Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert -- Gay male prostitute, White House lackey

I have avoided blogging on this sensational topic simply because the fulltime liberal blogs are doing such an incredible job exposing a story that would have brought down any president except George Bush. The implications on numerous levels are simply staggering.

First there's the fact that a non-reporter is not only given a daily pass into the White House press briefings, but is constantly called upon by Scottie Boy whenever he gets into a jam. This alone is dumbfounding, an blatant example of choreographing the news, an act of fraud, deception and boundless deceit. Then there's the fact that he "writes" for a site owned by GOPUSA. Then there's the fact that real journalists are ignored as Scotty fields JimJeff's softballs, designed to attack and embarrass Democrats. And how did he ever clear his background check? What's going on??

Oh, and did I mention that JimJeff was the man to whom our great leaders leaked information (false, almost surely) about the Valerie Plame affair? Information that smeared her husband Joe Wilson. (That smear generated one of the ugliest clusterfucks ever among the right-wing bloggers like Tom Maguire and Glenn, who came down on Wilson with a savage and unapologetic ferocity. Was any of it true? Does anybody care?)

And this is all a prelude before we get to the more lurid angle. I felt the liberal bloggers were jumping the gun, seizing on what last week seemed to be JimJeff's possible association with a gay male escort service. I steered clear because it was too tenuous, too weak, too unsubstantiated -- or so I thought.

Not any more. In a post of staggering importance, Americablog does the detective work and presents us with the hard evidence. It is shocking. It is unbelievable. It take blog sleuthing to a new level.

Imagine for one moment if the JimJeff scandal occured around Kerry. Or Clinton. Or Barbara Boxer. Imagine what Michelle Malkin and Charles Johnson and Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus and Jeff Jarvis and Jonah Goldberg and Matt Drudge and Chris Matthews and Sean Hannity would be doing. The inimitable Digby lays it out for us:

I do know that if this were 1998, we'd be knee deep in congressional investigations into the gay hooker ring in the White House. Every news crew in the DC area would be camped out on JimJeff's front lawn. A wild-eyed Victoria Toensing and panting Kelly Ann Fitzpatrick would be crawling up on the Hardball desk rending their silk teddies and speaking in tongues while Matthews' exploding head spun around on his shoulders.

But, it isn't 1998 and it will probably not even be mentioned. And I'm not a Republican so I don't think, as they would, that it's necessary to dig into every single White House staffer's sex life to find out who leaked a confidential memo to a gay hooker.

Well, if that famously liberal media won't investigate it, we bloggers will have to pick up the slack: Shout it from the tallest rooftops. Link to it everywhere. Make it clear, we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore. This double standard simply must stop. Once our news media fail us, once they become a mouthpiece for the government, none of us is safe. This is why always, absolutely always, the first thing tyrants do to ensure their stranglehold is seize and control the media, without exception. If our media are emasculated and helpless, the door is wide open for authoritarianism.

James Wolcott brilliantly refers to today's press corps as "attack poodles." If they let this go, if they acquiece to the right-wingers who will shriek that this is all about "personal stuff" that is none of our business, then we will know for certain that all is lost. For this is in no way a matter of "personal stuff." As America blog says:

So in the end, why does this matter? 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 - 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 ant-gay religious-right point of view on gay civil rights issue.

We are owed answers, which can only be forthcoming with the weight of a massive investigation. This is not about a guy with a willing and eager intern of legal age behind a closed door harming no one (stupid though that guy's actions may have been). It's about deception of the American people on a massive scale, originating at the very top.

My predictions: The issue will soon be dead in the water from lack of diligent follow-up (I sure hope I'm wrong), and fat Scotty will have to resign no matter what -- he's lost whatever microscopic speck of credibility he may have had left.

My thanks to the commenter, Dodo, who drew my attention to these excellent links. Don't delay -- just go there now.

Update: The story is picking up traction with that evil liberal media, which has until now been treating it with kid gloves. Now that the porn pictures are out, that's gonna have to change.

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