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February 19, 2005
More Gannon Trivia...

One of the addresses associated with James D. Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, is 5271 Kennett Pike, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Sometimes the city is listed as Greenville and sometimes as Centreville/Centerville.)

For example, when the state of Delaware issued a tax assessment against Guckert in 1996, his address was listed as 5271 Kennett Pike.

And in 2000, when the guy who designed some of Guckert's escort websites sent invoices to Guckert, he sent them to 5271 Kennett Pike.

5271 Kennett Pike is one-half of a duplex. According to Delaware real estate website, the entire duplex was sold in September 2004 for $425,000.

Property transfer records from New Castle County, Delaware, available via (for a $1.00 fee) show that the seller of the property was the "Centreville Lodge #37 IOOF of DE Inc."

IOOF equals "Independent Order of Odd Fellows," which according to the organization's official website, is "one of the largest and oldest fraternal orders in the United States." Its motto: "Friendship, Love, and Truth."

In addition, in the Sales History section of this record from the New Castle County government website, it shows that this property has been "sold" only twice over the years -- once in 1900, for $0, and in September 2004. (Also, while this record doesn't specifically list a "Seller," it does reference the Centerville Lodge #37, listing it in the "Subdivision" field.)

Based on this information, it appears that the Centerville Odd Fellows owned the property when Guckert was using the address. So was/is Guckert an Odd Fellow too, or just an odd fellow?

This could be completely irrelevant, of course. But perhaps membership in a large fraternal organization might help explain how a guy with virtually no journalism experience could suddenly start getting frequent access to White House press conferences and high-level sources.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:48 AM
February 18, 2005
Gannon Fodder

With all the ostensible concern about the impropriety of delving into Jeff Gannon's "private life" as a professional escort, there's two questions that don't seem like they've been answered definitively: Was Talon News actually paying a salary to Gannon? And if it wasn't, how was he earning a living for the past two years?

Based on what it says on the About Talon page, Talon is an all-volunteer operation: "Want to join the Talon News team? Click here to find out more about being a volunteer reporter for Talon News."

Apparently an exception was made for Gannon, but it's still unclear when Talon started paying him, or how much he was earning...

The latest evidence suggests Gannon started working for in January 2003.

But based on the information contained in the minutes from a Standing Committee of Correspondents meeting that took place in February 2004, it appears that Talon only started paying him after he submitted an application to get full accreditation for the Congressional press galleries: "...Talon News is an all-volunteer news service, though since Mr. Guckert's application [to the Standing Committee] was submitted, a stipend was arranged that would provide more than half of Mr. Guckerts income in an effort to comply with the gallery's requirements that correspondents be paid, full time employees of the organization for which they are applying."

Since the stipend was only for "more than half" of Gannon's income, presumably he had some other job. But what was it? The same document implies that Gannon might have been getting paid for being the Executive Director of the Free Speech Foundation, but it doesn't say that explicitly, and information on that organization is pretty much non-existent.

Also, the minutes make it clear that Talon started paying Gannon only after he applied for accreditation. Since he obviously applied sometime around February 2004 (because the meeting dealing with his request for accreditation happened in late February 2004), that suggests he was working for Talon for as long as a year before it started paying him even a "stipend."

So how was he earning his keep in 2003?

In an interview on CNN tonight, Gannon referred to Talon as his "employer." And CNN's Anderson Cooper referred to Talon as his "employer" too.

But from what I can see, it's never been established how much Talon was actually paying him. Was it an amount someone could realistically live on? And if it wasn't, did he have any other legal sources of income?

I actually believe Gannon is what he says he is -- i.e. a semi-pro reporter who didn't have any secret connections to the White House. And I'll be pretty surprised if it turns out that Scotty or Ari or anyone else in the White House knew about Gannon's escort business. I doubt Bobby Eberle knew about his escort business either.

But if Talon wasn't paying Gannon a salary that he could actually live on, and if he had no other verifiable sources of legal income, then things would get kind of weird, wouldn't they? Indeed, at that point I think you'd see all the people who are currently decrying the invasion of Gannon's "private life" suddenly get very interested in his private life. And they'd be trying to prove that not only was he an escort at some point, but that he was an escort the whole time he was working for Talon! Because if he wasn't earning a living from his Talon gig, and he wasn't earning a living from his escort business, then where was he getting his money from?

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:13 PM
February 17, 2005
The Kids Are All Right

If there's any industry more desperate to replenish its dying user base than the tobacco industry, it's the newspaper industry. Year after year, for more than six decades now, the percentage of Americans who are willing to part with a quarter for their daily dose of sports scores and the Jumble has fallen.

Thirsting for 18 to 34-year old blood, newspapers supersize their personals sections and euthanize beloved fossils like "Barney Google" in favor of edgier fare. The Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post have even created free, tarted up, editorially emaciated tabloid versions of themselves. Or to put it another way, yes, it really has come to this: The nation's leading newspapers are now taking their editorial cues from a second-tier reality show.

Recent evidence suggests such efforts are entirely misguided, however. What really attracts younger readers, it turns out, is censorship. According to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored a survey of more than 100,000 high school students, 32% of those students believe that the press enjoys "too much freedom." And only 24% "strongly agree" that "newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of a story."

Naturally, one would like to blame the students' teachers for this apparent indifference to the 1st Amendment, but as any dittohead can tell you, the loony leftists who comprise today's high school faculties are too busy promoting homosexuality and covering up the fact that the Bible is totally filled with references to dinosaurs to take on any new assignments. And even if they could find the time to do so, why would these blackboard propagandists encourage stricter regulation of the (liberal) media?

A better hypothesis: The idea that dissent equals treason has evolved into the idea that reporting equals treason, and it has trickled down into the high schools. According to human car alarms like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, not to mention a legion of patriotic bloggers, our enemies in Iraq are no longer the death-hungry nihilists we once took them for. Now, they're simply media whores, and if CNN and the New York Times stopped lavishing so much attention upon them, well, then, they'd eventually lose their will to destroy us (even though that will was once so hard-wired into their souls it mandated a preemptive strike against them). So questioning the absence of WMDs, or dwelling on Abu Ghraib, or even reporting U.S. military deaths are forms of aiding and abetting the enemy now -- it's what gives them the strength to perservere. In a just world, the treasonous bastards who continue to brazenly report on the war would be publicly drowned in large vats of spit. Unfortunately, our bleeding-heart high-school students are apparently only ready to go as far as government censure.

Admittedly, the idea that large numbers of high-school students now think exactly like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly rests on the unlikely premise that large numbers of high-school students actually watch Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, or at the very least, listen to their parents who do. But how else to explain their alarming disdain for one of democracy's most cherished tenets? Is it possible that a steady diet of hip-hop, ultraviolent videogames, Internet porn, and all the other cultural contaminants that ostensibly turn today's teens into amoral outlaws are in fact breeding neo-totalitarians?

Perhaps the whole thing is an ingenious liberal plot. After all, state-run media is a hallmark of the world's most oppressive regimes. If the Bush Administration were able to achieve the sort of news media control here that Saddam Hussein once enjoyed in Iraq, where every single paper was a dutiful government organ, things might get so bad we'd have to invade ourselves! And, then, after the bombing was finished, there'd be multi-party elections, money for new schools and hospitals, and all the other fruits of a vibrant, burgeoning democracy.

In the end, these are questions best left to sociologists and conspiracy theorists -- for newspaper pragmatists, the takeaway here is that "government approval" is a feature, not a bug. Ironically, just five days before the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation publicized the results of its survey, President Bush officially terminated the White House practice of subsidizing pundits who were sympathetic to its legislative goals. "We will not be paying, you know, commentators to advance our agenda," the president insisted, in an effort to defuse the recent bombshells that conservative opinion retailers Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Mike McManus had all been quietly paid by the federal government for various services rendered.

Alas, the newspaper industry's response to these cozy transactions has been overwhelmingly negative. Gallagher has been gently drubbed by her fellow journalists for failing to disclose her secret fling with the Department of Health and Human Services. McManus was scolded for a similar lapse. And even hardcore conservative loyalists like Jonah Goldberg have criticized Williams' decision to accept $240,000 from the Department of Education to plug Bush's No Child Left Behind Act on his TV and radio shows.

Can you believe that? Here you have the industry's best shot at winning over younger readers, and the feds are actually willing to sweeten the deal with some generous cash bonuses. But instead of figuring out to make such arrangements an industrywide phenomenon, a chorus of shortsighted killjoys condemns the practice! No wonder the public has so much contempt for professional journalists these days.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:27 AM
February 15, 2005
National Center for Policy Banalysis

Here's syndicated columnist Bruce Bartlett, showing the kind of smarts it takes to be a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis:

Yet journalists are still quick to assume that every politician who takes a $1,000 campaign contribution from a lobbyist has been bought, while self-righteously proclaiming that $100,000 speaking fees cannot buy them. At least the officials have to disclose it, while no one knows how much the journalists make or whom they have been bought by—sorry, I mean who they were paid to speak to. If what the journalists are doing is in fact justifiable, why don’t they give government officials the same consideration?

Um, maybe because journalists can't pass laws that favor their benefactors?

Or maybe I'm the naive one here, and journalists can pass laws that favor their benefactors. After all, there's gotta be some reason undisclosed corporate donors gave approximately $1 million to The National Center for Policy Analysis in 2003, which in turns subsidizes Bartlett to the tune of $154,050 annually (plus at least $9673 more in additional benefits), so he can write his gently read column.

Posted by Greg Beato at 10:12 AM