Jeff Gannon, the esteemed former White House correspondent and male escort service entrepreneur, has been invited to speak at the National Press Club on a panel of, well, others.  But the trade journal Editor and Publisher reports that including Gannon on an April 8 panel discussion about journalism and blogging called “Who is a Journalist?,” has caused “a flurry.”  
“In a letter published …[March 29th] on the Poynter Institute’s Romenesko site,” Editor and Publisher continues, “Jonathan Salant, vice chairman of the Press Club, asked: ‘Is E&P suggesting that we should not invite controversial figures to appear at the Club and be questioned by reporters? … People get invited to speak at the Club, whether a luncheon, a newsmaker event or a forum, because they are newsworthy.’

Salant was responding to a March 28th article in Editor and Publisher that had questioned the validity of Gannon’s inclusion on the panel.

E&P Editor Greg Mitchell responded in letter of his own, according to E&P, noting that “Gannon is appearing as part of a serious journalism discussion, not as a solo newsmaker: ‘Should a non-journalist who has worked as a male escort be invited to speak on a journalism panel at the National Press Club?’ He asked Salant to supply the names of any suspected ‘hookers’ who ‘have previously appeared as speakers at the Press Club, especially as part of journalism panels.'”

Indeed. This “newsmaker” sat among the elite White House press corps for two years, having zero journalism background, operating under a pseudonym, writing for a fake news agency that was really a GOP political front, and well, immediately prior to his new life as White House correspondent and escort service proprietor, he worked as an office manager at an auto body shop. Now leaders in the Washington press corps have placed him on a panel discussing the difference between blogging and journalism.  How’s that for muddying the waters?  

Now how is it exactly that Gannon got access to the White House for two years to lob softball questions to press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan and president George Bush? Oh, never mind, let’s focus on really important questions like, are bloggers really journalists? Let’s ask Jeff Gannon!

In fairness, the members of the National Press Club may pose some good questions to Gannon next week, and they may force some interesting answers — but they are not the folks reporting the story.

The new ePluribus Media (an organization with which I am pleased to be a part) continues to crack open new elements of the Gannongate story.  But before we get to the latest news, please consider making a contribution to help ePluribus Media get started. (Formal organizational launch coming in a few weeks!)  

The mission statement of ePluribus Media declares that it is a “cooperative of citizen volunteers dedicated to researching issues of common concern, exposing government propaganda and corruption, and encouraging the highest standards of ethics and journalism.”

The group is committed to the principles enumerated in the Statement of Shared Purpose and the Citizen’s Bill of Journalism Rights composed by the Committee of Concerned Journalists.  

Now back to our story.

Susan Gardner, cofounder of ePluribus Media, has a new story, posted on The Daily Kos: Fake Reporter Running Sham Nonprofit?

Gannon advertised that his group, Free Speech Foundation was registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, but, Gardner suggests that its real purpose was to raise money for lawyers defending Gannon’s pals in a libel suit.

“Like almost everything else connected with The Great Pretender,” Gardner writes, “‘Jeff Gannon,’ aka J.D. Guckert – his name, his ‘news agency,’ his purported conservative family values while selling his ‘escort services’ on the internet – his Free Speech Foundation is looking more and more like a sham ‘tax-exempt’ organization, with the timing of its founding suggesting it was created primarily in response to a $5 million libel lawsuit filed against a rabidly pro-Bush website called, appropriately enough,”  

“It is apparent that the Free Speech Foundation may have been a front organization set up to launder money and provide contributors with tax-exemptions,” Gardner stated in an ePluribus Media press release.  She also notes that ePluribus Media volunteers have documented much of the evidence available on the Internet before it was “scrubbed,” or erased. “Over the past months, we have seen several sites close down altogether or delete all references to Jeff Gannon and the rest of his activities,” said Gardner.

[Crossposted from]

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