Tuesday, February 22, 2005

So Where Did Jeff Gannon Get His Questions From?

So who fed the conservative guy his questions? I mean he works for an organization that isn't noted for it's originality. They steal their stories from real news organizations (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3) and from Bush Administration and GOP press releases. So who told Jeff Gannon what to say each time he was picked to ask a question at various White House Press Briefings?

Sorry to disappoint so many people on the left. But the answer is simple. Jeff Gannon stole his questions from the same places he stole his stories. From real news organizations and from Bush Administration and GOP press releases.

One sterling example:

On February 9th, 2005, a member at Daily Kos named Bolson posted a diary entitled, "Jeff Gannon's slanted questions" (link) which included this transcript from a White House Press Briefing which he cleverly found by doing a search at whitehouse.com for the word "jeff" (whitehouse.gov):

Jeff: "On Tuesday, the American Enterprise Institute held a media event where a video of Saddam's atrocities was shown. The tape showed fingers being cut off, tongues being cut out, and beheadings. None of the networks showed the tape. And few media outlets even mentioned it. Did anyone in this administration ask that these images not be showed to the American people?"

McClellan: "No, Jeff. But it is important to remind people of the atrocities that Saddam Hussein's regime committed. Saddam Hussein was a brutal oppressive dictator who carried out atrocities over a period of years against his own people and against his neighbors. And it's important that the public --"

Jeff: "Well, how do you explain a virtual media blackout on these horrendous acts, when every single day there are pictures about what American soldiers have done in Iraq when these things are far worse? How is there any explanation for that? Is there somebody in the administration that doesn't want the American people to see that?"

McClellan: "I think you're going to see the Iraqi people hold Saddam Hussein accountable for the atrocities that he committed. We will be turning him over to the Iraqi people to face a tribunal by the Iraqis for the atrocities that you mentioned. And I don't think the Iraqi people will ever let people forget those atrocities. It's important to remember that this was a regime that had mass graves, torture rooms, and rape rooms, and engaged in the kinds of atrocities that no one should stand for."

Jeff: "There is visual physical evidence out there. Why is not being put out there for Americans to see and make their own judgment against?"

McClellan: "Yes, I think I've expressed it from our standpoint. If you're talking about it from the media standpoint, I'll leave it to the media to address those issues?"

So. Where exactly did Jeff Gannon get the far-out (cuckooznest) idea that a Bush Administration official was to blame for the suppression of the Saddam atrocity video?

Would you believe...Richard Perle - the ex-chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee and one of the founders of the Project For A New American Century?

This link is to a transcript of the American Enterprise Institute press conference where the video was shown:

Mr. Perle: "When the question of highlighting what you're about to see has been tossed around, we've heard the view expressed, including by some faint hearts in the administration, that this will be misinterpreted as an effort to obscure what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison when some people departed from all of the rules and customs of the United States in the humiliation of prisoners with which we are all familiar."

I'll wager a guess that one of those "faint hearts" that Mr. Perle is alluding to belonged to a man who once commmanded the military forces in this country unlike anyone else from the neoconservative chickenhawk brigade.

Later, in the press conference Mr. Perle's "faint hearts" were raised by an uncited reporter from Al Jazeera:

Al Jazeera: "My question is for Mr. Perle. You have said that this will be translated by the faint of heart in the administration as a cover-up on Abu Ghraib prison. Who are those people in the administration that were against this, and what's your view on the memos that we have seen in the press in the past two days?

Duck, duck, duck, then goose the Media:

Perle: I don't know enough about the memos to comment on them, and I don't want to say who's faint-hearted within the administration, but it seems to me that what we have seen today should be seen generally. And unless I'm mistaken, none of our networks has seen fit to cover it."

The rest of the question was pretty much derived from this June 16, 2004 article by Deborah Orin, a consummate liar (but at least not a plagiarist) for The New York Post: "Reporting For The Enemy; Media Won't Show Saddam's Evil" (cache link). (Ms. Orin lies in this particular article when she claims that "only four or five reporters showed up for the screening" when the transcript clearly shows at least nine or ten attended):

Orin: "They told of savage scenes of decapitation, fingers chopped off one by one, tongues hacked out with a razor blade...But these awful images didn't show up on American TV news."

Give Orin credit for being more lurid with her imagery. She was also more direct with her feelings on what other news should actually be suppressed:

Orin: "But every TV network has endlessly shown photos of the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib. Why?"

Orin also provided an answer. An answer supplied by Mr. Perle's co-host from that same night, AEI scholar Michael Ledeen, "Because most [journalists] want Bush to lose[.]"

It's nice to see that Jeff Gannon had the decency to at least tone down his question.

Orin didn't ignore Perle's faint-hearted slurs: "It's not just journalists. The Pentagon has lots of Saddam atrocity footage - but is loathe to release it, possibly for fear it would be taken as a crude attempt to blunt criticism of Abu Ghraib."

The next day Jeff filed his story: White House Suggests Media Explain Cover Up of Saddam Atrocity Video By Jeff Gannon, Talon News, June 18, 2004 (I couldn't find a Talon News or GOPUSA link, but aside from this post at Free Republic and this at the GOPUSA sister site Men's News Daily, i also found this Cukooznest cache link):

"White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan denied that the White House had a role in keeping a gruesome video of atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's regime from the media. When asked by Talon News on Thursday to explain the virtual news blackout of the horrific images of Iraqis being beheaded, tongues being cut out, and fingers being chopped off, McClellan said that he'd "leave it to the media to address those issues.""

Perhaps to return the favor, Jeff Gannon did credit Orin in his piece: "Deborah Orin, Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Post, reported that the New York Times has written 177 stories on Abu Ghraib -- over 40 of them on the front page, but have yet to write a single story about the victims who participated in the AEI event."

But wait one second. Does this Gannon "exclusive" actually contain some real live proof that Talon News may have once actually partaked in some actual journalism?

"Veronique Rodman, a spokesman for AEI, told Talon News that the event was lightly attended, despite their usual process that directly contacts over 40 assignment desks of national news organizations. Rodman did not recall exactly which news agencies sent reporters at the time of the interview, but did mention that Al Jazeera sent a cameraman."

Come on, Jeff, you probably never called on a source anytime during your entire incarnation as a "newsman." That's why there isn't even a direct quote from Mrs. Peter W. Rodman (somewhat off-topic: Rodman "has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs since July 16, 2001" cache link). You knew about the Al Jazeera reporter because it was in the same transcipt that you used for your "research."

I'll give you some credit for the remainder of your article, Jeff. You didn't hide the fact, this time, that you took the words straight from a press release from a Republican Congressman.

Yeah, Jeff, a helluva journalist you were.

My Talon News/GOPUSA Archives


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