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Monday, February 14, 2005

Circling 'round the Moat

A few thoughts on the laughably-called "breaking news" about the Jeff Gannon / James Guckert kerfluffle. If you're unaware of this supposedly earth-shattering news, some blogger found a bunch of pictures through a male escort service website that look like the publicizied pictures of Jeff Gannon (only much more provocative). The blogger goes on to string together a bunch of connections to how Jeff Gannon is probably gay and that he deserves the smearing he gets. He relies on MS Word documents (does anyone really need a reminder as to how easily MS Word documents can be modified to reflect what someone wants them to reflect?) and pictures of a Gannon-lookalike on various escort websites to prove his point. To see this website and it's proof, you'll have to look at the mirrored PDF version over at Wizbang (the pictures within the PDF file, while censored, should be treated as NSFW).

Let's make something very clear - what Jeff Gannon does in private is his business. It should've remained that way, but a bunch of smear merchants think that it's relevant only as far as making their "story" about him allegedly receiving daily (as opposed to permanent of the approved press pool) press passes, under his actual name, all the more juicier. It's a prime example of mob mentality at its absolute worst and the "gay angle" contributes absolutely nothing to the accusation that he has done something wrong by his credentials or through his softball questions. It's just vicious, childish behavior that should've been left behind in grade school.

Ace has a pretty good way of expressing how it should have been in the investigation by some bloggers into Jeff Gannon's credentials, where the "gay angle" plays in.

The standard ought not to be whether a tidbit has any arguable relevance to a story or to public policy or whatnot. The standard really should be more of a sliding scale-- the more personal and embarrassing the information, the greater the actual and direct relevance should be if you're going to report it.

Nasty gossip that just hurts people may be "news" in the sense that it is interesting and informative, but it's not "news" in the more restrictive sense that it actually has relevance to an important event or public debate.

As far as the Daily Kos and Atrios blogs, the two prominent liberal blogs on this story, are concerned, all they are doing is being gossipmongers. What they're "reporting" isn't "news", it's playing the role of a tabloid editor to the hilt. They haven't nailed someone to the wall like other, more successful blogs have done with CBS News' shoddy research and journalistic practices in airing memos obviously done in MS Word. Instead, they have to pick on someone that is, not to diminish Jeff Gannon, a small fry in the larger pool of reporters. The only "crime" he's guilty of is asking softball questions, something that reporters and entertainers have done for years. The only difference is that every other reporter and entertainer gets away with it, and this man gets lynched by a bunch of maladjusted brats out for blood.


UPDATE - The Moderate Voice has this latest development broken down into several sub-stories, with links aplenty to other blogs and stories.